Self-Expression vs Emotional Mastery: Introduction

This post is a Cliff notes, Seth Goden version of a series of posts I am planning on writing. An amuse bouclé, if you will.

Reactive, Extraverted Types
Some of my friends are very charismatic, social, and expressive individuals. You say the wrong thing to them, they immediately get angry. Compliment them, and you’ll get an immediate smile. They are risk takers and opt for action over planning/thought. Sometimes, you may wish that they think before they speak. At the extremes, they might be described as extraverted, sensory, emotional, and spontaneous.

Responsive, Introverted Types
Others, including myself, are more reserved, calm, and thoughtful individuals. It can be hard to decode what we are thinking or how we feel. Often times, I say, “Interesting…” both when I’m annoyed and genuinely interested. We plan and think over things constantly before we begin acting. Some times, their constant planning and judging gets in the way of just living life and having fun. You could describe them as introverted, judging, and thinking based.

In worse case scenarios, the reactive, expressive group is easily manipulated and has no mental or emotional control over themselves. They’re neurotic, self-absorbed, and care only about pleasure. On the other side, the calm, reserved type never enjoys life, can’t ever emotionally connect with another human being, and look down on the mob with an elitist arrogance.

Of course, like all things in life, this is not a neat, Manichean dualism. The best leaders, teachers, and masters are fluent in self-expression, spontaneity, emotional/mental mastery, and thoughtfulness.

The challenge, I believe, is figuring out if you have a deficiency on one side and how to balance yourself out according to the situation.

My History
As a teenager, I pushed my emotions and desires away in a subconscious, locked vault. I become “contemplative” but melancholy. It had its benefits. When I had a horrible food poisoning incident in a study abroad in China, everyone commented later that they admired how well I went through the ordeal. Of course, the truth was I didn’t even have the energy to have self-pity, but that’s beside the point. As I transitioned from child to young adult, I began shutting away my emotions and didn’t let anyone in. It still takes a long time for any new friends to really get to my core “me”. It’s hard for me to be spontaneous, open, and self-expressive.

The two sides complement each other. I thin everyone starts off as a child as a reactive, animal monster. Socialization and education is necessary and good to become more responsive and thoughtful. Education should and does make people into critical, independent thinkers. However, it can go into the excess like myself of being completely shut away, detached and aloof from the world.

Of course, there are those who never learned how to control their thoughts or emotions. They assume that whatever they feel is who they are. And, for them, a different path would benefit them. All about the context.

More to Come


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