Yet another What You See is NOT What You Get post! Yay!
This one is about emoting. In this case, when I say ’emote’ what I mean is ‘to display or show emotion in some way.’ Some basic examples would be smiling, laughing, frowning, crying, etc. The things we do that let other people know what it is we’re feeling, without using words.
I’ve noticed that people seem to have this idea that the amount a person emotes correlates to the amount a person is feeling, and that they can use the same basic gauge for everyone. Neither of these beliefs are true.
I do not generally emote very strongly. While my feelings do show, they show in a quieter, more subdued way than for most people out there. However, I do feel. I feel very deeply. I’m downright sensitive. However, if a person were to assume that the amount I emote indicates the amount I feel, they would believe that I feel very little. This is a dangerous assumption. It is especially dangerous with people who lack the words to explicitly say what they are feeling, such as children or non-verbal autistics.
I also know people who emote very strongly. I have gathered that sometimes people will tell them that their emotions are disproportionate. This is baffling to me on at least two different levels.
1. It is completely inappropriate to tell another person that their feelings are wrong in any way. This particular social skill seems to be sufficiently unknown that I am beginning to think it should be introduced as part of elementary school curriculum.
2. How do you know just how much they are feeling? All we know is how much a person emotes. However, I know that for me, it is not at all safe to judge my emotional level simply from the degree to which I am emoting. Nor am I willing to say that any other person *feels* more than I do, simply because they express more than I do. As such, I believe that it is *never* safe to assume we know how much someone feels, simply due to how much it’s showing. At most, we might be able to get an idea of how close to the surface their emotions sit. Maybe. Even that is iffy.
I know that seeing what a person is emoting is often our only clue to what they are feeling. I know that people, for whatever reason, rarely simply say “I am feeling x.” However, I think we need to stick to simply letting a person’s actions inform us of what they are feeling, and stop trying to measure them against some sort of universal yardstick. Beyond that, it’s all about getting to know people as individuals, and accepting that there are some things that we simply cannot know. Ultimately, the only possible way I can know if someone is feeling a lot or a little is if they tell me. The fact of a person laughing a whole lot or not very much, though, really tells me very little.