Some people wear their emotions on their sleeves. You would have to be blind to not see the emotions these people are feeling. It doesn’t matter if they are happy, sad, angry, or any emotion on the spectrum, you’ll know what it is. I’m not one of those people. In fact, I do not emote a lot of emotions. That doesn’t mean I do not have a lot of emotions. My face does not always show my emotions. It really has to be a pretty strong emotion before the emotion will show up in my face. People will assume I’m borderline sociopathic or an android. I assure you, I am not.
So what gives? Why can’t I just show fucking emotion? A lot of it stems from childhood. I was a scrawny, nerdy kid, easy for the bullies to mess with. I learned from a young age that showing bullies that you were scared or they hurt you was a sure way for them to come back for seconds. I was also rejected by most of the ladies back when I was a kid, and I didn’t have very many friends, mostly because I lacked the social skills to properly interact and lacked self confidence. If I built up a wall, so no one could see how much I hurt, it would make things easier, better.
My father also would tell me to quit being a sissy if I got hurt. Did that scar me? Not really. There was a lesson in there. Yes, I was experiencing pain. That cannot stop me from getting help or functioning. I remember an episode of Kung Fu: The Legend Continues where Caine was holding his fingers over the flame of a candle. Someone asked him how he could do that. Doesn’t it hurt? He responds (and I am paraphrasing) by saying, “It is not a question of whether there is pain. It is whether you mind that there is pain.”
Combine these couple of truths from my past, and add some pride in there, and I do not want people to know how much I am suffering. I do not want to burden people with my problems; they have enough of their own shit to deal with. The fucked up part about that is that it also prevents the happiness from escaping as well.
Is all hope lost? Fuck no, it’s not! What the fuck? I’m not some pessimistic shit bag! First, understand that if my face is showing emotion, it is a really, really strong emotion, positive or negative. Anger, happiness, sadness, love, etc. can actually be seen on my face if it is felt strongly enough. I have shed many tears when I have been sad or touched by a song, a movie, something that is especially moving. If you see love in my eyes or on my face, it’s the real deal. For people who do not emote a lot, but have emotions, it’s damn near impossible to fake that shit.
What about going forward? Do I want to be able to emote more? Sure. Keeping my emotions under wraps has its advantages; however, it makes it more difficult to connect with people. People generally suck and piss me off, but there are times it would be a lot easier if it were easier to connect with people. I will never be a touchy-feely person, and I have a personal bubble that I despise getting violated, unless you are one of the rare few that I’ve let in that personal bubble. I have to feel uber comfortable with someone to permit that.
I do have emotions, and I tend to keep those emotions close, rarely letting people see what I’m feeling. Is it a strength or a weakness? Honestly, it’s both. It helps in some instances, but hinders in others. The stronger the emotion, the more difficult it is to keep under wraps. If I’ve permitted you to peak at my emotions, you are one of the honored few in my eyes. If I have expressed my emotions to you, consider yourself a person I feel very close to.
One response to “Emotions”
I did an independent study on this in college. It fascinated me that people could actually have flat-affect intentionally. Aside from the aforementioned Sociopaths- it was really interesting to learn about this skill-set. Again, fascination can develop from lack of understanding and curiosity- i had absolutely zero poker face abilities. Still don’t. Even the passport photo they said “no smiling!” and i couldn’t help it, i began to smirk.
But if your emotions led to abuse, exploitation or any other negative consequence, it only makes sense to me that one would learn to protect themselves by inhibiting facial/body expressions. Since 95% of communication is non-verbal, there’s a good chance a trained professional (cough, like myself), may be able to play back the tapes and catch something called “micro-expressions”. Paul Ekman did some groundbreaking studies on them and discovered there are 7 core expressions that in 1/16th of a second we process something and display it in spite of trying to hide them.
To this point, in Dr. Ekman’s study, people had claimed they were not depressed and later committed suicide in some instances. He was able to identify a flashing moment to which they then tried to hide their expression but caught it on videotape in slow motion, going frame by frame.
Really powerful stuff. He studied Clinical Psychology at Adelphi University (where I received my Bachelor’s degree).
Whether its for poker, protection, or personal gain- the non-verbal communication and it’s breakdown is huge in understanding another person. It’s just another point why we’ve been so cheated the past two years with all these mandates of quarantine.