Why do people so often want to hide their emotions? So many phrases around this statement come to the surface for me, the term poker face being one of them. I understand the concept ( of keeping that poker face) when you really are playing the card game, and yet we equate our emotions to cards that we just don’t want people to see. Is it really so bad to show your hand? I’ve been told so often growing up, not to, that the idea became sort of ingrained in me. What I notice in the game of poker is, when you fold, even if you were bluffing no one gets to see the cards you held. Funny how we want to bluff in real life, and keep those emotions private.
I see such a correlation in the real life games we tend to play with one another where our emotions are concerned. I see how people can guard their emotions with such intensity; hide them at all costs. I see relationships end or never get started because of the strong belief that showing emotions is wrong or somehow bad, and I’m not just talking about holding back from throwing a fit of anger or showing sadness, I’m talking about holding back also from showing the other person you care, that you’re interested, that they made you smile. It’s back to that old belief of “don’t show your hand to the other player” The advertising world tapped into this belief with the old campaign: “Never let them see you sweat!” and didn’t the song Poker Face top the charts? To me, this really sheds some awareness and some light about a very strong belief as a society in regards to EMOTIONS.
Do you ever treat your emotions like a poker game? I know I have, and I have come to know that the reason I did so was at it’s core due to FEAR. I learned to be afraid, I learned by experience. I learned that there were consequences if i showed my emotions like anger or sadness without holding back. People didn’t like it, and they didn’t approve of me, and that disapproval did not feel good. Did you ever take a fit in a toy store as a child? Have you ever been told that if you continued to cry then your parents would give you something to cry over? As a parent, have you ever said or experienced this with your own child?
I was taught that I had to have control over my emotions. I was told that you just cant just say what you want to when you want to. School was my teaching ground for this, and so were my parents. Weren’t we all taught in some way that control over emotions is an important quality? Isn’t this what society expects from children, and then later on as adults. I really want to pose the question: Is it really beneficial that we always control emotions?
I see how we carry a subtle attitude about emotions into many adult situations. Emotions and the workplace? Isn’t that a huge no-no? I have heard so many times that we are here to work, and not talk about emotions! What is so ironic is that emotions or lack of at least addressing the emotions is what gets in the way of productive work in so many cases. If there is friction between employees and bosses, or employees and each other, no doubt some type of emotion was sparked. People however, tend to focus on the action, what the other person did or said and then the finger pointing and blame begins. The belief is, it is wrong to let your emotions get the best of you at work, it is wrong to show that you are mad or sad, and so if someone sparks either feeling in you by something they do, well then they should just stop doing it! The other alternative is to beat yourself up if you do let your emotions show. This alternative was something I, as a working woman tended to do. I had that strong belief, as many women do, that I had to be fearless at work, and NOT get upset. Emotions truly had no place at work. Not for a woman! If I wanted to be successful I had to be one of the boys! I found that it this did not work too well for me. My point being, that if we as a society were more tolerant and understanding of emotions would the situation even happen at all?
I’m writing from a woman’s perspective, but I am pretty sure that the subject of emotions is just as difficult for men. Little boys are taught not to show their emotions, and I see grown men, if they are “too sensitive” have their masculinity questioned by society. Being tough if valued and yet I know that there have been many times that I have loved and appreciated a man’s sensitivity. Their vulnerability made me feel closer to them, not their ability to hold back their emotions.
There came a point in my life when simply wanted to be more of my “authentic” self. In other words, I just wanted to speak my truth and no longer pretend I was happy when I wasn’t. All of this pretending or holding back anything felt like compromise to me. I started to become more aware of what was going on in and around me. I started to become more aware of my own emotions, and as I accepted more and more of what I felt it was the opening of a whole new world for me. It’s been a journey and discovery I want to share more and more.