Monday, April 25, 2011

Fake Smiles, Real Tears - Gaming Emotions

You will slip up every once in a while,
people ask what’s wrong,
so you give them that fake smile,
and they just move along. 
Fake it until you make it.~ Steven Tyler
What does Gaming Emotions mean ? If I choose to strategically hide or display my emotions like the way a poker player hides his or her emotions to not reveal his hand, I am indulging in the practice of "Gaming Emotions". To put it more succinctly, I am playing the game of emotions to win. Over the years I was told that women were more emotional than men, and when it came down to display of emotions like crying or hugging, as I sit back and introspect the rational part of my brain suggests that they were clever strategic moves. But does that mean men don't do the same? Yes! they also do but the only inhibiting factor is the social norm about men. They can laugh, mock, appreciate, but expressing inner feelings may still be a pseudo-macho thing. Lets take the case of buying a house. To make the deal go my way I will raise my voice to express unhappiness over the unfavorable price, or might show the lack of financial backing due to family commitments and thereby play the game of faking emotions. The only problem with the practice of gaming emotions is that it is tried by too many people, too many times and it results in a disconnect between actually felt emotions and expressed emotions. We all want to win in life, get things our way and a part of the strategy is to use emotions to our advantage. It sometimes goes too far. When such a disconnect occurs, we are in a state of emotional labor. It mentally fatigues our brain because it is deliberately made to suppress our true emotions and show the strategically favorable emotions. So if things are not well between a husband and wife, going to a social gathering is the worst thing they can do. To show that "all is well" between them, they'll push themselves into emotional labor, which will further deteriorate their already troubled emotional life. Gaming emotions is also an art. People like me find it hard to fake it. It simply shows and we are caught. So after a series of crashes on this front, I prefer staying indoors rather than making a fool of myself. If you think you've mastered the art, maybe you're the right sales guy, manager or the leader. A high emotional quotient makes a good leader. Although the concept is different from emotional gaming, working on controlling your emotions (although not advisable) can give you social success. For the socially inept souls like me (perhaps), you can try using the more socially acceptable forms of creative expression like blogging, poetry or music.