Our body signals are the gateway to recognising, interpreting and managing our feelings. That is why Body Intelligence (BQ) is such a fundamental aspect of developing Emotional Intelligence (EQ).
There are times when each of us, no matter how skilled we may be, has trouble recognising how we are feeling. When we have lost touch with our emotions as can happen with trauma, body signals can be a great support in helping us notice and interpret what we are feeling. Even when we are unable say how we are feeling emotionally, most of us can learn to identify and describe what is happening in our body—our ‘body signals’.
The human body is an extremely sensitive instrument. People can pick up subtle changes in personal relationships, in temperature and in atmosphere. We notice changes in tone of voice, facial expressions and gesture. This sensitivity to the language of the body is a highly sophisticated part of what it is to be human—it is at the heart of how we keep safe and build connections with others.
Body signals can be thought of as signposts for feelings. For example, we may not know consciously that we feel unsafe, but our body may be giving us a clear warning sign through a tight tummy, sweaty palms or a beating heart. Or we may be unaware that throughout the day we have accumulated quite a lot of stress, until we notice the tightness in our shoulders when we arrive home.
With practice even very young children can learn to recognise their body signals (and those of others) as strong indicators of emotions. In fact, our bodies are very often our clearest and most honest communicators, especially if we have learnt to disregard, suppress or second-guess our feelings. Of course, we can all do this from time to time, but unfortunately it can become entrenched if abuse has taken place. Therefore, it is through our body signals that many counsellors and therapists are helping children and adults learn (or re-learn) what they are feeling, and establish appropriate boundaries for personal safety. For this reason, people working in trauma-informed care with children, young people and adults may find Body Signals particularly useful.
While these kinds of conversations may be at the heart of protective behaviours work in particular, the Body Signals cards are ideal for opening up crucially important learnings about body signals with anyone. So, teachers, social workers, counsellors and parents will also be among those to use the Body Signals cards.