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January 26, 2011

Words and Gestures are alike

Evolution has given human race the gift of bipedal anatomy (ability to walk on two legs) and ultimately two hands free to perform many tasks. Same aspect separates us from other species of creatures on the way of intellectual, technological, social, strategic and communicational development.

While talking, speaking, delivering speech, communicating and interacting face to face; we can control the flow of verbal output, emphasize, draw attention at, divert to, mimic, assert, confirm, clarify, signify or demonstrate/represent something by our arms, palms and fingers.

Apart of spoken words, gestures, signs and symbols generated by hands play a very significant role in communication to make it more visually acknowledgeable, clear, firm and interesting. Brain is more attuned to pick, process and store visual clues than words because vision receives 80 % of the total information from outside world.

Very wonderful thing to know is that some people cannot communicate verbally without gesturing. For example, it’s proverbial truth that you can make Italian man silent just by tying his hands on his back. You can watch an interesting video that explains origin and meaning of different Italian gestures. Many of these gestures are global. Nice work by Mr. Carlo Italo Aurucci!


Moreover, words and especially symbolic gestures are alike. According to recent study done by fMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scanning of brain, words and gestures are processed by same areas inside it. Development of sign or code languages for verbally disabled people is very good example of adherence of verbal and nonverbal aspects of communication.

Gestures are also highly important while learning or teaching foreign languages, complex ideas, concepts, mechanisms, views or theories. It has been found that a person making or mimicking gestures is more likely to understand complex ideas and concepts and can learn new skills faster than a person who doesn't.

Intel's new gesture recognition technology allows you to control devices by making simple hand gestures like turning knob by fingers to increase or decrease the volume of your TV or waving a palm to receive an incoming phone call on your cell phone. It's like converting hand gestures into verbal orders.

Discovering and meeting enormous potential of gesture recognition and their interaction with various objects has been transformed into SixthSense Technology by a young Indian scientist Dr. Pranav Mistry working at MIT Media Lab (Massachusetts, USA). It's definitely going to change the world in near future or already has.


[Mr. Carlo Italo Aurucci is a retired construction professional who has published several videos on Italian Sign Language and gestures on YouTube.]

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January 10, 2011

Body Image and Social Communication

Body Image is a person's own thoughts, feelings and evaluation of its own body, specifically attributed to aesthetics and attractiveness. In fact, most of us are quite good in size and shape which are strictly adhered with our genetically predisposed features and inherited physical aspects. We are not mass produced and processed in large factories by machines. We mostly get what our parents, grand-parents and genetic lineage give to us, along with a few mutations.
 
However, most of us frequently, unnecessarily, compulsively and obsessively compare themselves with some contemporary and widely advertised standards of physical beauty which are entirely based upon a few fashion models, actors, actresses, athletes and celebrities who entirely don't represent the diversity of the entire human population. Most surprisingly, most of them too suffer from the negative body image because it's not prevalent in so-called average and/or below-average looking individuals only.
 
As per observations, the individuals who are regarded as more beautiful and attractive than averagely looking people also suffer from negative body image. You might have heard about some of the very famous and popular female celebrities, models and actresses sliding into depression due to negative or depreciated body image. Some of them openly speak about the same while others don't. That's it!

Body image also corresponds to self-worth and self-esteem. How worthy you feel about and value yourself affects the way you behave with yourself and communicate with others. While choosing, attracting and retaining a partner in a romantic, committed or marital relationship; an individual's body image strongly dictates its biases, preferences, orientations and choices. However, issues originated from negative body images are denied, suppressed and ignored altogether.
 
Obsession to meet hypothetical beauty standards imposed by others leads to physical and psychological disorders that are very difficult to cure. Negative body image can lead to marital, physical and sexual dissatisfaction too. Also, two partners with dissimilar body images might drift apart due to predictive complexes they develop about themselves.
 
Dissimilar body images is the source of many problems.

We simply can’t deny the crucial importance of body image with respect to the ways we approach, communicate, complement, reciprocate, respond to, behave and express both nonverbally and verbally with others, especially the members of the opposite gender, including existing or potential partners in short or long term relations.
 
It has been widely observed by researchers, psychologists, psychotherapists and counselors that persons suffering with negative body image ('bad body syndrome') avoid spontaneous social interactions as much as possible due to lowered or complete lack of self-respect. Also, it's more common in youngsters going through or following puberty.

Following are of the some combined nonverbal and behavioral clues of individuals suffering from moderate to severe negative body image:

1) They smile very rarely, laugh hardly, walk slowly and appear psychologically occupied, lacking energy and under-confident. They appear depressed, derailed, lost and lacking enthusiasm.

2) They get nervous very quickly and ruminate a lot. They adapt defensive or withdrawal postures most of time. They engage themselves in petty tasks for a long time. 

3) They refrain themselves from exposures, interactions, open discussions or debates. They avoid direct eye contact. They don’t take initiatives by themselves.

4) They seat with arched back and maintain downward gaze mostly. They use excessive grooming gestures and try to seek attention of others towards themselves.

