• Dr. Emi Garzitto

The Art of the Open Face



Take away that face and facial recognition pattern and you have a nervous system that is unable to take care of itself. And that is a dangerous nervous system.


We are trained to read faces. This was an important part of our evolutionary movement forward. We could not survive without our tribe. Knowing who was a friend and who was an enemy was important. In fact it was life and death important. This is one reason why if you look over a sea of faces, your brain will focus in on the one face that looks at you with anger or contempt.


When we look at our devices, we have something called a still face. When studies were done with children as small as 3 months old, still face provoked the most distress. It is more upsetting than an angry face. Today, we are all in a sea of still face — A face that is registering no emotion at all.


Our ability to manage, identify and work with our feelings is all inside our body. We spent millions of years honing this skill. Developmentally we develop this skill by connecting with our peers, by being uncomfortable and then learning how to take care of our own body; spending time outdoors; having time where we are bored and under stimulated, by playing and by problem solving.


All of these skills helped us develop parts of our brain that know what to do when we are upset or sad or frustrated or angry. Take away that face and facial recognition pattern and you have a nervous system that is unable to take care of itself. And that is a dangerous nervous system.


Your ability to give an open face gives you the ability to calm someone’s nervous system. It gives you the ability to let them know, ‘Hey, you are not alone. I stand with you’. It gives them courage. It allows their nervous system to calm down. When you’re calm, you have access to the most powerful part of your brain, that prefrontal cortex everybody is talking about. Your prefrontal cortex helps you learn, helps you develop compassion. It helps you to be in the now but more importantly it helps you see past and future. It allows you to think of what is best for your future self.


That’s why I tell you your face is a superpower. Your ability to face someone and see them with an open face and open heart gives both the giver and receiver practice at being human.


We no longer get enough practice at being human. Look at someone’s face. Send them love. Send them your wish for their wildest hopes and dreams. You have just made the world a safer place, a kinder place, a calmer place.


I invite you to use your superpower with random abandon. I want you to own your superpower that took millions of years to get just right. When you face someone and see someone, you link in a line of ancestors who have worked hard to master the open face.


Use your open face superpower with wild abandon! Are you ready?

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