Your Mind Speaks Through Your Body: Physiological Responses to Emotional States
Anyone else remember that cartoon with the wolf in the audience going totally ga-ga for the sexy performer lady? This image of the wolf is seared into my memory: He's whistling wildly, steam is coming out of his ears, his tongue falls out of his mouth and has to be rolled back up, his head turns into a train whistle, his eye pop way out of his head.... the guy is just bonkers for this woman. I thought it meant L-O-V-E as a kid, but of course I know better now - the wolf just had the good 'ol "hots" for her.
All those imaginative illustrations to communicate his feelings, that is where my interest lies. When you think about it, we have a lot of sayings meant to describe an emotion that relate to an experience someplace in our body or via physical sensation.
"I had butterflies in my stomach" may be used to describe nervousness. "My heart beat out of my chest" might be said when you're feeling scared. "I was walking on air" may explain a sense of deep contentment or even love. "I was seeing red" may describe a rage-filled state.
Being more in touch with your physiological sensations, or where in your body you feel it when you have an emotion, can help you gain better self and emotion awareness. Use your body as a clue.
Here are 3 of our most "basic" emotional states and a corresponding list of possible ways in which you may feel these physically. It's interesting how once you become more aware of these, you may notice in yourself or in others' body language or physical complaint signs of an emotional discomfort being neglected.
Joy (excitment, happiness, love)
Walking on cloud 9
Walking on air
Lightness in your step
Bouncing as you walk
Warm all over - "Sun shining on me"
Warm and full heart
Even breathing and resting heart rate
Increased heart rate and fast breathing (excitement)
Fear (anxiety, nervousness)
"Running around with your hair on fire"
Butterflies in stomach
Shaking like a leaf
Wide eyes (dilated pupils)
Sick to stomach (nausea)
Shivering or shaking
Lose control of bowels/bladder
Increased breath and heart rate
Sadness (depression, disappointment)
Aching heart or chest
Empty stomach - sick stomach
Heavy, aching, or sore muscles
Slow moving, slow motion
Slowed breath and heart rate