Tag Archives: body interpretation

601. Power Plays in Social Contexts – Back To Self

Or how I became part of a ‘power play’ in a group of people with body language, what I discovered about myself and what I learned from this experience.

Following up with the previous topic on arrogance, I mentioned another situation that I didn’t get to write out where I noticed such form of arrogance or superiority within me in a particular social context.

I was talking with a few people the other day in a reunion and suddenly a ‘new person’ that I’ll call ‘A’ came into the moment and stood around where we were talking, like joining herself into the ‘circle’ and something quite interesting happened. She wasn’t introduced or anything, she just said hi and stood there. The rest of us were ‘into’ a certain topic already so I noticed that I was kind of ‘side-viewing’ this new person that I didn’t know of before, so entirely ‘new’ within that context but! I also started registering (as in becoming aware of/assessing) her body language which I interpreted as showing lack of confidence, being insecure, feeling inferior, somewhat nervous, feeling uncomfortable in the moment.

Now these are mere assumptions based on how I saw that she was kind of hesitating to look at either way, she was grabbing her neck and looking at us in a certain way that I could interpret as ‘feeling out of place’ in general, which I didn’t even think of in that moment in my mind. What follows is how I reacted/acted out based on all of these ‘insta-interpretations’ of person A, which is how I made that conclusion that she was feeling out of place, uncomfortable, insecure, feeling ‘inferior’ etc.

Here looking back at the situation, what I am not at all considering is how it is quite ‘common’ for most people to go through that initial experience when being introduced to new people or a new situation, it’s not like everyone feels ‘immediately comfortable and at home’ in any new environment or with new people – that’s a simple fact of how we current live our lives. Sure with time and in this process it becomes ‘easier’ to face such kind of contexts, but I’d be full of myself if I would not admit that I also go through this kind of immediate moments of getting somewhere new, with new people, new ‘things’ to interact with and can go into an experience of ‘not being at the level’ of everyone else there, which one kind of goes working through as moments go by and we make a decision to settle in or integrate ourselves to the moment/situation, but that initial reaction to ‘the new’ as in new people, new situation, new environment is quite common and I definitely have to remind myself of ‘been there, done that’ and understanding the experience, reminding myself of my process, which is an act of humbleness – now, why do I say this?

Because I noticed how as I was ‘assessing’ this new person, for an instant in my body language and how I experienced myself was within a decision to ‘ignore’ her, to kind of go into the opposite experience to what I perceived/believed her to be experiencing, so in a way playing out the polarity of what I perceived her to be. Therefore I became more ‘secure, confident, at ease, superior, dominant’ in my expression in that moment, which translated into not really making an effort to open up with her in those few minutes that this play out lasted.

However within this process of self-awareness, I had to be honest with myself and noticed what I was doing in that moment towards her, and that’s when I thought ‘Why am I deciding to ignore her?’ and so immediately directed myself to ask her about what she does and how old she was and then it turns out she immediately opened up and got more comfortable after we started talking directly to her, and she expressed how she’s seen me around and was in fact quite an open and comfortable person right after that, lol! I had to eat my perceptions and initial reactions to the person out, because she became quite ‘relaxed’ in her expression and giving details of her work and stuff like that. It was altogether possibly a 10 minute interaction, which became a cool moment overall for me to assess why on Earth had I decided to Ignore her in those first few moments and play out this ‘superiority’ stance of ‘I ignore you, because you are feeling ‘uncomfortable’ within yourself…’

Of course here I take full responsibility because I have no way to really in fact say ‘Yes! She was feeling awkward and inferior and insecure at first’ – it was all my interpretation and perception. And even if she had felt in fact that way, I can move to UNDERSTAND the person’s experience, which comes within a humbleness of considering all people in the moment equally, consider them as in placing myself in their shoes to realize ‘Hey, they are new into the moment, let’s integrate them into what we’re talking right now’.

The word as the solution that came up within me this morning as I was looking at this point, which I’ve been assessing over these last days in fact, is Equilibrium. Wherein in that moment of the conversation I was being suddenly too ‘unilateral’ to only talk to the people that I was already having an ‘oiled’ conversation with and that I’ve generally become quite comfortable to talk to, and how the dynamics changed within me when this new person came into the scene and how that immediate reaction at a physical level was that of seeing her as a ‘foreigner’ so to speak, as ‘not belonging’ to the circle of people in that moment, just because of being unknown to me, just because no one else came to ‘introduce her’ to us, but she just arrived and said hi.

