Because of the artificial gender division of our culture assigned reason to men and emotion to women, men tend to be novices in distinguishing the repertoire of their own emotions.
- Construct a chart of your own emotional landscape. Imagine you are a scientist observing your life from afar. Begin by making an hour-by-hour chart of the range of emotions you experience and express on an average day. What do you feel like when you wake up? Do you anticipate the day with a feeling of excitement, or dread? Do your dreams leave you with an aftermath of fear, arousal, anxiety, a feeling of flying free? What emotions dominated your workday? Frustration? Satisfaction? Resentment? Numbness? Creative joy? Boredom? Fatigue? Self-forgetful concentration on solving a problem? What do you feel when you go home? Loneliness? Relief? Contentment? What emotions come into play in your relationship with your significant others — family, lover, main squeeze? If you were writing your autobiography (as you should to recollect your lost and strayed memories) how would you characterize the emotional climate of different periods of your life? What emotions were dominant, which were missing? Were you chronically resentful, angry, numb, sad, etc?
- Practice expressing rather than repressing your feelings. Once you have a chart of the bright and dim colors in your emotional range, habitual and tabooed feelings, you may be able to expand your repertoire by practice. To be fully alive we need the full palate of colors, from dark despair to the blues in the night, the gray in-betweens, the soaring sky blue, the red of passion, and the gold of triumph. Make a habit of identifying your feelings and expressing them in some appropriate way. The great value of a long-term intimate relationship is that it provides a companion with whom we can share the kaleidoscope of our feelings.