As discussed last time, non-verbal communications (body language) grows from personal experience. Each experience with its emotional component creates our self-image. Same experiences should then create the same emotional memory. However, they don’t. Two components shape the experience for us: the context in which the experience exists and our previous emotional reaction to those experiences.
The context of an experience or as actors call it ‘given circumstance’ – the location, our age, previous experience, the circumstances around the experience, other people’s behavior, etc. – directs the way we react to situation.
If our significant other surprises us with a romantic tryst in an orange grove, the memory created is our own. Our reactions to the given circumstance are based on our previous experiences and our emotional memories. The elements of the given circumstance and the emotional memories connect to all the elements of the day – the surprise, the smell of the orange blossoms, the taste of the food, the color of the sky, the location, etc. All of those elements connect us to all past experiences and all the past emotions which go with it.
Our previous experiences shape the way the mind stores and reacts to the surprise. If previous surprises have not turned out well, this one may be an exception. You will certainly have some reservations about it and may not feel comfortable at the beginning. If grandma always gave you nasty tasting orange tea when you are ill, the smell of orange may not have pleasant memories. All of these things affect the way you react to the surprise. The proposed tryst may not turn out as the significant other hoped. The taint of the previous emotional experiences will color the situation.
Are all situations and experiences doomed because of previous events? No. The negative elements can overcome the negative elements of the previous example by the more positive memories of the food, the sky, the person who created the surprise etc. and our intellectual self. The more traumatic or joyful the emotional memory, the stronger the reaction to the current event will be.
Each new experience builds on the previous experiences until a self-image is developed and our body language becomes fixed. Once developed, every new given circumstance is compared to that self-image and is accepted or rejected as part of ourselves. Body language and self-image can evolve over time as our experience base grows, changes and develops.