I have a degree in psychology, and I am trying to get good at noticing micro expressions. Sometimes. (A micro expression is a tiny flash of emotion that people unconsciously will do, and is referred to in as a non verbal means of communication.) So yeah, micro expressions. Learning to read them, meaning notice that someone made the expression, figure out what emotion was shown, and then use that information to better understand what the person is truly thinking versus what they are literally saying. It can be very helpful at my job. I work with teenagers at a residential treatment facility, and sometimes catching a micro expression and commenting on the feeling behind it can get you into more honest conversations with people.
For example, I was talking to an 18 year old male client, and I told him that he seems to be a sensitive person. He flashed the expression for scorn and then smoothed it away in a heartbeat, because as humans we tend to not want to insult others. He tried to be polite and say something about how "that's possible." But his face told me he not only didn't believe he is a sensitive person, but his initial gut reaction was to be scornful of the very idea of being sensitive. I pointed this out to him, and explained what I meant by sensitive. After my explanation, he admitted that he can be emotionally sensitive- which is why he puts up protective "walls" around his feelings. But I digress.
The point is, learning to read and respond to micro expressions at my work place has been helpful. Not so in my person life. I.E., with my mom. I often wish that I could just not notice what my mom thinks about things. I want to take what she is verbally saying at face value, and ignore her body language.
This is where I explain why I mentioned my degree in psychology at the beginning of this post. It's because I can make excuses for other people's behavior all day long. I'm good at it, at explaining it, rationalizing why someone might be doing what they are doing, etc. Having insight into others is a double edged sword. I can rationalize that my mom has a lot of things going on in her life right now that are really stressful, so if she looks at me with that "you look fat" face, or "you need to stop gaining weight" look, it's only because her mom is floundering downhill with Alzheimer's.
The thing is, right now I feel like my mom thinks I'm fat, she doesn't like or understand my husband (he doesn't like going outside very much! He plays video games- a lot. Eep!), and she doesn't like my dog (he's "aggressive" and "doesn't understand" the word "come." Uh, yeah, he does, sometimes he chooses to ignore you, or stare at you blankly. He does get it, though. She is upset that he likes to come when you are using a high pitched, read: happy tone of voice. She "doesn't play that game," meaning using a different tone of voice to call him. Nope, she puts a shock collar on her dog so that if he doesn't come, she can shock him. Different strokes for different folks, I guess).
The thinking I'm fat thing... to be fair, I am overweight. I finally got myself some new bras yesterday because they were half off, and I don't like to spend money on myself, but I found out I went up two bra sizes. Thank God I don't have that horrible 4 boob thing going on anymore, but up two sizes? I was grateful she wasn't there with me, not because I feel that terrible about my new bra size, but because her presence would have made me feel ashamed. Even though she is overweight, too. Women are tough on each other.
It's why I almost didn't get my new coat, because nothing seemed to look good on me yesterday- at least to her. She gave me the once over, a half hearted "that's nice, but isn't that just like the other coat you have?" Her face screamed that she was not impressed. Nope, not really. I confirmed this when I brought it home to show Justin, and asked him if he thought it was the same as my other jacket. He looked at me like I was crazy and said no, the two coats were completely different. (By the way, I love my husband). This coat has a tie around the waist, which actually gives me a waist. I think I look good in it.
I tried on this dress, it was lacy, black, and sexy. I put my new Spanx on under it, the first Spanx I have ever purchased, and went, "Wow! My butt looks smooth! My sides are nipped in! I've got some cleavage going- which, what is the point of having big boobs if you never show them off- and the skirt is a decent enough length that I don't look slutty!" I came out of the dressing room, as my mom had told me she wanted to see. Haltingly, she told me, "Oh, cute. Yeah." And nodded. She looked at me a few seconds longer, then asked, "Did you see yourself in a full length mirror?" Who wants to be cute in a dress designed to be sexy, with a v neckline and black lace? Um, yeah, I saw myself in a full length mirror. I thought that my husband would love this dress, and want to get me out of it at his earliest opportunity.
I couldn't buy it then, not with the way she looked at me in it. Her micro expressions were all negative, all condemning my cleavage and curvy (but now smoothly curvy- thanks Spanx!) torso. I did buy some boots that she wasn't overly impressed with either, but dammit, I can wear these every day. And I like them. The dress would be a date-night dress, and we can only afford so many of those. I suggested wearing the boots with skinny jeans, and she quickly told me, "Or just like that," meaning with pants over them. Apparently I look bad in skinny jeans, too.
When I told my husband about it, wanting his honest opinion, he told me that the boots look good this morning (with skinny jeans, thankyouverymuch) and that he thinks I'm sexy anyway. But that dress sounded good.
I did get $75 in Kohl's cash so I think I am going back to buy that dress on Monday. Sexy date night, here I come! Negative micro expressions be damned.