Emotions are interesting indicators. In fact, I like to think about them as Bio-indicators. A bio-indicator is a biological response that “reveals the presence of pollutants by the occurrence of typical symptoms or measurable responses“.
Well, our emotions are qualitative indicator that signals how we are responding to our environment. For example, fear may indicate a perceived danger in our environment.
However, though emotions are a natural indicators.
There is a group element to emotions too. Recent studies have developed these ideas further. One idea that I find interesting is, emotional contagion which theorizes that as people work together in groups, their emotions tend to converge or become similar over time.
We as humans are highly influenced by the emotions of others and this is a good things as it helps us work together. However, without boundaries as outlined in ‘The Joy of Being Selfish: Why You Need Boundaries and how to Set Them’ its easy to blur lines and not be able to see what are your emotions and what are the emotions of others. This is often confused as empathy but actually it is a lack of boundaries.
You can hold space for people feelings and emotions without getting so method, that you feel them too. I use the word ‘method’ to refer to method acting. Method Acting is defined by Raymond Hamden, a clinical and forensic psychologist, as “compartmentalizing their own feelings while playing another character so they could bring the emotions of that personal feeling to cry if they needed to with that character.” This however has being found to have long-term psychological effects, like emotional fatigue, or holding onto emotions and trauma in the body. Now, you may be thinking this only applies to actors. However in the famous line from the Shakespeare play ‘As You Like it’: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”. We are all playing roles e.g. good student, child, lover, parent, worker etc and this can impact us all.
A personal reflection was when I was reading my journal from 2016 and my diary input from the day of a charity event I organized that wasn’t successful. I could see how logically I viewed everything and how I highlighted the factors that lead to the lack of success. It was simply one event too much to organize in last months of a challenging masters degree. However, something struck me, that I cried when I wasn’t sad. You see, I knew logically I had not set myself up for success that time and the failure was a lesson. However, I cried because of the emotional contagion. This was an example of letting others emotions affect mine.
Call to Action
I wonder how many time do we all let the emotions of others affect the clarity that we have:
- We don’t start that business we want to due to other people’s fears
- We don’t show up authentically due to other people’s shame
Why inherit or being infected with feelings that aren’t yours, without any checks and balances. You wouldn’t leave your front door open to anyone. Then why do we leave our emotional gates unlocked and unchecked.
Being autistic, I feel more aware about the programming I am receiving and what does not originate from inside me and is taught. I have worked hard to learn to fit in and adopt some external modality. However, more and more, I question what I have learnt, if it serves me or if it keep me from harnessing the benefits of my true nature.
What happens if we all never learnt the social programming to fear failure? or fear of social exclusion? Would we make difference choices? Would we all chose belief and programming that serve our own purposes?
Therefore, why not undertake some emotional house keeping and check in with yourself:
What emotions are you holding onto that, are not yours?
I say, its time for some emotional Spring Cleaning 🙂