Polishing The Effect of Emotions on Success
I have often felt negatively about certain emotions (joy is not usually a problem) – or more specifically – negative about demonstrating them. To my mind, showing emotion is to leave myself vulnerable. It is a lack of control, over self, the world, fear, you name it. Yet despite my best intentions and efforts to exert control over them, I feel that emotions are not just a part of me, but part of my personality. Of course, at this point, I need to state that everyone has emotions; this does not make me special at all. I’m trying to describe that as much as I try to distance myself, my emotions seem to bleed through. I have taken to calling myself passionate, in order to try to explain the range of emotion – or rather to explain to people who look like they don’t know what to do with whatever emotion I am exhibiting (but may not be feeling). Passionate because my emotions seem big, too big for others, bigger than I intend them; when I’m happy my speech speeds up, when I’m nervous too, or feeling rushed. The volume often goes up too, as it also does when I’m angry, or fearful or frustrated. I don’t always realize it – I’m just passionate about whatever I’m talking about. And in this polite civilized society (descended from a British sense to keep emotions contained), I sometimes only become aware of the speed and volume because of the reaction from the people around me. It frustrates me because it is not my intent, because it gets in the way of the point I’m trying to make, because they make me feel that I look crazy, disturbed, angry, hyper, out of control – when I don’t necessarily feel any of those things in that moment. Big emotions are not welcome here. My emotions undermine me.
When I was young my parents divorced. Not a novel story here, and not one to which I attach too much suffering or angst (anymore). It happened, I learned things, and while it affected me, certainly, I don’t feel in any way defined by it. I truly feel that my parents’ marriage was between the two of them and really had nothing to do with me. Some collateral damage there, perhaps, but again, there were many good things that came of it all, and I always felt loved. What I have learned about myself though more recently, is how I felt about the emotions, mainly my mother’s emotions from the time. I don’t know if I remember exactly how I felt, but one of the residual effect is that I started to try to hide my emotions (I’m quite sure I was much less than successful, I was nine when the actual separation occurred). I might be strong at home, but I cried at school with very little provocation. Maybe I would have been like that, divorce or not, who knows? In any case, by the time I was in high school, I felt crying specifically was to be done where no one could see or hear me, at night mainly, in the dark.
And that is where I have attempted to keep those emotions, the ones that eventually come out as tears (which is to say all of them have that ability, at various points), with me alone, not be shared or consumed in public. Perhaps I peaked at keeping those emotions to myself, and now I’m back to where I started, trying to keep them hidden, but they come through anyway. I think too, that now I’m trying to accept them, to tell myself that showing emotion is not a negative thing in the sense of tears and vulnerability. That I’m only human and people (well mainly close friends and family) understand and are able to handle it (well, not all of them, I’m still pretty picky about who sees what, since there’s been some hurtful backlash, but at least I trust a few). They are still in my corner, even though I sobbed that one time.
I am coming to realize, and I hope I’m not wrong here, that learning to accept, understand and make choices about emotions and how they are demonstrated is the better way to ‘control’ them, not shoving them to the side and waiting until I get home (to my dark, solitary bedroom) to deal with it. Also, the latter method isn’t very successful, so in the interests of sanity, a new method must be deployed. I don’t want to be in the way of my own success, which I can be quite frankly (which is why coaches and mentors are critical to me), and the emotions – or rather unruly, misunderstood emotions – can definitely make things difficult. The balance of working towards my goals is very much tied into how I interpret and judge the emotions I’m feeling (and I judge them, a lot). Unraveling them helps me be a better person, and more human, certainly. But it is always uncomfortable.