I had an interesting conversation with my son this morning about emotions. We were speaking about a friend of his who has great difficulty in expressing his feelings. This young man internalizes his negative emotions and even puts a cap on his positive ones. He believes his feelings, good or bad, make him weak and vulnerable.
Unfortunately this is a common theme in today's society. The societal norm has been that when we express our less than positive emotions we show weakness when in all actuality acknowledging our hurt, disappointment, and even anger, etc. is a very empowering experience.
When we ignore or hide our feelings, we take a very big risk of letting it grow and fester into something much larger than it ever should have been or even worse, letting it gain control over our ability to communicate or connect with other people. Shutting down our emotions leads to depression, anger and sometimes even isolationism. By isolationism I mean closing off all interaction because we develop the false belief no one could, would, or should understand the depth of our pain and/or suffering. A person can begin to wallow in their own pain which sometimes becomes more familiar than their memories of happiness, joy or even contentment. These seem more like a fantasy or ideal than an actuality.
So I suggest 3 basic steps to help you with your emotions.
1. Acknowledge all of your emotions. A mental shout-out in your head is all it takes. If something angers, you then give yourself permission to say, "That really pisses me off!" And on the flip side, acknowledge when something or someone makes you happy. These are baby steps for your new personal comfort zone.
2. Once you get comfortable with the acknowledgment part, add the step of why something gets a rise out of you. "That pisses me because... " or "He/She/It makes me happy when... " Keep it simple. We don't want to get into some intense over-analyzation right now.
3. Finally, when you are at ease enough to logically and consciously accept your emotions then you can vocalize them to another person if need be. The trick here is not to wait for some point in the future where you use it as a weapon but to let it be known in a timely fashion where communication is of the utmost importance.
"I need to let you know I was upset with the tone of voice you used with me today when we were discussing (... ). I understand we both have differing opinions and sometimes our conversations can become heated but I truly believe if we can take a second and a step back we can come to a compromise that suits us both."
"I was so happy today when you went out of your way to call me and let me know you would be late. I know you are busy, but it really means a lot to me that you let contacted me. Thank you."
I don't see any weakness in either of those examples, do you?
We screw up our own lives by being of afraid of what others think of us and also how we perceive certain situations. One of those mistakes we all make is thinking others will find us "less than" if we show our sensitive or vulnerable side. Think of it this way: if we are honest about our feelings with someone we care about, and they use it against us then this is not a person who is good for us in the first place. If you are a person who acts that way to your loved ones then maybe you need to take a good hard look at yourself on why you do it.
Maybe you are afraid someone will think less of you.
The main thing is to know that emotions are fleeting and are not based in reality, but in perception. Own your feelings and your emotions. This conscious awareness allows you to grow as a person and to never allow another person the ability to control you by your fear of being vulnerable.