Thoughts vs. Emotions

I recently started a relationship with someone who is very much a ‘feeler’ rather than a ‘thinker’. It took me a few heated, drama-filled arguments with my new partner to figure out why we kept going around in circles, both seemingly unable to comprehend the other person’s point of view.

This opened up a new chapter of learning and introspection for me. I’ve known for the better part of my adulthood that while I have a fiery temper, a deep appreciation for sarcasm and unabashed directness in communication, I am quite stunted when it comes to conveying emotions that fall within the ‘vulnerable’ category. Anger, frustration, disappointment are feelings I have no problem in conveying in abundance because to me they fall within the ‘strength’ category of emotions. I’ve mastered the skill of unloading every ounce of unspoken disappointment or irritation with a sideway glance. However, when it comes to demonstrating emotions like love, care, encouragement, sympathy, sadness and fear I am as awkward as an upside down turtle.

Even when it comes to feeling these emotions, it feels muted and diluted. When I’m angry or frustrated, I can feel it in every fibre of my being, but when it comes to love it’s sporadic, unexpected and inconsistent. Even when it’s not “love”, simply showing sustained affection or paying attention to someone, is at times, difficult for me. It’s almost as if I have a quota of affection and attention for each day, and once that quote is reached, I need to emotionally shut down and shut people out in order to recharge.

This has obviously caused various misunderstandings in my new relationship, because my partner is the opposite and has emotions in abundance and for sustained periods of time…so sustained that it seems unending. I know if I wanted to talk to him for hours on end or spend time with him every day, he would be emotionally ready and available to do that, whereas I balk at the idea. There have been multiple times where he has questioned my feelings for him because sometimes he feels like I don’t want him. Me being the ‘thinker’ that I am then posed this question in response to his doubts: “If I didn’t want you or want to be with you, why would I be in a relationship with you and make time to see you?”.

Whereas he is ruled by his feelings, I am ruled by my thoughts and logic. To me, feelings are not governed by logic, and actions and words that are fuelled by feelings are even less logical. For me, my brain and my thoughts are the stronger force. Within me, my brain is the adult and my heart can be likened to a 5yr old child. When I am heartbroken, it is my brain that wraps around my broken heart, picks it up off the floor and slowly carries it forward and away from the source of the pain.

Another thing I’ve come to realise is that while it takes barely any effort for me to think and articulate my thoughts, the effort it takes for me to convey my emotions to the outside world is monumental. Recently, I was in a very stressful situation at work for a whole week. I was so stressed that I felt like my mind would snap. However, I expressed none of this outwardly. My partner and one of my close friends at work didn’t even notice anything was wrong or different for an entire week, while inside I was mentally screaming for 7 whole days. When I told them what had happened at work and how stressed I’d been after the 7 days, both of them (both feelers) were astonished that I had hidden it so well and for so long.

I think all of this comes down to two things:

  1. I fear emotion because it’s not logical and it cannot be controlled or reasoned with and while emotions do encompass joy and happiness, it also encompasses sadness and hurt.
  2. Showing emotion means showing vulnerability, which is not something I am accustomed to or comfortable with (and yes I have listened to Brene Brown, but that doesn’t make being vulnerable any easier).

At least I’ve come to these realisations. Now that I know all of this, at least I can be more self aware and try to work on my emotional capabilities.