Take one look at my face and you’ll know exactly what I’m feeling. Whether it’s joy, pain, frustration, surprise, or anger, I am comfortable showing my emotions. When someone wins a car on The Price is Right, you’ll see happy tears rolling down my cheek. When I share a memory about my dad, it’s hard for me to do so without getting emotional because I miss him. And in the past couple of months, I’ve experienced both sadness due to the loss of a family member and the joy of finding a new love. I am a living, talking, walking, and breathing emoticon.
Many people I know exercise a lot more discipline and restraint than I do. A man I love and admire often talks to me about self-expression. What I’ve come to understand about the term is that it’s all about the words we use to express our emotions, and in order to accurately show our emotions, we need to first get it right in our own minds. Thinking first before speaking is probably a good plan.
I’m fortunate to have a ton of words in my toolbox (because I talk a lot). Other people might not be similarly equipped, so we have to employ different means to take their emotional temperature. We might ask for a number on a scale of 1-10, with one being in the depths of despair, and 10 imagining they won the lottery. And sometimes the imagery of a traffic signal is more within reach, i.e., red light, yellow light, green light.
At the end of the day, expressing our own emotions and helping those around us to express theirs, is both scary and liberating. How can that be? Sharing my truth makes me vulnerable, and that’s scary. Yet admitting my own vulnerability liberates me, and enables me to have deeper, more meaningful relationships with those who are important to me. In a perfect world, I’d wave a magic wand and change the world’s perception of vulnerability from weakness to strength. Wouldn’t it be nice if people felt at ease to cry or laugh, to be silly or somber, irrespective of the opinion of others?
Take a moment to recall the horrific event on the football field during the recent Bengals/Bills game when Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest. Many of his fellow teammates stood in shock with tears streaming down their faces while first responders were desperately working to save his life. Not a single one of those athletes was trying to cover up their emotions. These NFL players, who are some of the manliest men you could possibly imagine, were unapologetically crying. Is that a sign of weakness? I don’t think so.
Perhaps we could all learn something about showing emotions from the football players on the field that Monday night. Maybe a healthy dose of self-expression could serve to strengthen our significant relationships.
How do you express your emotions? Please share your thoughts.