Emotional Paralysis

Wall of ExcitementOne of the issues I struggle with is something I call “Socially Onset Emotional Paralysis.”  At first I thought I was the only one with this problem, but I’ve found in talking to others, that this is more common than I originally thought.   Emotional Paralysis  occurs most often in introverted people and many people also link it to depression, but I believe anyone can have this “condition.”

There are many different ideas about emotional paralysis and how to define it; however, it is most commonly associated with the inability to form or express one’s emotions.  It is linked to depression because depressed people often have trouble showing or feeling emotion.  Socially Onset Emotional Paralysis (we can call it S.O.E.P) is similar to this, but refers to a more specific disposition.

A person with SOEP will tend to “shut down” emotionally when around certain people or people in general, depending on the severity of the case.  For example, you may be meeting a friend you enjoy talking to a lot, but instead of greeting the friend enthusiastically, you tone down your emotions and greet her as you would anyone else.  This might be because you fear the person will think you are overbearing if you are more excited to see her, or perhaps because you don’t believe you are justified in thinking so highly of her.  Whatever the case may be, you hold back your true emotions.

It can be argued that everyone is this way to some extent.  Everyone will censor themselves in certain situations due to societal norms, their interpretation of the situation, the people they are with, or various other reasons.  However, when I talk about SOEP, I am referring to a more extreme limiting of emotions that is conscious, but overwhelming.  In other words, the person is aware that he/she is more enthusiastic than he/she lets on, but it would be extremely difficult for the person to react in an unrestrained fashion.

The reason I bring this up is because, as I said, I suffer from SOEP and it can make talking to people, especially people I am attracted to, quite frustrating.  I often want to express more enthusiasm, to show that I am interested in the person I am talking to.  However, as the condition’s name suggests, I tend to feel paralyzed, unable to motivate my own actions.  As a result, I sometimes come across as uninterested in the people I am with.  My friends occasionally ask me if I am bored when I actually couldn’t be happier spending time with them.

Today I ran into “Samira” for the first time in a while.  I was extremely excited to see her again, but I was unable to bring myself to say anything along these lines.  She apologized once again for being unable to attend my show (which went well, by the way), and let me know what she had been up to.  Today, more than ever I have gotten the sense that she is interested in me; however, I couldn’t even bring myself to ask her if she was free to do anything the following week.  I don’t think I came across as uninterested, but I would have liked to have expressed my excitement in seeing her.

Lately, I have not seen much of Samira, partly because both of us have been busy with other things, but also because our paths don’t tend to cross often.  I feel as though I always make promises to say certain things or take certain actions, but without these statements of resolve, I think I am more likely to let my SOEP take over.  Next time I see or talk to Samira, I’ll be sure to make a point of setting up when we will see each other next, even if it will be a while from now, when we are both less bogged down with work.

I feel as if I am so close to reaching my goal, but small technicalities keep standing in my way.  This is not the first time I have felt this way, in fact, I often experience this.  I have mentioned how nothing ever seems to work out as planned when it comes to my love-life, but I am determined not to let this get in my way this time.

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December 12, 2009  Author: Street Saint  Tags: , , , ,   Posted in: Goals, Life Partner, Philosophy/Psychology

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