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Natural expression

A natural expression is an automatic reflex that defies manners, sophistication and education; it is the action we make simultaneously in response to situations that tear the veneer of the personality we assume over time. It goes beyond the smiles, frowns and tears.

It is more to do with actions that unfortunately have consequences and change people’s opinion of us. People are wired differently, they react to different situations in ways that are as diverse and sometimes unexpected as one can imagine.

It is possible to be the most gentle and even mild mannered person possible and still react in a violent manner to the right stimuli.

A natural expression of any individual can be modulated by maturity, religion and life’s circumstance but it can’t be completely erased as it can be resurrected given the right amount of stress at the right times.  To better understand ourselves and have better relationships we must always seek to look beneath the surface of smiles and niceties and know the real people behind the masks we all wear.

People who have suffered abuse tend to have a natural expression of fear; they react in fear to everything and are suspicious and anxiety ridden most of the time. Others who have bottled up resentment over the years have a natural expression of aggression just as much as those who have been past aggressors.

For some people, judgement is a natural expression and it comes in the form of morbid curiosity about anything and everyone. The most common natural expression is a lie; there are those of us who, when in an uncomfortable situation, will automatically respond with a lie, and while even the most pious of us have fallen in a lie from time to time; there are those who have turned lying into a fine art.

Last week had been spent in a retreat which had lasted longer than I had anticipated and I had found myself in a position of explaining why a good friend of mine had a natural expression that was almost vile and mean spirited.

There is nothing like deprivation of food and a few creature comforts to bring out the beast in all of us and while I can’t claim to have been Mother Theresa, my natural expressions were kept under tight rein more successfully than others by grace alone.

I find hunger easier to cope with than lack of sleep, a few more days without sleep would perhaps have revealed a natural expression that would have needed the attention of some prayer warriors but thankfully it didn’t get to that. Without a phone for communication and television for entertainment, I spent some quality time wondering how our personalities are formed and how they affect our natural expressions.

I went back in recent history and thought about the natural expressions I had witnessed that people had tried to cover up in embarrassment. In the most recent history I had discovered a violent streak in one of my favourite people and it was always triggered by frustration.

It surprised me as the person is actually very gentle, thoughtful and even very kind. I’m actually not into violence in any way but I found that beneath my often cool demeanour is often anger that bothers on rage when I am cut in situations where I’m frustrated.

It’s been my experience that whatever comes out of my mouth especially in anger could make front page news, so it’s better to just grit my teeth and shut up. I was more surprised to find that lying was the most common and hurtful of the most natural expressions and in no way was it better illustrated by another person who seemed to have woven a very colourful tapestry of lies and empty promises around those of us dumb enough to listen.

Nudity is a natural expression but since being naked is akin to madness we cover up with clothes. We are still naked underneath all the fancy garments but we make the effort to hide it. A natural expression in the form of an action that’s a blemish can be tamed and kept underneath a veneer of good behaviour.

These days, a lot of people are taking off the veneer of civility to express frustration and there is no better example than the one I witnessed recently.

A man at an airline counter was frustrated at the lack of assistance he was getting and decided to get on the said counter and take off his clothes one at a time to make his point. He got the attention he was seeking a few seconds before his boxers came off and left a number of us wondering whether he was mad or a genius.

These days I have been paying more attention to expressions that are anything but cool; I’ve actually been testing the depths of sincerity in people and it is separating a lot of chaff from wheat. There’s no better way to know where you stand or who people truly are till they are backed into the right corner; the natural expression will be the deciding factor; it can’t be faked!!


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