Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Are you in touch? Am I?

I had an interesting conversation with my friend Dave last week. Someone we both care about had just received some bad news. I asked Dave how this friend and his wife were doing, and he said, "They're doing well, actually. They're both really in touch with their emotions, and I think that helps them process everything coming at them right now and stay present in a way that's helpful."

I was baffled by this response. You see, Dave is not a guy who throws around phrases like "staying present" easily, nor is he one to enthuse at great length about the importance of validating every feeling that wanders by during the course of the day. So the fact that he singled this out as a determinative factor for our friends' well being during this challenging time was provocative.

It made me wonder: Am I in touch with my emotions? Do I want to be? How do you even know? My emotions aren't located in some nicely designated spot where I can reach for them when I find myself with twenty free minutes and a box of Kleenex. I'm simply not that organized. They wander by, and I sort of acknowledge them or push them away--much like the email ads I get from various stores offering 20% off something I may or may not need--to be dealt with later or (more often) ignored and deleted. Now, I'm not completely shut down. If I hear the song "If You're Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands," I can decide pretty quickly whether or not I should clap. But when I've gone through tough times, I've found that my feelings would lead me quickly down a pretty grim path if I followed them, so I mostly chose not to. I guess it's a survival instinct of some sort.

A singer I like wrote a blog post once, about not letting her emotions grab her by the tale and swing her around anymore, and that's kind of how I feel. I clap when I'm happy, and cry when I'm sad (and I've learned to hop on the treadmill when I'm angry or frustrated, as it's best to be away from all means of communication when that happens :) ) But I don't have an inner gauge recording my emotional temperature at any given moment; I just sort of live.

How about you? Are you in touch with your emotions? How does that work for you?

20 comments:

Em said...

I certainly would like to think that I am in touch with my emotions...I think this may one of those things you can't accurately judge on your own..maybe? Maybe this is one of those areas that we're too blind to really see or determine in ourselves? I would be interested to know what those close to me would say. I think I may trust their judgment more than mine. It's a great question...

btw, I have always thought of you as one who is "in touch with their emotions". You're real - no pretense - it is what it is. That's a big part of being in touch with yourself...I think.

Larramie said...

Staying present works well to not only keep me grounded but balanced as well.

L Sass said...

Lately, I don't feel so in touch with my emotions. My work frustration just seems to have metastized and spread out into a ton of other areas of my life. Right now I am trying to compartmentalize those negative feelings. If I have to be angry at my boss, fine, but I'm not going to let it affect the good parts of life!

heidikins said...

I'm like you most of the time... right up until I feel like I just can't take it anymore and have to have a good heart-to-heart with myself regarding myself. I don't exactly know how to define the mechanics of that talk but so far it's worked out alright...in an emotional roller-coaster with no end in sight sort of way.

JenKneeBee said...

I think I try to know what I'm feeling and why because it helps me deal with problems in a constructive way. That being said, I don't always succeed in doing that.

Accidental Admin. said...

I think I am in touch with my emotions. At least, I can say that I am in touch to a point. It's like parallel tracks, for me--I know that I have this whole emotional world that I live in, and everything that is part of it needs to be acknowledged, but at the same time, I know that I have a huge (and grave!) responsibility. I need to function in this world. I feel everything I feel, but I still have to go to work and give my boss completed projects and pay my rent. But that said, I will admit that I was really happy that my boss was home sick on the day that I got the acceptance phone call for PhD. Seriously. That's a time when emotion, or something that looks a lot like it, totally took over my need to function.

(And it's not that there was emotion because of the incident--getting into PhD--well, ok, maybe there was relief and excitement--but there was emotion of happiness and peace that I am still in touch with what i should be doing in the world, and it was holding hands and making googly-eyes with the excitement and relief of hearing from someone else "we think you write good shit, kiddo...you should come hang with us for the next five years...we'll be over here in Missouri...)

Surfergrrl said...

I'd like to think i am. even if i'm not behaving in a nice way, I recognize it and try to shift my behavior. I'd rather tackle things head on at the time then push my feelings down and have them fester.

