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3 Nonverbal Ways Your Body Lets You Know How You Feel to Optimize Your Choices

body dance photoYou and your body, together, are a highly sophisticated communication network that operates 24/7 around the clock throughout your life. Knowing how to interpret your body’s signals (emotions), as well as understand how your body interprets your verbal signals (thoughts, self-talk, beliefs, and so on), is vital to your health and happiness

Knowing the language of your body enriches your life with emotional intelligence, a conscious awareness of your self and your universal needs – or hardwired yearnings – for compassion (an understanding love) and meaningful connection (sense of unique contribution of self), wholeness (harmony inner and out experience of life) and balance (seemingly polarized impulses).

Emotional intelligence of the body enriches your cognitive intelligence. Nature seems to emphasize the synergistic possibilities of partnerships, and these too are no exception, totally designed to work together for optimal results. The wisdom of your body self is energy, light, and emotional intelligence. Without it, logic is a two-dimensional disconnect with which no life issue can be understood, much less resolved or transformed into an asset.

Your body uses 3 interconnected, nonverbal language systems to transmit vital information to you regarding how you feel, in any given moment or situation, in relation to what you most yearn, need and want. It uses the same set of rules, or directives, to communicate vital information to you, and these are ever prompting you to learn and grow, understand and take the lead as the choice maker, vision creator, aware wise-self agent of your life:

1. Breath.

You can understand a lot about what is going on inside of you, as well as the power of your breath, as healing source of life-enriching oxygen, by pausing to listen or connect with awareness in any given moment. A conscious use of breath work allows you to release tension and resistance, or to move the vital energies of pain and pleasure through the body by following and relaxing them, accordingly, to notice and observe the rhythm, depth, pace, rate, and location of your breathing. Your breath reflects the emotion and physical sensation states of your mind and body; it is one of the primary ways your body communicates with you at any given time, literally, to inform you of electro-chemical processes taking place throughout all systems. It is pure information seeking to keep you informed of any and all nuances or discrepancies between where you are at any given moment and where you yearn to be concerning some aspect of your life.

2. Emotions and emotional states.

You can learn a lot from pausing to feel, know and understand what your emotions and emotional states of your mind and body are telling you (about you) at a given time, especially the painful ones. Consciously connecting to painful emotions is a primary way to exercise your power to effectively and efficiently regulate, and thoughtfully respond to something that upsets you. Learning to relate to painful emotions as action signals allows you to build resiliency, remain flexible and in balance, transform your fears into assets. Like a compass, emotions continually show you where you are at any given moment in relation to what you most want and, or need at any given time or period in your life. Your need to matter and meaningfully connect in relation to your self and life around you is universal, conceivably, overarching all other yearnings.

You always have a choice to exercise your power to shift away from a fear-based emotion state to an optimal one, and “going opposite emotion” is a way to feel your emotions, understand what they are saying to you, and take some action to prevent overload and flooding that can occur when fear-based emotions are intensified to the point of flooding and emotional shutdown.

Toxic thought patterns, such a ruminating or wallowing, and limiting beliefs, such as blame, can lead to the avoidance of really feeling and dealing with your emotions. The avoidance of legitimate pain is the primary cause of suffering.

To regulate or keep emotions in balance means, first, to get to know your core emotion-drives, the unstoppable yearnings you came wired with that fall under your overarching need to matter, to meaningfully connect to yourself and life and others around you. The more you consciously know and love and understand yourself, the easier it becomes to conscious choose to disallow your thoughts to either, on the one hand, unnecessarily activate your body’s survival system, and thus, automatic defense strategies, and reactive actions that stem from thinking patterns that intensify painful emotions to unmanageable levels of intensity (i.e., anger to rage, in attempt to get your attention!!); or on the other hand, to react to pain and discomfort by avoiding, minimizing or numbing them with addictive substances or activities.  In most cases, protective strategies were formed in childhood, well served and helped you survive your formative years. Yes, they are quick-fix feel goods that likely no longer serve you in adulthood, and may be blocking your success. Nevertheless, letting them go is a delicate process, a balancing act of first embracing and understanding their value in supporting you to survive, grow and arrive to where you are today. To successfully let them go requires you to engage and dig deep to grow the self acceptance and compassion you need, perhaps also to grieve.

3. Physical sensations, movement and posture.

Your physical body, the way you sit, stand, hold your hands, your posture and so on, continually send messages to you and others. Correspondingly, you can literally change how you feel at any given moment just by making adjustments in your posture as you sit or stand. Pause for a moment and try the following. Stoop your shoulders and hang your head for a few seconds; then tune in and notice how you feel. Next, sit or stand tall and straight, holding your head high; again, notice how you feel. Was there a dramatic difference between the two? Most describe feeling sad or depressed sensations in the former posture, and confidence and strength in the latter.

To cultivate this powerful capacity, practice awareness of your posture and notice how this connects to how you feel, what you’re thinking or saying, and so on, in any given moment. Also notice the opposite is just as true. That is, change your posture when you become aware of feeling scared or shy or not confident, and notice the emotional shift to strength and confidence inside! The way you move, your posture and the way you stand or hold your head and arms, etc., have powerful effects of your emotion and feeling states of mind and body.

In sum, these 3 ways of communication your body uses to get your attention are just as vital as the verbal “words” you employ to inform your subconscious mind. Whether you do so with intent or not, your body is always tuning in to listen to what you think and say.  A conscious connection to the personal messages your body sends you, allows you to make informed decisions and to discern what is most important and valuable to you in the present moment with greater awareness. It’s not an either-or choice or situation. Nor is it a competition between the two. You need both to fully get to know and love yourself and life. For this reason, ideally, you become fluent in both languages. This optimizes your chances for happiness and success.

The language of your body is just as sophisticated, though in different ways, as the verbal language you use to understand how to live your live, how to contribute and enrich your life and others in meaningful ways.  Your body does not require verbal language to communicate to you; however, you need verbal language to clarify and build an understanding, transformative relationship with yourself, and synergistic relationships with others. Synergistic relationships occur when what two persons contribute together is far greater than the sum of what they each would individually. Ideally, this is what you strive for in conscious-love relating.





3 Nonverbal Ways Your Body Lets You Know How You Feel to Optimize Your Choices

Athena Staik, Ph.D.

Relationship consultant, author, licensed marriage and family therapist, Dr. Athena Staik motivates clients to break free of anxiety, emotion reactivity, and other addictive patterns, to awaken wholehearted relating to self and other. She is currently in private practice in Northern VA, and writing her book, What a Narcissist Means When He Says 'I Love You'": Breaking Free of Addictive Love in Couple Relationships. To contact Dr. Staik for information, an appointment or workshop, visit, or visit on her two Facebook fan pages DrAthenaStaik and DrStaik

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APA Reference
Staik, A. (2020). 3 Nonverbal Ways Your Body Lets You Know How You Feel to Optimize Your Choices. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 5, 2020, from


Last updated: 31 Mar 2020
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