Controlling Your Emotions Through Expression

It was a few weeks ago when wallowing in one of my longer-lasting emotional valleys that I suddenly remembered something that had vaguely caught my interest a couple years back in Bio Psych class. It was about the James-Lange theory. (Here’s a synopsis of it: http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/james_lange_emotion.htm

Common View:

Scary Happening ——-> Fear —————> Running Away Lange Theory

Scary Happening——–>Running Away ——>Fear

I got to thinking about all this, when I was in my Doldrums Mode. And I decided to experiment. For one full day. I decided to smile. ALL DAY. Now, part of my Doldrums Mode experience was that two things that were happening dissipated:

1. I was rolling and saturating in past experiences. I could not stop rubbing my own nose in my past screw ups, dumb-asseries, and uglinessess. And, oh Lord, what simple things some of them were… very, very simple little silly things nobody would ever remember except me, and I was slamming my face into them, over and over. Looking back, it was like a sick, subconscious attempt at “flooding” (a technique used in behavior therapy; client is flooded with experiences of a particular kind until becoming either averse to them or numbed to them) , but for the purpose of changing reactions to memories this time, rather than phobia control. Well, it wasn’t working. The shocking result #1 of my neurological smile experiment was this: when I dredged up these memories with a big grin on my face, THE SHAME DISSIPATED. This is so huge you may just sort of overlook it. It’s one of those things the human mind doesn’t really grasp so well. Author Whitley Streiber said when something is TOO bizarre, the brain ignores it. Makes sense. You will probably not believe this, but on that day, my past-pain-wallowing STOPPED.

2. Shocking result number two. During this smile experience, I realized that IT WAS MORE DIFFICULT TO REMEMBER THE ACTUAL PAINFUL DETAILS OF AN EVENT.

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Now, I am not a neurologist. (I only play one in my more imaginative manic moods, hardy har. ) But this seems like some pretty heavy stuff, and it bears further experimentation. I also noticed that when I thought of stereotypically sad things that didn’t particularly bother me, and then put on a mock-tragic expression of sadness, that I seemed to feel sadder. Here is a simple article on the subject. I highly recommend doing your own experiments…

Here’s an article that touches upon it a bit…

http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1871687,00.html

BTW…I am a courier, so grinning hugely while on the road was no problem for me.  As for those that work in an office….you’re on your own…  LOL

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