What would be the common sensical thing to do in such situations? Say hi and in doing so already ‘making space’ in the moment to ‘open up’ an include the person in the conversation, can say something like ‘we’re discussing this/that, have you had anything like that happening to you?’ – or maybe if that’s too ‘soon’ to get ‘too intimate’ lol, I can pause the conversation I was into for a moment and rather proceed to ask a few questions to get to know a bit more about the new person, make a space for her literally and communicatively speaking, because I realize that if I place myself in her shoes – which is the point of understanding her and her position – I would also like to be welcomed into such moments and be integrated by those that were already there and ‘established’ in the situation.

In fact as I write this, I remember feeling exactly like I perceived this girl to be ‘feeling’ in such situation, memory is quite old, over 10 years ago where I’d be commonly going into new places/environments and people’s homes on a regular basis with a friend of mine, and I actually admired his capacity to ‘feel at ease’ in all of those new places – actually the same person I referred to in my previous blog – and how in those situations I kind of stood in the background ‘doing my thing’ like keeping quiet and mostly observing. However the people that were in such places were generally quite kind and welcoming, which made me realize that ‘people that don’t know you can be kind and open’ just by having a similar ‘linkage’ like a friend in common. And that’s then how one of the words I’ve been practicing living and that I took form this person in my life is that ability to be expressive, comfortable, ‘at home’ in all of these new environments, which at times I would ask like ‘hey how long have you known these people? And he’d replied, I just met them now for the first time! And I could not believe my eyes, because he was generally quite open and at ease with them, to which people responded with equal comfort in their expression, that was quite something that started debunking my very ingrained ‘elitism’ I’ve grown up with at home, and I’m glad that I continue debunking the moments where this same very old pattern rears its head.

So that gives me another clue to see how I could recognize her experience based on what I have in fact lived in the past as well, and how I played out ‘the opposite’ in a way to deny my own discomfort, lack of confidence or inferiority that I sure have experienced in social contexts like that before in my life, and probably around her same age, so it is a point of arrogance really to pretend that ‘I’m always been this confident, this sure of myself’ because I’ve definitely not, and moments like these are here to remind me to not get ‘too high in my arrogant horse’ but be humble, understanding and grounded towards myself and others equally.

I have been looking also at the responsibility that we hold to each other to truly ‘do as we would like to receive’ and in that, it’s kind of astounding how it took me a few minutes to actually step out of my ‘high horse’ of ‘I am ignoring you because you seem so unsure of yourself.’ This pattern is something I’ll be looking at to see how I can in fact be so unsupportive towards another that is clearly ‘new’ to the situation and could rather use some support to be integrated, to do what I can to make them feel welcomed into the situation. That’s just basics of what I consider is what I’d like others to do for me in the same situation, without doing so from the starting point of judging her as ‘oh she’s looking so out of place, so insecure, gotta make her feel like at home!’ because then that would be playing out a polarity and that’s not the point either.

It’s basic stuff to live and act on the decision to include or integrate the other new person in the situation and in that also assist myself to stop these very embarrassing to admit type of patterns of essentially playing the ‘mean girl’ that excludes someone just because ‘they are new’ or ‘I don’t know them.’ I mean, this is how we limit ourselves in our minds so extensively, where we create our own comfort zones where we dislike having anyone/anything ‘disrupting’ – apparently – a moment with people that one has already created a comfortable expression with.

Though, I see how I have played out this same pattern in various contexts before, even with just another couple of people – meaning 3 in total as a social context – where I had become quite inconsiderate to others clearly showing that they were having a hard time about something, which is not cool at all. And this is part of applying the equality equation, not creating ‘preferences’ over people – which in my case is preferring to be with those that are open, assertive, showing confidence, enjoyment, comfort etc. – but to be the one that integrates everyone as part of my moment and my attention in the moment as it is doable and realistic to do, like in this kind of small reunions and having new people arrive and integrate them – was definitely doable and so I did.

To me it also speaks a lot of the ‘trigger’ point for me which is seeing someone that I perceive initially to be inferior and insecure – because a few moments later on another guy joined in for a moment and his attitude was completely different, very ‘open’ and kind of busy doing his own thing so to speak – and here I’m only comparing objectively my reaction to that person B as the man/guy that came into the conversation for a moment – I didn’t have such reaction at all, but rather crated an interest in knowing who he was and what he did etc. Maybe it also had to do with him being introduced to us with more words, but even so, I consider that my initial reaction had to do with how I ‘read’ the person as being more secure, more ‘socially oiled’ so to speak, lol.