5) Generally, they stay closer with others who suffer with negative body image. They feel paralyzed when they are isolated from such individuals or their group(s).

6) They may also impulsively defend to somebody commenting on their appearance even if it’s a gag or a joke because they feel very pity about themselves.

7) They may express jealousy towards individuals (irrespective of gender, age and looks) having positive body image and confidence. They keep them away.

8) They pass sarcastic, jealous or derogatory comments in the absence of a individual whom they suppose to be more beautiful and good looking than themselves.

9) They are more likely to develop eating disorders which are widely known as Bulimia and Anorexia. They hardly realize that their eating habits are harmful.

10) They frequently peep into mirrors and try different attires that don't match or suit with their present social or professional profile, image, designation or status.
 
11) They pass immature, illogical and offensive comments to the individuals from their own families about their physical attributes which they perceive as negative.

12) They mostly prefer good looks over performance, purpose, functioning, design and utility. They try to feel the deep inner void of negative body image with good looking things.

13) They buy different cosmetic products, cloths and accessories in a huge amount in attempt to enhance their exteriors to compensate the lack of self-worth.
 
14) They copy others blindly with the hope of matching their social and approval status. They remain eager to hear from others the kind of things which enhances their self-worth.
 
15) They assume themselves as incapable, incompetent, unfit and unworthy in giving their best, trying to or even initiating something on their own.

Most women suffer from negative body image world over and there are very strong reasons behind the same. By most, women are appreciated, valued, accepted and rewarded entirely on the basis of attractiveness, physical beauty, good looks and skin color in the male-dominant environments, economies, societies, communities and families. Hence most women focus on their exteriors more than knowledge, personality, thoughts, opinions, aspirations, virtues, skills, qualities, strengths, talents, health, nutrition, well-being, fitness and performability.
 
Exposure leads to comparison, insecurity and urge of acceptance.
 
Especially after World War II and industrial revolution, wide-spread education and socio-economical transformations availed opportunity to millions of women for working in offices, factories and stores. Facing, interacting, traveling, talking and coming in close contact with each other in a large number and on a wider (geographical) scale made women more conscious and anxious about physical beauty and competitive over the same than ever before. Print and electronic media intensified it.

Increasing wide-spread of television, social media, advertisement and fashion industry that thrives on massively materializing female (and even male) physical beauty began propagating and establishing the illusionary standards and measurements that women started to chase desperately. Feeling about lack of control, insecurity and economical freedom fueled it ultimately. Global multi-billion hike in cosmetic product sale, medications and therapies is the strong indication of the same.

Following pregnancy, most women develop negative body image due to sudden change in their body shape, size and weight. Lack of personal care, lack of exercise, poor nutrition, and partner's shifted focus could make it worse. Many women might choose very weird, unusual or illogical strategies, ways, tools and methods to re-evaluate self-worth, re-establish self-respect and re-gain confidence which are not easily, seriously and duly felt, understood, acknowledged, sensed, recognized, accepted, respected or reciprocated by most of their own male partners (in committed relationships).
 
How much you respect and love your own body?
 
If their male partners have focused their entire attention towards their (newborn) babies and/or work, some (working) women suffering from negative body image after pregnancy might start unconsciously and dramatically expressing their unsettling urge of re-evaluating self-worth, re-establishing self-respect and re-gaining confidence in front of outsiders, neighbors, colleagues or friends. It could ultimately lead to (emotional) attachment, flirting and affair with those who attend, accompany, affectionate, listen, appreciate, sympathize, respect and reciprocate.

Both men and women can and do inherit negative body image from their parents. Those who inherit them don't realize that their parents were suffering from negative body image in the first place. Also, their preferences for and expectation in marital partners are dictated by their own parent's hidden, suppressed and unfulfilled wishes. However, two siblings can have dissimilar body images.
 
The only way to overcome negative body image is to accept your inheritance, respect your body, keep it more functional, adapt healthy practices and become as asset of society. Equating healthiness, well-being, fitness and performability with beauty should be kept in mind because it lasts longer. Don’t compare your physical features with others at all. Respect diversity and identify your uniqueness.
 

Bringing down your social media time greatly would be the best first step in getting rid of negative body image. Try to realize what your body is truly capable of doing and performing other than appearing (in front of others) because you are not a mannequin, a doll or a puppet.
 
The individuals acutely suffering from negative body image for a prolonged period of time should approach counselors or psychotherapists as early as possible. Don't waste your life!

(Additional Note: Besides Negative Body Image (NBI), another mental health issue related with external appearance of own body is known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). If an individual is suffering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder, appearance of the individual's body negatively affects the ability to live and behave normally. The individual want to fix the issues.)

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January 02, 2011

Let your spirit soar higher

Even though we don’t pay much conscious attention, body language definitely speaks louder than words. This phenomenon is exactly like looking at illuminated bulb without being able to touch, taste or smell an electricity. Body language is the dialect of subconscious mind. It’s the true and fundamental universal language which none of the living biological creatures can communicate without.

How you dress, walk, move, stand, maintain interpersonal distance, lean, orient, seat, postulate, gesticulate, touch, pronounce words, glance, gaze and express facially helps building your image in minds of others and the same image is reflected through their behavior or treatment for you.

