But take a look and explore remembering to ask yourself in respect of each emotion:

1. Open or closed ?

2. Open to what and closed to what?

3. Inviting or defensive (protective)?





Open or closed? This is something you would have seen in Looking Smart but something central to feelings that we need to explore.


The reason, it helps us to understand feelings better, the energy behind it and the action that follows.


This is how detectives use reading others emotions to solve a crime, and how jury consultants use it to help determine how a juror will most likely vote.




Open to what?

In surprise and fear we are open to more information, open to finding out what is happening around us.


We look in surprise to assess how we feel about the source of the surprise and if anything else unexpected is about to happen.


In Fear we look to see if there is any way out or if fighting is our best defense. Looking for tools we could use may also be something we are open to.

Eyes wide open, ready to react!


But this is in respect of our attention, and as we said feelings also reflect the energy generated and the action it drives.


Take (by contrast) surprise which does not generates a preparedness to act, because we have not yet determined how we actually feel about the source of our surprise.

Fight or Flight

On the other hand most other emotions generate a readiness to act.


Just take a look at the fight or flight response elicited by Fear. It is a defensive response that requires that you take action.... Defensive action to fight off the threat or to escape it.


This takes both energy and strength and the emotions actually help trigger the chemical changes that  help provide this.



Disgust is also defensive

Take a look at the wrinkled nose, something we see in both anger and disgust. Part of a survival reflex this is the body blocking off both putrid and potentially toxic fumes or other harmful particles.


It is also part of the muscle group that helps close your eyes, not completely, but rather to form a narrow stare, where most of the eyes are protected but you can still see. This is important as remember we still need to be open to information (so that you don't step in it).



The feeling of fear is in response to the perception of danger and leads to a confrontation with or escape from the threat (also known as the fight-or-flight response).


Inborn the feeling triggers an automatic response which includes elevated  heart rate and blood pressure along with the 'face of fear'.  This includes widened eyes and eyebrows slanted upward, which act to increase the capacity of this sense (of sight) so we can assess danger and escape routes.  It also shows more of the white of the eye revealing to others direction or the source of the fear.

Gag reflex: Get out and stay out!

But disgust includes pushing the offensive object away with the most instinctive act being the gag reflex.


This makes perfect sense when you recall that the expression of disgust is traditionally associated with and most commonly seen in relation to food.


In fact this is why the tongue sometimes protrudes, even when disgust is associated with other objects or experiences..

The bigger picture

As you explore you will discover just how this expand into the whole body which can be open or closed, inviting or protective,  (and offering a whole lot of other emotional and social clues


This is because Feelings are our messengers of meaning, the Why of what we do.