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Essay - Your Face

 

Take another look at your face in the mirror

Your face - not just faces in general, but your face in particular, is the product of thousands of generations of evolution.  Every creature including human beings has an outer coat perfectly suited to the environment it lives in.  In animals this outer covering has the purpose of warmth, camouflage or armor.  It is no coincidence that leopards in the jungle, where daylight is a mixture of sun and shadows have coats that are yellow and black, while snow leopards that live in the icy Himalayas have coats of almost pure white.

Mother Nature does not play favorites.  She tries her best to help every species by providing each individual with the best chance of survival.  The exterior of every creature - plant and animal alike - is an evolutionary adaptation to the most constant danger that creature will face.  Animals and plants use their exterior to not only protect themselves but also as a tool to help provide their basic survival needs.  The jungle leopard’s most constant threat is starvation.  To help it hunt, nature provides the jungle leopard with a coat specifically adapted to life in the forest.  This increases the leopard’s chance of a surprise attack and a successful kill.  The snow leopard by contrast has two consistent threats, starvation and the cold.  As a result the snow leopard also has a camouflaging coat but one that’s much thicker to provide the extra warmth it needs. 

Obviously nature cares just as much about us as she does about other animals.  While we acknowledge how nature uses the exterior of animals to help them acquire their needs and protection, we never apply these rules to ourselves.  We see our exterior body as different from other animals because we use our brain not our body to survive. We may not need camouflage or armor to protect us from other animals but we do need help protecting ourselves from history’s most consistent threat - each other.

Our external body serves exactly the same purpose as the body of every other living being; it helps us acquire our fundamental needs and it helps protect us from danger.  The intent is the same - the threat is not. 

Human beings can only survive by living in groups, we have never not lived in a family group or community, it is our nature – always has, always will be. Expulsion from the group is our greatest threat because historically expulsion meant death.  Expulsion, rejection and being alone are our deepest and most ingrained fears.

As a health practitioner I have seen thousands of patients and heard thousands of personal life stories, and without doubt what people wish for most in reference to emotional wellbeing, is that they didn’t care so much about what other people thought of them.  Everyone seems to believe they are less competent, less attractive or less smart, than the people or friends around them.  What I can tell you is that everybody feels this way.  Perhaps this is not much of a revelation because you either suspected or knew this fact anyway, but perhaps you do not know why this is so or why nature has planned it this way?

Everyone feels ‘less’ by comparison because it is nature’s way of keeping us on our toes.  The greatest threat to individual survival is complacency and feeling secure.  Human beings survive by providing to the group more than they personally need.  We don’t graze like other herd animals, we work as a group and we provide for the group, and anyone who historically did not pull their weight was expelled if famine occurred.  Have you ever seen anyone who has been made unemployed or someone who wants to do nothing but lie around all day, display real and deep contentment?  Often people who are made redundant suffer an array of emotional problems, their self esteem hits rock bottom and many lose all sense of worth.  The reason for this is their survival instinct feels threatened because individual security comes from providing to the group.  People who do not contribute to their family group or society generally feel anxious, guilty, worthless or alone.  The more we lie in bed and do nothing, the more terrible and worthless we feel.  

Pulling your weight and contribution means more than looking after yourself, historically it meant being able to provide more than your share.  This meant others could benefit from your labor and the whole tribe could become self-supporting.  For the individual, providing more than your share meant you were a wanted part of the group, which in turn secured your chances of not being expelled if hard times returned. The desire to do well, to be good at something, to be wanted, needed, attractive or important, is as basic to the human condition as it gets.  Times may have culturally changed but our instinct still lives in a cave.

So what has all this got to do with your face?  The human face is our primary way of conveying emotional need.  Our facial expressions and our body language is the only way human beings can accurately convey the intensity of their emotions.  Ideas and concepts can be conveyed by words but only an animated face or body can communicate feeling and emotional need. 

Your face is external; you cannot see it without a mirror.  This is because its primary function is to help you connect emotionally with other people and for you to know what it feels like to be them.  Your face is for other people to see, it is how they understand you and it is how they read what emotions you are feeling and what you require.  Every parent knows when their child is upset without their child having to utter a word.  Those without children say the same about their partners and sometimes even their friends but that only strengthens my point.

We are all born with different needs and fears as well as different strengths and talents.  Evolution has adapted your external body and especially your face, to allow others to see what strengths and weaknesses you have - this attracts certain types of people towards you.  Every one of us is an expert at reading facial features and body language, we all read it and we all express it – but this is never at a conscious level.  This is instinct. 

Our face conveys to others in the group our weaknesses as well as the talents we provide.  Through our face we show others our value to the group.  It also attracts opposite personalities to fill in our personal shortfalls. 

The amount is too numerous to know how many times I have heard a life story of repeating patterns, people or circumstances.  There are people who attract one nasty partner after another, while there are other people who never experience anything but happiness and compassion.  Some people are followed by accidents or drama or constantly fall in with the wrong crowd.  Often – thankfully – repeating patterns are positive; a person who loves one challenge after another, or a person who is always starting a new business venture.  It could be a person who can always be relied on for inventing a series of new and bright ideas, or a person who is always on the look out for adventure.  Some people are constantly embroiled in turmoil while others seem to have the Midas touch with everything they do. 

We are responsible for putting out the signals that attract other people and events – for better or for worse.  It is our face that communicates what services we provide and our willingness to provide them.  A series of similar events or people is never a string of unrelated luck.  People and events are always an answer to the call we have unconsciously sent out.  The opposite is also true, what we communicate at an unconscious level can be read and interpreted in our face – if you know how to do it.

These concepts and many more are found in Soul & Survival