So here as much as I’ve laid out a common sensical way to understand people in such contexts and even if I perceive another facing the usual reactions that can be triggered when being in a new environment, I can take responsibility = take part in it and start talking to the person, that’s the easiest way to integrate myself to them and them to the moment, to become part of the conversation – because that’s what I now remember assisted me greatly when being also a young girl hanging out with ‘older guys’ which we were in this context and person A was a relatively younger one.

As for my own pattern of going into superiority or a deliberate ‘ignoring’ of those that I perceive are having a hard time with themselves – specifically within the context of perceiving them as inferior or unsure of themselves – I have to deliberately step out of my superiority stance and comparison which exists in the form of ‘I am better than you because I feel comfortable and confident within me and I can see you’re not, so I ignore you’ –  yikes. I know this can be shocking for some, it has been for myself to realize it exists within me, but as with anything: reacting in judging myself for my own ‘body language’ and this type of ‘invisible communication’ being ingrained in how I behave, speak with others is definitely not the way to sort things out.

In this I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to in moments where I’ve noticed other people having a hard time integrating, adjusting to a certain social context or conversation, and I go into the assumption that ‘they are feeling less than, insecure or even ‘intimidated’ by me or others in that moment’, I have to stop, breathe to bring myself back to considering the person, to realizing that If I am aware of what they might possibly be going through. And so the way to break the assumptions and the ‘spell’ of this ‘tension’ that such situation creates within me and maybe even for others too, is by breaking the ice and talking to the person, to see what they are all about and get to hear their words, what they have to say – instead of going into assumptions, comparisons and power plays within such situations.

Here I realize that I have a responsibility to myself and others if I am in such a moment witnessing a situation where I can make a difference, such as I eventually did with opening the conversation directly to her and getting off of my high horse or arrogant stance and rather get to actually enjoy seeing her expression, really.

I am glad I moved into the correction after all, but to me those moments where I allowed myself to go into this ‘superiority’ is the point for me to become extra-careful of and aware of, because there were not even ‘thoughts’ as backchat towards the person, it was simply a body-language assessment I made of a few seconds that led me to then determine that I had to ‘over-play’ my expression  of comfort, confidence in front of her, it’s like a power game of sorts that develops in this kind of social interactions to kind of ‘show myself off’ to the person which in fact can only exist if I am still existing as any point of ‘fear of feeling the same way that I perceive the other person to be experiencing themselves as’ which means, fear of feeling out of place, inferior or insecure, which is the only way I can make sense of why I ‘emphasized’ myself in such way the moment I noticed this other girl’s initial attitude.

And as I said before, it was merely an initial reaction because the rest that unfolded debunked my initial perceptions around her, though I do ponder what if I had decided to ignore her completely all the time and not having given me the opportunity to get to know her? I would have then prevented me from meeting a new person, and that’s it, which is something I’ve come to really enjoy doing.

So the learning point of this story is to not allow myself to act based on this pretty fucked up ‘instincts’ that play out with body language, as actions or inactions, based on what I am assuming a person is like or how they ‘look like’ or how I am instantaneously judging them. I cannot continue existing in such prejudices, because in the end, not only would I become an ‘elitist person’ in my own parameters, but I’d also be preventing me from expanding to truly do onto others as I’d like others to do onto me, which in this case is applying and living the equilibrium, that equal consideration of everyone that is participating in a moment, because that’s the principles I am learning to live by and how I’d like the world to see everyone else!

It brought me up to seeing how at a world level this plays out for example with immigrants that arrive in Europe and how they are of course fearful, feeling insecure, helpless, sometimes coming with extensive traumatic experiences to get to where they are – yet  many receive them with superiority actions like ignoring them, seeing them as ‘less than humans,’ deliberately attacking them at times, playing out all forms of rejection which is of course only worsening things overall not only for that context, but for everyone else in this world that learns from those ways of ‘treating foreigners’ – and I realized that I was about to play out my own part in that same construct with a ‘new person’ in a social context… definitely not acceptable and not cool overall to do.

I’ll continue to dissect my experience and role within it all as there are ingrained patterns that need to eat some huge pieces of humble pie, which I’m going to be cooking in the next few days J lol

 

Thanks for reading

 

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