Has the remote stopped working? Don’t worry, just give it the same ol’ beating with your palm.
Has your phone hung? No problem, just reboot/ tap it - it should work just fine.
You didn’t need me to tell you all this, right? These are some things which we do without being instructed or told to do so. It’s almost like we are born with the knowledge of stretching the remote’s life by tapping it again and again.
Similarly, when we go to a temple, we remove our shoes and ring the bell without being told to do so. When it gets cold, we tend to rub our hands instinctively.
There are a lot of processes that we undertake without really paying much attention to them. According to me, we do them either out of habit, subconsciously, unconsciously or non-consciously – but definitely not consciously. To some extent, we can also club reflexes under this. After all, we don’t think about jerking our knee when hit there by a hammer, right? It is an automatic response.
A lot of these are seen in our daily lives. While waiting for our turn (for anything – example: Interview, to go onstage), we tend to fidget around or shake our knees while sitting. While waiting for our food to arrive (in a restaurant), we tend to play around with the cutlery etc.
I have a habit of playing with my hair whenever I am bored or nervous. I also tend to bite my lip when I am thinking or trying to concentrate on something.
Of course, I never knew this until someone pointed it out to me.
Many are universal while many are not. Many say that this information is passed down through the genes. Others say that humans are born with two innate characteristics – Imitation and Empathy.
The former is cited as the reason for our knowledge about things like removing our shoes before entering a temple, or comforting someone by hugging them.
I’ve seen a lot of men playing with their beard(s) or moustaches (without realising this) while engrossed in deep conversations or thoughts; in case they don’t have any facial hair, they stroke their chin(s).
I’ve observed that a lot of women are inclined to look at / play with their nails when lost in deep thought; they also have a propensity to play with their rings or earrings while talking to someone.
I think the most common one (which gets very embarrassing at time) is when we are not aware of the fact that we are staring at someone, when we are actually just looking into blank space (lost in our thoughts). It can get creepy if someone thinks that we’re staring at them on purpose. (Been there, done that. It is embarrassing beyond any doubt.)
As I said, some are unique to their owners as well. I have a tendency to gently wipe my right eye after having a good laugh. Weird, I know.My friend has a tendency to purse her lips while she is studying or writing. I’m sure that a lot of you have some quirky and distinctive responses as well.
Famous TV shows like ‘Downton Abbey’ and ‘How to Get Away with Murder’ have their characters indulging in a lot of such responses. Of course, the actors are doing it consciously; their characters aren’t - it makes them relatable, don’t you think?
All in all, it’s fun to watch and observe people; to see their interesting habits and “reflexes”. It’s also fun to know about our own, when others point it out.
Also, to some extent, it helps us identify what a person is feeling or thinking – I have a friend who scrunches up her nose whenever she is angry; a lot of us tend to intertwine our fingers and look down whenever we’re upset. We don’t realize that we are doing it, it just happens.
Some are common and funny, some are unique (and quirky) and some act as windows to someone’s mind or personality. I feel that this is (yet again) another example of how powerful and amazing the human brain is, isn’t it? Processes which don’t require any thinking!
In the words of a verse –
“Human mind, oh so mighty,
Actions so varied and innate,
From running fingers through your hair while bored,
To twiddling thumbs during an uninteresting date
From tapping nervous feet,
To table-drumming your fingers to a beat,
Different and unique responses, to life’s many a game;
Poles apart, and yet common, we are all the same.”
Someone has very rightfully said – “Actions speak louder than words”. So do these intrinsic responses. Food for thought, eh?