Emotions, Work, Love and Friends

There are emotions and feelings and then there is your behavior. It is the primary component of maturity. Maturity is the understanding that just because you feel one way does not mean you have to demonstrate and express to all, how you feel and what you think.

In many working environments, most emotions need to be shelved and evaluated later. Productivity can be badly impacted by someone who is constantly expressing emotional reactions to the people and events in their work place. Sometimes it is productive to discuss an emotional reaction, privately, with someone at work but not usually.  I’m not religious but I find the rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” very useful and pragmatic. Perceptive people will pick-up the example and run with it, others won’t. Then you must decide whether a conversation would be useful or not. I think it depends a lot upon how likeable and non-threatening you are. You never want to threaten anyone at work – not if you want to be successful in your career or keep working.  It is a manager’s job to find solutions when someone is being disruptive. It’s a tough job and very few managers are able to do it gracefully. People who are disruptive are usually out of a job one way or another.  They are shut out of working groups, they are moved around to other departments or tasks and are generally isolated if possible. Disruptive people are often unhappy and quit before they are fired or laid-off.  A work associate may become a friend over time, but at work it is no one’s job to listen to you emote and listen to your opinions when they are not delivered in a dispassionate, productive manner with reciprocal, respectful listening, at appropriate times, on your part. Being emotional and demanding that everyone give you their attention too often is self-centered, immature, selfish, and disrespectful. If you have good ideas and want to be heard, you have to learn to sell your ideas – that requires taking the time to build trust and respect and it requires you to learn to express your ideas succinctly and convincingly so that your co-workers will see how your idea will benefit the entire workplace. This is the next step in maturity and it cannot be rushed. It takes time… years for most people.. unless they learned it from family or have been formally trained, (still, it took years.)  When I left the workplace and retired I had only just scratched the surface of being able to sell my own ideas. I did know how to keep my emotions to myself though – that’s about as far as I got. Hindsight is 20-20 eh?

In relationships it’s harder to decide how to manage strong feelings. I am not good at that part. I am able to disguise my emotions fairly well, but I don’t know how to express strong emotions well, at all. It’s not good for me, it’s a weakness and it makes me unhealthy. Part of this fault is that I also fear other people’s emotions.  I do know how to fight fairly though – no blame, no shame, no finger pointing; yes to sharing my own feelings and reactions, shame and fears; yes to acknowledging the other persons feelings; and yes to expressing hopes for good outcomes. I do not know how to overcome my fear of anger in other people.

Friends are people who you tell almost everything about yourself.  You do not tell things that would unnecessarily hurt, burden or create a dilemma for someone unless they need to know, need with a capital ‘N.’  Friends do not judge.  Friends will commiserate, comfort, and validate. Friends will give you the time and attention you need to vent when something is really upsetting or exciting, without interrupting, unless to validate. Friends will also be lovingly frank and give honest feedback, and will still love you even if their honesty upsets you. After spending time with friends, you almost always feel better; freed of your burdens for a while. After spending time with your friends you might have a fresh perspective on things, and you will usually have the energy to go back to your daily life and be okay for a while.

Friends cannot fix you, especially if you are really broken*,  but they can create a safe haven where you can be broken and still know that you are not being judged, but loved. It is absolutely possible to love someone back to health, under many circumstances; it’s not a guarantee, but I don’t think it’s possible to heal without at least little bit of love. The first stage of healing is to learn to love and forgive yourself.

If you have experienced emotional healing with the help of a friend or friends, you often, eventually, meet someone else for whom you want to do the same. It takes a lot of energy. It is a priceless gift, to love a friend. My friends are absolutely precious to me.

*Broken: Suffering long-term, deep and painful emotional distress, causing, your behavior. to a greater or lesser degree, to become uncontrollable, unpredictable, embarrassing, inappropriate and/or debilitating most of the time. A broken person may or may not be able to function somewhat normally for periods of time but not consistently and it is exhausting to do so.