I do not like to talk about feelings and have two very good reasons for why. Feelings are inconsistent. I like things to be relatively predictable and well structured – feelings are not that! Feelings are subjective, they’re not concrete, there is no real ultimate truth in them. Two people can be in the same situation and come out feeling very differently.
Truth be told, I am scared to talk about feelings. Talking to another person about one’s feelings necessarily means opening one’s heart and mind to another and letting them in. It makes one vulnerable and leaves room for rejection.
But that’s me. What about you?
Do you like sharing what your true feelings are? Can you admit it when you are angry or sad or so happy you could fly to the moon and back? Do you get terrified at the question: “How do you feel?”
Describing people as “emotional” assumes that there are people who are not emotional. I think that is misleading. We are all emotional but some people express their emotions more easily, whereas others cannot or will not. Human beings are emotional beings, we just express things differently.
Tonight, as much as I dread doing it, I want to talk about feelings. I have made up a scale. Imagine a horizontal line running across a page. The extreme left hand side of the line is labelled “Stuffers” and the extreme right says “Exploders”. I want to propose that when it comes to the way we process or express our feelings, each of us falls closer to one end of the spectrum than the other.
Here are my thoughts on what each of these means, try and locate yourself and your friends on the scale, this will be fun:
The Exploders (Fire)
The name says it all. Exploders love talking about feelings. Their faces say it all. They are the oversharers on Facebook and Twitter. They leave no one in any doubt about what makes them angry and when they are sad they walk around with a massive cloud hanging over their heads. Cumulonimbus. Exploders are easily provoked and difficult to reason with in a disagreement. Arguments with them always escalate at an alarming rate and often end with them in a pile of tears or stomping off and slamming the door in your face. A particularly dangerous exploder might even resort to slapping, biting and flinging crockery around the room. I think you get the picture.
You always know where you stand with exploders – they make sure of it! They have no difficulty in letting you know what their true feelings are and will communicate them to you. Exploders tend to find vulnerability with people easy and this makes them easier to connect to on a personal level. An exploder will generously pour out their affection on people they love and will be extravagant in the way that they express it. Exploders do not struggle to access their emotions and are often described as ‘passionate’.
If you are close to the exploder side of the scale then there are a few things you need to watch out for. Firstly, expressing your feelings easily is not the same as expressing them healthily. This is particularly important when it comes to expressing anger. Like a bomb going off, when exploders get angry there is always collateral damage, be aware of this. Consider the effect of your expression on other people, don’t be selfish and fight fair! Secondly, don’t make your feelings king. Realise that your feelings are not a perfect representation of reality – just because you feel rejected does not mean that you actually are rejected. Also, your feelings are not a perfect moral compass, something that ‘feels right’ can be very wrong! Remember, fire brings warmth and light but if let loose and uncontrolled, it can destroy everything in its path.
The Stuffers (Ice)
If you are a stuffer people will probably describe you as quiet / shy / stuck in your own world. This is not always the case though, there are some loud and outgoing stuffers out there! Unlike exploders who will always express their feelings outwardly, stuffers will usually internalize them. Stuffers appear cool under pressure and sometimes even seem cold. The reality is that stuffers have a backlog of unprocessed or unexpressed feelings stuffed down on the inside. It is not that they do not feel anything, it’s just that they for some reason, they would rather keep what they feel to themselves.
Many stuffers really care about other people and their selflessness is sometimes one of the reasons why they stuff their feelings down. They think about other people’s feelings before their own. They are good listeners and will think before they speak. Stuffers are also often very stable and consistent in relationship, they are not as temperamental or moody as their exploder counterparts.
If you are closer to the stuffer side of the scale then the first thing you have to realise is that you cannot stuff down your feelings forever, you will eventually explode. And it will not look pretty. Eventually, the anger, grief and offense you have been stuffing will have to be released. Your positive emotions need to be expressed along with your negative ones! Stuffers need to learn that emotions are not evil and that there is a healthy way of expressing them. Secondly, stuffers need to understand the importance of emotional vulnerability in a relationship. The ability to know what you are feeling and to express it to people will make you seem more human and less like a block of cold, hard ice.
Are you more of an exploder or a stuffer? I look forward to hearing your thoughts!
Thanks for reading.