Your Body is Talking, Are You Listening? An Introduction to Body Language

Listen to your gut is a phrase that often gets dismissed as cliché, but actually refers to deeply ingrained internal processes that have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years.

Below, I will explore the idea of “listening to your gut,” provide examples of how to decode what your body is communicating to you, and discuss how you can use those insights to navigate life’s complexities more effectively.

The human brain is a complex organ that is made up of three main parts: the hindbrain or lower brain, the limbic or midbrain, and the neocortex. In this article, I will be focusing on the midbrain, which is also referred to as “the emotional brain,” because it is involved in our emotional responses, unconscious behaviors such as instincts, and social situations.

Here are the key ways our bodies are communicating, often below the level of our awareness.

Body Language

One of the most important ways that our midbrain communicates with the world around us is through our body language. At any given moment, through a mixture of gestures, mannerisms, and posture, our bodies are sending and receiving these non-verbal signals. They can send signals that we are comfortable, welcoming, and excited, or that we are intimidated, scared, and uncomfortable. This means that even though we may verbally say one thing, our body language may be saying another. This can have unintentional consequences including social misunderstandings and even potential conflict with others.

For instance, if you were to tell someone that you are happy to be at a party, but are seen sitting alone, crossing your arms, and looking down – it may be interpreted that you are hiding something or not telling the truth about how you feel. By noticing and reflecting on our body language, we can learn more about how we feel, and make deliberate choices about how we want to behave based on this increased self-awareness. The added benefit is that this can aid us in building stronger and more meaningful relationships.

Facial Expressions

Our facial expressions and mannerisms can convey a wide range of emotions to those around us. We are constantly communicating feelings such as joy, excitement, fear, or anger without saying a word. Facial expressions are fascinating in that they are universal among different cultures and countries. Practice paying attention to your own facial expressions to develop a greater insight into how you are feeling and what you may be conveying to others.

Tone and Speed of Voice

Taking note of the tone and speed of your own voice or that of another can be an important indicator of how you/they are feeling and can convey a range of different emotions. When we’re feeling happy or excited, our tone of voice will often reflect this (higher pitch), and our speed typically increases. Conversely, when we’re feeling sad or angry, the tone of our voice may be more subdued or tense, and our speed can slow down or get more drawn out. Remembering that how you say something is just as important as what you are saying and can make a big difference in the way your message is received. As with the other ways in which your body is communicating, you can use your increased awareness to better understand how you are feeling and how to navigate the situation you are in.

Raising Awareness Through Mindfulness

Just like anything we do in life, improving our communication skills and awareness of both verbal/non verbal language and behaviors takes practice and time. A great way to start improving your ability to “listen to your gut” is by practicing mindfulness. Begin checking in with yourself throughout the day and take note of where you are, what you are doing, and how you and your body are feeling in that given moment. After gathering the information, take a minute or two to reflect on what you are noticing and feeling. Is your reflected body language congruent with how you are feeling internally? If not, continue to remain present to explore why that may be.

Being intentionally present in this manner allows our mind to pay closer attention to subtle shifts in body language that we may otherwise not pick up on and further deepens our mind-body connection. In doing this, you will be better able to determine what feelings and/or motivations are being expressed at any given time and consciously adjust your own behavior accordingly. For example, if someone was displaying nonverbal cues that indicate they are uncomfortable or anxious, you may decide to adjust your own behavior(s) to make them feel more at ease. Alternatively, if someone displays cues that indicate they are happy or excited, mirroring those emotions will aid in building rapport and make that person feel understood.

Whether you’re trying to build stronger and deeper relationships with others, evaluate a potentially threatening situation, or simply gain a better understanding of your own emotions and sense of self, learning to listen to the language of your body can be one of the best ways to do it.


Brain Basics: Know Your Brain (2023).

Nonverbal Communication and Body Language (2023).

Bargh, John A, and Ezequiel Morsella. “The Unconscious Mind.” Perspectives on psychological science : A Journal of the Association for Psychological Science vol. 3,1 (2008): 73-9. doi:10.1111/j.1745-6916.2008.00064.x