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Resting Stress Face

Stress is felt more than seen. We can communicate stress to others around us without even saying a word; our facial expressions, our body language, and our subconscious eye rolls, humphs, and grumblings are all signs that we are not balanced within ourselves.

Unfortunately, we can be so caught up in our own thoughts that we are unaware of the impressions we are giving others. This can lead to hurt feelings, arguments, and a sense of “walking on egg shells” for other people around you. As a business owner, mother, grandmother, and friend, even I can fall prey to stress occasionally. Here are some other examples of feeling unbalanced:

This week many children in Riverside County are returning to school. The change in mom’s routine can cause her to become unbalanced and feel internal turmoil that can be felt by others.

Financial Stress can cause the breadwinner to worry about making enough money to pay the bills and this feeling of being overwhelmed can be emotionally burdensome to those in their family.

Unresolved conflict can bubble up expectantly causing interrupted sleep that can knock us off balance the morning after and carry through the day as underlying agitation.

Exhaustion from overwork can cause unbalance.

Anything can cause stress. Even planning a vacation or a trip to Disneyland can be stressful.

How we deal and communicate stress is the problem. UCLA psychology professor emeritus Abert Mehrabian determined that we communicate to others in three ways:

  • WHAT we say accounts for only 7% of what is believed.

  • HOW we say it accounts for 38%.

  • What others SEE accounts for 55% of what we communicate.

Notice I underlined “believed?” This is why sometimes people don’t believe what we say. In his book “Everyone communicates, Few Connect,” author John C. Maxwell identifies our communication breakdowns as the inconsistency between our Thoughts, Emotions, and Actions:

Something I know but do not feel, my communication is dispassionate.

Something I know but do not do, my communication is theoretical.

Something I feel but do not know, my communication is unfounded.

Something I feel but do not do, my communication is hypocritical.

Something I do but do not know, my communication is presumptuous.

Something I do but do not feel, my communication is mechanical.

Can you see how sometimes your thoughts, actions, and emotions can get all jumbled up in a way that what you are saying is not what is received? This is when you hear yourself say, “That’s not what I meant,” or the other person becomes defensive when you are not even “attacking” them with your words but your body language has an offensive stance. I have been told I can be “intimidating” in the way I talk because of my posture when talking to people. This makes me sad, but after 25 years as a cop, even fifteen years after retirement, I still have a “cop stance” and I’m not consciously aware of it.

Consider your resting stress face (also known as RBF) and see if you are subconsciously presenting with a posture that is inconsistent with your intent. Ask your friends, family members, and coworkers what their experience is when you communicate. Are your actions offensive, defensive, disengaged, or do you overcompensate for the inconsistency between your feelings, actions, and thoughts? If you are presenting with a RSF, make minor adjustments and you’ll find better connections with those around you.

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