~Virginia~ said...

good question. if someone's looking at me--my emotional response is pretty immediate since i have a horrible poker face. so people can usually tell what my reaction is before i ever even say anything. not always a good thing, but sometimes it saves me the trouble of finding the right words. :)

Patti said...

not only am i in touch with them, sometimes they reach back over and touch me as well.

~it tickles!~

Barrie said...

I think I used to be more in touch. Now, I'm too busy. Plus, I'm always trying to suss out where my kids are emotionally. So, by the time it gets to? I just want a cup of tea and a cookie. :)

ellesappelle said...

Hmm, I don't know... I think I am probably very aware of how I feel about things, but I don't exactly let that spill over into my dealings with just about anyone.

I'm not convinced that it's a good thing to be entirely in touch with yourself, too, or at least to share it with the world. Some of the most annoying people I know are incredibly self-analytical. :)

Vanessa said...

I would certainly say I am in touch with my emotions. I would also say I'm not overly excited with the emotions that crop up in my life on a repeated basis currently. To me, this is a strong signal for change. The relationship with my SO has needed to change for quite some time and as I move toward that change, the emotions are uneasy and worrisome at times. The way I look at it, emotions are a way of growing, a sort of internal barometer that can guide us in life. When the sad, unhappy, uneasy outnumbers the happy, joyous and free, to me that signals the need for soul searching and change.

(sorry for such a long comment. your post really hit home with me since the SO in particular refuses to feel ANY emotion of ANY kind. this is what is so strongly leading me toward change)

theneatos said...

This is a SUPER post! Thanks!

I pretty much channel "Positive Polly" 95% of the time ... but ... if "Hateful Holly" tries to poke her head into my business on a questionable day, I start to crack. And if I do not show her the door quick enough? Blech! I compound every single solitary thing that has crossed my mind in the last decade and then carry it around under my arm, trying to tell everyone around me that I am just "fine". The worst part is when I see it happen and don't try to tell Holly that no one is home right now ...

Ello said...

Interesting post. I always thought being in touch of your emotions was one of those new agey type weird things to say. I don't get it. When I'm mad, I'm mad, when I'm happy I'm happy and all the stuff in between. Why do I have to be in touch with them?

Erica said...

Only Saturday I would have given you an unqualified 'yes' and gone on to tell you that with me what you see is what you get.
But I had an encounter with a friend on Sunday night where she related something that happened to her. We chatted about it, nothing too heavy. Then I got home and I felt weird. So I decided to check in and soon was leaking all over myself and doubting all sorts of commitments I'd made recently...all over something that didn't even happen to me. (And she's not even that upset about it anymore!)
So I'll still say yes, but sometimes they sneak up on me...

Darlene said...

Sometimes too much in touch :)

I always get an inner chuckle when a man uses verbage like that...I think it is so healthy and it gives me hope that our world is changing, even if it's moving slowly and competing with football ;)

warm hugs,
xox d

Rachel said...

I don't think that I'm in touch with my emotions...I cry sometimes, but when I do, I usually don't even understand why I'm crying.

Chelsea Talks Smack said...

I think I am definitely in touch with my emotions. Being an artistic person, when I'm not in touch with my emotions it shuts down the whole side of me which is music, writing, singing, and creating- so when my emotions are OFF my whole LIFE is off, since those things define who I am at this time in my life...

Sometimes I wish I didnt react IMMEDIATELY to my emotions though and that I'd let them settle a bit...

kim said...

"Now, I'm not completely shut down. If I hear the song "If You're Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands," I can decide pretty quickly whether or not I should clap."

I read this yesterday and it's been making me chuckle throughout the day today.

LEstes65 said...

Oh you already know my answer. I'm so in touch with my emotions, they're filing a law suit! It's one reason I blog. To get them out of my head.

You're so right when you say that, if I purely followed my emotions during a tough spot...oh say...2007? I would have gone down a very bad path. Fortunately, I threw myself at God and then allowed myself to feel every single emotion as fully as possible but with him keeping me in check. Mostly he did that my putting wonderful people like you in my life.

God rocks.

And you are more in touch with your emotions than you think. How else could you deal with someone like me?