Tuesday, 29 January 2013

At least Paul Ekman doesn't lie to me...

Sorry about the pun, I just couldn't resist it... I loved this video of Paul Ekman where he discusses why triggers are so hard to tame. After years of hearing every "expert" making the solutions to problems so easy and making me feel like I must be such a moron for not being able to implement them at once, Paul Ekman's honesty feels reassuringly refreshing.



Related post The Golden Pause 

36 comments:

  1. Hi Kara,
    Everything Mr. Ekman says is a bullseye, IMO. I have done the things he's suggested, and I have had the same experiences--and yes, it was really hard, and it took a long time. I actually wrote a post about this in 2008 called The Golden Pause. And mindfulness is an amazing practice that really does increase our ability to be present. I can't say strongly enough how helpful it's been to me in just about every facet of my life!!

    Most of all, I'm with you on loving that he doesn't gloss over all the hard stuff and make it sound like personal change is easy. That definitely makes him one of the good guys.

    I have not heard of him. Are you familiar with him? Has he written any books?

    Kitty
    XX00

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    1. Thanks for the feedback Kitty, I have been trying not reacting to triggers -without knowing it was called mindfulness- for the last year, and it feels like holding a rudder in place in the middle of a sea storm. Really, really hard, but I'm starting to see results which makes me hopeful.
      Paul Ekman is a psychologist who did research on the relation between emotions and facial expression. I've only read one of his books :"Emotions Revealed: Understanding Faces and Feelings" and I found it fascinating. The character Cal Lightman in the series "Lie to Me" (hence the pun) was very loosely based on him.
      Love,
      Kara

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    2. You know, I think I read that book years ago without knowing this was him. In fact, it's the book I was reading that I refer to in "The Golden Pause" but couldn't remember the name. Wow! Small world! That was a really interesting book!

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  2. I do some of this. I struggle with the ones that catch me by surprise.

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    1. Yes, the surprise ones are really tough. :P xx

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  3. I checked out his website too. I haven't read his work but I'd like to. I remember so many times when my mother would "smile" at me I was really seeing a grimace. Her eyes would frown while she'd smile, and she'd pull her head back away from me as she smiled. It was AVERSION I was seeing. jeeeeez

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    1. It is so odd that they can't look at their kids with a loving expression. I noticed this too in a photo that my brother sent when his daughter was born. In it my mother looks at this new born baby as if it was a laboratory specimen. If you would have cut the picture you'd never have guessed that she was looking at her granddaughter. :P
      I think you'd like the series "Lie to Me", although some of the stuff is obviously done for entertainment purposes, it was really fascinating to have all these facial expressions explained.

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    2. I haven't watched Lie To Me, but I've always wanted to because I love Tim Roth. Is it still on? If not I'll check out Netflix.

      Facial expressions are a fascinating thing. I think contempt and indifference were the biggies in my FOO, and to this day I am hypersensitive to these expressions on people's faces, so much so that they can be a big trigger for me if it's someone close to me.

      Truly, a great topic.

      XX00
      Kitty

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    3. If you love Tim Roth (I do too) you're going to love "Lie to Me": he's brilliant as Dr. Cal Lightman :)
      You should be able to get the series on Netflix since they've been out on dvd for some time. As far as I know they only did 3 series.
      Contempt and indifference in someone's face are big triggers for me too.

      Kara xxoo

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    4. Thanks, I'll check it out. I did not know the premise. This makes the show even more enticing. I look forward to having a new not-so-guilty pleasure! :)

      Kitty

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  4. Hi Kara,
    We started watching Lie To Me last night on Netflix. It is a really good show! Cal Lightman is a pretty cynical guy. It makes us wonder if people who "see things" about other people and human nature in general are destined to cynicism. Jim thinks yes, I think no. I think the show is saying "yes" but it will be interesting to find out.

    Love
    Kitty

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    1. Hi Kitty,
      I agree that cynicism might be the initial reaction, but afterwards I would imagine that, if the person has empathy, it would progress to compassion. I thought ep.5 in series 1, about the rehabilitated gang leader, was very good (and quite touching) in this regard. Let me know what you think when you see it.

      Love,
      Kara



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    2. Hi guys, I'm going to watch episodes of Lie to Me on Demand on cable this weekend. I didn't know the premise, like Kitty, and so this fell under my radar. Tim Roth is a really interesting, underutilized actor. As for cynicism, I have strong feelings about it and will write a post about it in the future. But I'd love to know what you guys' think about cynicism as an attitude toward life, the world, other people. I think that cruelty and bullying often comes from a place of cynicism. but this is off the point. xo CS

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    3. Hi CS, I'm not a fan of cynicism as a general attitude, sometimes one cannot help but feel cynicism in relation to some subject -such as government policies... but as regards people I would side with Mr. Ekman and go for the compassionate stance. I can see why cruelty and bullying would come from a place of cynicism, because you'd have to cut off any feelings of compassion and understanding to be able to be cruel or bully someone. Look forward to read your post on the subject. love, Kara

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    4. Cynisicm, great topic. I love Billy Bragg's lyric in "Sometimes I See the Point" that "cynicism is such a copout, I know." He's a very political British socialist folk singer, and he's talking about how tired he gets in his fight against social justice. That line struck me the first time I heard it. I know cynicism is big for me; I think it's a way I distance myself from things that overwhelm me, social injustice being a good example. I think anger can be very good, a form of motivation, but when it crosses over into cynicism, it's immobilizing.

