There was a young boy who had lost his father and was the only child of his mother. Naturally, the mother was very affectionate towards her son. Unfortunately, the mother also died, so the care of the boy was entrusted to his maternal aunty. This lady was childless and was, therefore, considered a very appropriate choice.
This lady, however, looked after the boy rather too well. She forgot to discipline him in her attempt to show to the world how affectionate she was to the unfortunate child. Minus discipline, the boy developed many bad habits. Complaints began to pore in, but the lady remained indulgent towards her charge. Situation went from bad to worse and the boy, now grown up, committed a murder.
Arrested and charged, he faced a death penalty. The judge wished to know if the boy had something to say in his defence. The boy nodded and desired that he would do so in her aunty’s ear. The aunty was summoned and she went eagerly up to the boy. The boy pretended to speak into her ear but actually bit her ear.
Being unfortunate, the boy did need emotional support but what was provided was an emotional disaster. Emotions are important for our well-being but one needs to know what emotions are useful ; to which extent they are desirable ; who deserves to be recipient for such emotions ; when should we express them ; etc.
Good emotions are : Being grateful, being compassionate, trusting, loving, kindness, mercifulness, sharing, helping, thanking, appreciating, accepting others as they are, feeling obliged towards others, etc. Bad emotions are : Hate, envy, enmity, distrust, anger, jealousy, exploitation of others, pride, fears, anxieties, etc. It is not that we need to express only good emotions, but we also need to express the negative ones like shock at someone’s bad behaviour, failing which we may similarly end up as the ear-bitten aunty. Expressing ourselves properly is not an option but a necessity for harmonious social living.
The next question is how much expression of emotion is desirable. The golden rule is to err on the right side, that is when expressing good sentiments, go a little more and while expressing sentiments of the negative kinds, pull back a little. But most of us are guilty of excessive sentimentality, which is due to many reasons. Generally, excessive sentimentality indicates heavy attachment, mostly of the wrong kind. All of us have entered this world alone and are likely to go away alone. Being excessively emotionally attached to anyone can be a recipe for dependency, fear and heart-breaks.
Excessive sentimentality may also be due to a desire to ride piggy-back on someone else and thus trying to avoid making efforts on one’s own, which is, being lazy. May be the feelings are not really genuine since too much sentimentality, like too much loyalty, is always suspect. One may even try to cheat others in the garb of sentimentality. This may also be a way as not to apply one’s own mind and just depend upon someone else.
Therefore, there should always be a right balance in expressing one’s sentiments. Distinction should be made between appropriate sentiments and excessive sentiments of both kinds, good or bad. There has to be a right balance between emotions and realism. Heart is where emotion is centered, but the intelligence should always be superior. Anyone who is delinked from reality is likely to live in a fool’s paradise. One should never become impractical in the matter of one’s emotions because that is hardly likely to help in the long run.
But there is one person towards whom we can safely express all the pent up, or otherwise emotions we may have. That person is God. Experience tells that emotions expressed towards God like thanks, prayers, gratefulness, shelter-seeking, etc bring benefits. Such emotions are healthy, safe and useful. Again, in being emotional towards God also, one needs to be in touch of reality. Being emotional towards God is great, but God expects us to be suitably active as per His directions. Emotions, not backed by some action, may give only a false sense of security.
We must also express our sentiments towards others, since we need others, to exist well in any society ; one must learn to express proper sentiments at the appropriate time. Normally, we are quick to point out faults in others, but are very reluctant to appreciate. This habit needs reversing ; one should give oneself a little more time in expressing the emotions of the bad kind and be anxious to express the right kinds.
Emotional maturity is essential for healthy living, EQ, that is Emotional Quotient, is more important than IQ. One must always remember that wrong emotions expressed badly set us backwards, and the proper emotions expressed rightly help us in making progress in life. Without emotion, one is like a stone but too much emotion, especially of the wrong kind, makes one a sitting duck.