In personal, social or professional life, positive attitude is the most important. Positivity always attracts positivity. Simply, it’s a law of nature. You treat others in positive, respectful and harmonious way; you get same kind of treatment in return. Take an example of a smile. When you smile impulsively or intentionally, it makes others smile and helps soothe tense environment.

Having the positive attitude means to be open, humble, confident, comfortable, favorable,  approachable, welcoming, showing interest, respecting, complementing and persuading towards others in an appropriate way without intrusion, intimidation and domination.

Moreover, positive attitude is not the salesman’s domain. It’s not at all about making smiley face and trying to make everyone feel happy all the time. Reasonable and constructive defense is also required whenever necessary.

If you closely observe all great, respected and most loved leaders and individuals who influence our minds, thoughts and lives ultimately then you may find how their positive thoughts, attitude, energy and spirit manifest both verbally and nonverbally.

Possessing and expressing positive attitude is simple but only when you are mentally prepared for same. It’s very crucial to look at yourself exactly the way you want to get treated by others. For the same, you need to believe in yourself and need to be confident.  Most people would assume about you what exactly want you let them to assume.

Not comparing yourself at all with others, valuing your existence, not underestimating strengths, finding a purpose in life, identifying your virtues - skills - competencies, remaining determined - focused - goal oriented and respecting diversity would bring emotional stability, peace of mind, harmony and cognitive precision.

More you feel better about yourself; more you become healthy, immune and charming. Don’t curb your ultimate potentials, don’t down your spirit and let it soar higher. Let it be promise to yourself for lifetime. Let each venture make you feel more and more fulfilling with positive attitude towards yourself other.

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January 01, 2011

Secret of metropolitan nervousness

You may easily spot the difference among rural, sub-urban and metropolitan populations. Rural and sub-urban people appear more open, friendly, stress-free, touch-friendly and more expressive as compared to metropolitan population. Also, their body language is apparently a little bit different from each other.

Metropolitan people appear more shrunk, tense, nervous or expressing no emotions on their faces while traveling, shopping, standing in queues, riding in elevators, walking and driving on roads. When they're outside of their cities, they appear quite differently. The very secret behind this seemingly 'weird and unsocial' behavior of metropolitan citizens has to do with amount of space each person shares with others over a territory.

Every living creature needs a certain amount of physical space for fundamental necessities like sheltering, resting, consuming food and breeding. Members of some species mark and aggressively defend their territories like the way they compete during their mating seasons. More the intrusion in their territories by strangers or rivals; more there are tensions, conflicts, battles, bruises and killings.
 
In rural and sub-urban areas or small settlements, there are very less chances of intrusion or trespassing of personal and intimate zones by (complete) strangers. Also, every person has more geographical area around itself. In rural and sub-urban areas, almost everybody is familiar with each other people are adapt in handling intrusion or trespassing in more friendlier and social ways.
 
It has been observed that a large no. of animals forcefully packed in limited geographical areas are more susceptible to anxiety, violent breakout, abnormal behavior, psychological disorders, infections, diseases and deaths ultimately. Despite of being advanced species, humans are not excused of this rule. We also struggle to maintain comfortable and safe interpersonal distance with others, especially with (complete) strangers.
 
Basically, there are only reasons to invade personal and intimate zones i. e. either to attack and harm somebody or to get intimate with somebody. Hence, lesser the physical distance remains between any two individuals, more both of them expect non-offense, courtesy and carefulness. Otherwise, they try to fight or run away (flight) for their own safety. More unfamiliar individuals gather in a space by keeping less physical distance among each-other, more peaceful, cooperative and non-confrontational behavior they expect.

In comparison to the smaller settlements, more strangers trespass or accidentally come closer to each other very frequently, at different places and at several occasions in large cities. Expressing yourself openly and spontaneously to someone you are not familiar with is likely a provocation and intrusion of its personal space by itself.

A complete stranger gesticulating, talking loudly, laughing, sharing jokes, touching, fidgeting, making aggressive body movements, exhibiting intimacy and expressing emotions on its face in front of a few individuals would make them feel invaded, insulted, offended or attacked unconsciously.
 
During such unavoidable situations, we share our personal and intimate zones with others on an unspoken agreement. When two strangers invade or share their personal and intimate zones with each other by keeping very less distance between themselves; they tend to appear idle, inexpressive and most possibly - motionless to avoid appearing provocative or disturbing to one other.
 
This adaptation assures less uneasiness, stress or conflict and let space sharing individuals to perform different tasks peacefully while staying closer for a certain period of time. This adaptation assures less conflicts and let all commuters and travelers to reach their destinations peacefully.

Metropolitan public transport system is evident to any observer. Most people simply divert their attention from others by mimicking sleep, reading newspapers - books - magazines, listening songs, eating,  looking at sealing - flooring or looking out through windows.
 
There's a good solution to break the icy cold environment inside commuter buses and trains. Forming a small friendship group with regular commuters helps most of us in mitigating (unconscious) threat of being looted, harassed, provoked or harmed by strangers.

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