      And yet--if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention! I firmly believe this, too! I haven't been able to reconcile these two ideas. I think people have to remain idealistic if they are to continue spitting into the tide of injustice, but it's so hard to stay positive. I have no answers.

      Related to this, though: Because of Lie To Me and CS's recent post, I've been thinking a LOT about contempt. I do not like admitting this, but one thing that Jim and I both share is a lot of contempt. We really connect around our shared ideas about--for example--social injustice, and we can talk for hours about politics and how angry we are at "the way things are." I mentioned to him over the weekend that this contempt, which we sort of feed on with each other, is a way we carry on our FOO attitude; that the way we express contempt for things is the exact way our Nparents treated us with contempt. "Look at your brother," I said ("cabin guy"). "He drips with contempt. About everything. He's exactly like your father." "Yes," Jim agreed. "Well, when we're contemptuous about politics [for example], we're acting out of the same place," I told him. He agreed with me completely, and said he wished he wasn't like that. It's something we both need to work on.

      And yet--if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention! Cal Lightman seems to have solved this conundrum. I have set it as a goal for myself, not having the slightest idea where to start.

      Kitty
      XX00

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    5. I meant "the fight FOR social justice." My bad...

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    6. That's ok, I had already understood what you meant. I've been thinking about your comment today and I think you're right: people don't get angry about injustice because they're not paying attention. There was an experiment mentioned in one of Daniel Goleman's books that demonstrated how this happens. It's a bit too long to relate it here but I'll try to post about it when I get a chance. The experiment was about empathy (or the lack of it) but I think the principle it applies to anger as well.
      Anger has a very bad press as a feeling but I think that there is a healthy side to anger, if we think of it as an internal alarm system. Feeling anger should be a signal to us that something is wrong and needs to be changed. (as in social injustice, for instance). To extend this illustration to your point that when it crosses over to cynicism it becomes immobilising I would say that cynicism is comparable to hearing the alarm but turning it off and ignoring the problem.

      Thanks for sharing about your dealing with contempt. It made remember that contempt was very much an attitude in my FOO too(particularly in my father). I was a real snob in my twenties when it came to culture (like insisting in only watching independent films, etc). And snobbery is really about contempt, isn't it? When I got married my husband picked me up on it and helped me see how horrible it is. I would imagine that if he had had the same flea I might not have ever stopped being a snob. :P

      Kara XXOO



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    7. I can't imagine you as a snob, Kara. But I get what you're saying. And snobbery is about contempt, absolutely--what a great realization. And you're lucky your husband was able to challenge you on that. Jim and I are very alike in that area and as I said we can feed on each other this way if we're not careful. I've become much more aware of it because of our ACoN discussions and we're both working on changing it. Isn't it amazing how much we can replicate our FOO system even though we try so hard not to? I have been noticing this all over the place lately. I know that's a good thing, but it's hard to see in myself.

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    8. To tell the truth I can't imagine you or Jim being contemptuous either. My husband used to point out too (about me being a snob (or being contemptuous) that it didn't really feel like me. For the three years before I met DH I shared a flat with two other girls -see the post "Heckle and Jeckle" who were also snobbish,- so we were feeding off each other too. Like you say, it is a "replication" of our FOO system but not a true personality trait. (almost like implanted "malware") :P
      I know what you mean about it "being hard to see on oneself", when I first really "saw" what my husband was saying I was utterly horrified at myself. The thing to keep in mind is that at least if we see it we can do something about it.

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    9. I think the contempt we share is mostly about political issues and social injustice, which feels acceptable to both of us. There's a part of me that believes "if you're not outraged you're not paying attention." I'm not sure how to participate and not feel some sort of justifiable anger at the way things are.

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    10. I know what you mean, Kitty. I remember at the time of the war in Rwanda watching this tv footage of a woman in the UN council discussing whether what was happening fitted the definition of "genocide" or not, and feeling really outraged and also contemptuous of this spokeswoman because she couldn't see that the definition of what was happening was irrelevant to the issue, what really mattered was that Rwanda got help, and while they were deciding whether it was "genocide" or not, more people would die. Boy, did she make me mad. It was one of those moments when I really wanted to shout at the tv.

