Poker Face

Don't let 'em know what you're thinkin'.
My homunculus is powerful: he lives in my mind, is composed of only thoughts, but yet he wields massive control over my behavior.  Sometimes, he makes me not work.  Sometimes, he makes me not exercise.  Sometimes, he makes me yell at people.  These are significant behaviors.  So, if my homunculus can exert power over very important, far-reaching behaviors, certainly he can control something simple, like my facial expression.

I've been arguing this week that emotions cannot be controlled.  Over time, with practice, we can change how our minds react to events, but in the heat of the moment we really don't have too much control over how we feel.  After an emotion creeps in, though, we can decide how we will react to the emotion.

For me, the very first thing that happens when an emotion creeps in is my facial expression changes.  I'm very expressive in that way.  However, many times I realize that allowing the initial, reactionary facial expression to creep in can be deterimental: I don't want people to know what I'm thinking all the time.  Especially if someone says something I don't agree with, by showing a negative facial expression, it may put the person on the defensive and make it difficult for me to be able to influence the interaction in a positive way.

So, for today's Daily Mind Game, let's practice controlling our facial expressions.  Specifically, let's focus on curbing the impulsive frown that accompanies most negative emotions.  By preventing the sour-puss face, we will make other people feel better, even during difficult interactions.  In addition, I've found that doing this makes me feel better!  By not looking angry, I actually become less angry.  You may have heard of the inverse effect happening for smiling: simply smiling can improve mood.

Poker Face

Task: Prevent negative facial expressions.

Info: The goal is to not "show your hand" emotionally.  Even if someone gives you crappy news, don't immediately show your emotions with a negative facial expression.  Keep your cool, and maintain a slightly bemused look (or some other expression that you prefer).  You don't want to look like you are forcing a smile, because that could be just as bad.  Instead, focus on a natural, neutral, but slightly positive facial expression.  Maintain it for the duration of a negative interaction.  The purpose of this is to practice control of our outward display of emotion.  With practice, you'll become better at deciding when and how to communicate your feelings on an issue.

Goal: Allow positive emotions to shine through; use a poker face to hide negative reactions.

Post your thoughts, feelings, and experiences with the DMG in the comments!

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