The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Girls don’t cry, boys aren’t angry

Expressing feelings often isn’t welcome, especially in organizations.

Then there are also feelings which seem to be “not the right ones”. Expressing sadness, for example, could be perceived as being weak, while expressing anger could lead to being seen as a troublemaker. In some countries, that is what culture teaches us to assess as proper behavior.

May it be the culture in organizations, in a country or in a family, we learn to adapt to it. Our need to belong and our fear to be rejected help us learn how to behave in an acceptable way.

What this doesn’t change is the fact that we react to situations. Whenever our needs have been satisfied or not satisfied, our body will somehow react to it. These psycho-physiological reactions are unavoidable.

Whatever our culture teaches us, can only be integrated after the given bodily reactions. As remaining in the group is important, we do a good job of it and cover up the original emotion with a new one. The one which seems adequate in that situation. We are so good at covering up the original emotion, that we might have to dig in to realize that it was there.

One way to distinguish between the original or authentic emotion and the cover-up emotion is to observe its appearance.

Authentic emotions come and go like a wave. Expressing them or acting appropriately on them will mostly resolve the emotion until it disappears. This isn’t the case for cover up emotions which remain and don’t really fade away. Ruminating, for example, happens as a consequence of cover up emotions.

On the recipient side, authentic emotions often lead to compassion. Which is more rarely the case with cover up emotions. In fact, we can assume, that cover up emotions explain why organizations don’t welcome emotions. As they don’t contribute to solving issues and moving forward they don’t help. The drawback being, that authentic emotions which help to solve issues and allow for more respective appreciation also disappeared.


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