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  5. Hi Kara,
    Well you were right, I have completely changed my mind about Cal Lightman. He is a tremendous character. He sort of represents all the love, understanding, teaching, support and everything else that we all wanted and never got. His ability to love and accept people without judgment makes me very emotional. His ability to know not just what people want but what they need is just so powerful. I think he is a caricature, bigger than life, something that no person could actually ever be, but all of these traits tap into some of our most primal needs, esp. those of us who come from the backgrounds we do. I also love how they portray that: it seems all of his staff, except maybe Foster, come from dysfunctional backgrounds, and that this is what gave them their gift. I love how it's not a big part of the show, yet essential to really understanding the characters.

    It's a great show. I'm really enjoying. But yes, some episodes are hard to watch. I think you're right that the episode about the gang leader being the beginning of showing the role of redemption and compassion in Lightman. Gosh, there's so much more to say but I don't want to spoil it for CS. Thanks so much for this recommendation.

    Love,
    Kitty

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    1. Hi Kitty,
      I'm so glad to hear you're enjoying the show. There aren't many shows on tv that are so honest and compassionate about human struggles. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the episode of the gang leader. Maybe put on a spoiler alert warning like CZBZ has done in her latest post ;)

      Love,
      Kara

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  6. PS-I also love how they show famous people as examples of the expressions they're reading in people. It's enlightening!! It's educational!! That photo of Dick Cheney's contemptuous sneer is powerful, as is Clinton's shame. I just can't say enough about this show. It's opened up all sorts of streams of thought for me.--kitty

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    1. Me too!!! It's fascinating to see the expressions in real life people. I particularly liked the one about Nixon stepping back (to put distance between himself and his lie) and the one of Prince Charles.
      P. S. My husband likes Cal Lightman because he supports West Ham United Football Club (as in soccer). Watch out for the claret and pale blue scarf he wears ;)

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    2. I'll watch out for it and when I see it I'll yell "That's a West Ham United Football Club scarf!" My SO will look at me like I'm nuts and I'll have a little laugh over it. :-)

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    3. Hahahaha I wish I could see the expression on his face when you do ;)

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  7. I'll keep an eye out. Also want to say that watching this show has really heightened my awareness in talking to people. It's become really fun, and validating, to see that my hunches and intuition are right. Jim and I both definitely have a knack for this, and I know it's about our childhoods.

    As for the episode about the gang leader, I don't know...I think my biggest reaction was to Torres' reaction to him: her adamance that people can't change, and the glimpse into her past. (I guess I could relate.) I also liked how they kept us guessing right up until the end.

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    1. Hi Kitty,
      I am reading a book about intuition called "Blink" which discusses how the brain picks up on patterns. I guess that because of our childhoods, our brain has become more adept at "scanning" for certain patterns, very much in the way I imagine people in the jungle train themselves to scan for movement that might represent a threat.
      I had a similar reaction to the episode, I had to question my belief on whether, when push came to shove, I was openminded enough to accept that people could change. I guess in a way I should have known because I myself have changed in a lot of ways, but it's hard to see in other people, particularly when -like in the episode- it might involve trusting someone who has the capacity to do harm again. It was a very challenging episode but I think it is good to be challenged. The part about forgiveness was really moving, I cried my eyes out when the gang leader asks the woman for forgiveness. xx

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    2. Me too. That was really powerful. I'm getting a little teary just thinking about it now.

      I love Malcolm Gladwell. I read his "What the Dog Saw" about a year ago. Jim keeps telling me I should read Blink. He's shared a few stories from it that are fascinating. How do we know what we see? It's a very interesting premise.

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    3. This is my first Malcolm Gladwell book. I love his way of writing. Would Jim consider writing a post about "Blink" for your blog? I'd love to hear his views on the book. "How do we know what we see?" yes, it is a very interesting premise indeed. I think the optic nerve picks up information and contrasts it with what's already stored in your brain very, very quickly. I also think that if you come from families like ours, you've been forced to pay "extra attention" so this skill is even more developed.

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    4. What a great idea. I'll ask him. But it could be awhile. He works 60 hr weeks as it is...a few years ago I read a book about self-deception called Vital Lies Simple Truths by Daniel Goleman. It's sort of a related topic, but from a very different angle. It was good, too.

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    5. Tell him only to write it if is something he would enjoy doing (I really don't want to add to his work load, 60 hrs a week sounds more than enough :P) The Daniel Goleman book sounds interesting, I'll have to add it to the TBR list. :)

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    6. Hi Kara,
      I asked Jim if he would consider writing about Blink and he was interested, but said he'd have to re-read the book since it's been a couple of years. I'll remind him again, but I won't expect anything anytime soon.

      Kitty

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    7. That's ok, there's no rush, it looks like we're all going to be here awhile ;) xxoo

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