So I took a Mental Health Quality of Life assessment. It was somewhat illuminating in that I could see a connection between failure in one area with failure in another.
The connection I noticed was between my emotional passivity--i.e. inability to express myself freely--and my general anxiety/depressiveness.
This connection wasn't readily apparent. Rather, it was kind of shocking to see such poor scores in certain areas. So I brooded over dinner so see if there was a problem with my approach.
On the drive back home from dinner it dawned on me that I spend a lot of energy trying to make myself feel a certain way. There is this hovering, "I should feel this" or a self-questioning, "why do I react/feel this way?!"
Then, in looking at my social interactions, I notice that there's always this background process that's deviating from the current connection. I'm calculating, or analyzing, or worrying, or thinking somehow what's going on is not authentic or inaccurate.
Nobody has ever accused me of being fake. Unfortunately, though, "fake" is not a good measure. People only accuse people of being fake when someone goes out of their way to flatter. Nonetheless, I still think that I've spent a lot of my life acting inauthentically around people.
People implicitly confirm this through their misinterpretations of my behavior or attitude. A lot of people think I'm fine all the time, or that I'm secure around them, or that I like them. When they tell me these things, sometimes, in the back of my mind, I wonder, "jeez, they can't even tell that I'm uncomfortable around them or that I'm anxious all the time, they must be clueless."
I have a poker face, my face has no wrinkles that indicate I feel anything. The only expressions I really show are laughs that get wrenched out of me or a wicked smile when I'm feeling naughty.
So one way to undo this is to really just get into the habit of bringing my current emotions to the forefront. To not repress anything, nor to try to mold your emotions directly. Use my emotions primarily as a thermometer, and not as a tool for expediency.
Speaking of expediency, trying hard to succeed hinders emotional intelligence. When I used to pick goals and run after them, I'd have to constantly fight myself. I'd have to whip my emotions together for crunch time; No slacking and no whining. Unfortunately, I think that educated me more on how to be successful at projects and less on how to be successful at living.
There are certain ways to get in touch w/ your emotions. One is first by eliminating the habit of forcing emotions on you that you don't already feel naturally.
Another is through exercises, such as trying to dredge whatever's into your heart and put it onto your face. Personally, this exercise is illuminating. I get surprised by some of the feelings lurking inside of me. I discover so many contradictions between what's on the inside and what's on the outside.
I developed this method before, and it was useful in times of distress. The original theory behind it was that the emotional self is programmed for self-regulation. So if I could just bring it out, I could coast. If I found myself in a confused web or stricken with dilemmas, I could then let my emotions spit themselves out. This process would nullify their black hole-like gravity. It's like half the problem becomes solved once you're aware of it.
Anyways, so I'm going to pull this "sync with your emotions" tool out of the toolshed, operate on Phil 2.0, and see if I can make any progress. I want my score on this Mental Health Quality of Life assessment to improve, dammit!