I’ve always been fascinated by how our emotions work. To me, it intuitively seemed like they’re all in our heads. I thought that all we needed to do to understand our emotional states and to get out of them was logic.

My perspective changed when I read an amazing study by Aalto University that revealed that we experience our feelings  in different and specific parts of our body.

See how:

Emotions Are Felt From Head to Toe

As you can see, different parts of our bodies experience changes in activity levels when we feel different emotions.

In the image, yellow/red shows above-average activity and blue shows below-average activity.

Bodily map of emotions

Evolutionarily, it makes sense that our bodies exhibit these changes because they prepare us to react on behalf of our emotions.  

For example, when we are angry our upper body, arms, and feet have more energy because our bodies are preparing to fight. Or, with surprise, our eyes show more activity because they need to open as wide as possible to take in the sight of whatever caught us off guard.

People Can Spot Your Hidden Emotions

When I was conducting research for my book Captivate, I sought to gain a deeper understanding of  how emotions work, and I stumbled upon a little people puzzle. We ran two different polls on twitter where we asked two sets of similar questions.

The first question was: “When I am nervous on the inside, I can disguise it very well from others.” True or false? 60% agreed with that statement, 40% did not.

The next question we asked was “I can instantly spot a phony the minute I meet him or her. True or false? 67% replied true and  33% replied false

Do you see the contradiction? Most of us feel like we can hide our emotions but we also think that we can spot others when they are faking it. What this reveals is that we often think we are more in control of our emotions than we actually are. So if you’re going to events you don’t like, you’re going on dates you don’t want to be on, or you’re putting yourself in other social situations you make you uncomfortable, you may think you’re putting on a good face but it’s hard to hide that anxiety–you feel it and show it in your body.

Thrive in Your Social Life

To avoid coming across as a phony by faking a positive attitude, I want you to think about how can you be more you! How can you show up to places you really like? Your social life will become so much more enjoyable when you base your decisions on what works for you and not other people.

This is the basis of one my favorite tips in my book Captivate which is that you should only show up to places where you thrive. These are places where you genuinely enjoy the interactions you have with people. Right now I want you to think of three places that fit that description.

Now I want you to think of three places where you barely survive. These are places where you don’t enjoy hanging out with other people and spend the majority of time wishing you could leave. When you go to places where you don’t like being there, people can tell.

You’re much better off socializing in places and with people that bring out your best self.

Don't let the learning stop here. Captivate is available now!

Ever wonder what makes people tick? Want to know the hidden forces that drive our behavior? In Vanessa Van Edwards' new book Captivate, she explains a simple blueprint for hacking human behavior. In this science packed, anti-boring guide you will learn:

  • The formula for fascinating conversation
  • How to walk into a room full of strangers and make a killer first impression
  • What to do to increase your impact and income using people skills
  • Our strategy for hacking the people code–we call it the matrix (Keanu Reeves not included with each book sale)
  • The art and science of understanding people

Learn the new–science based way for winning friends and influencing people.

Ready to keep learning? Read on...