10 11 / 2012
I had a really interesting conversation with one of my friends recently about emotions in Botswana. People here do not show their emotions, and get very uncomfortable when I do. However, I’m a crier, I can’t help that. I cry at commercials, everything, I wear my emotions on my sleeve - it’s just part of who I am.
When I was talking to my Motswana friend about this, she said something like, “but you choose to have those emotions. We choose not to.”
I’ve never thought of emotions as a choice. Things happen, and I react, I get sad or angry or whatever. The choice part comes next, I can choose to express my anger through yelling, or I can choose to leave the room and count to ten, and call a friend to talk about what I’m feeling.
It’s so interesting to me that people could think you chose to be sad or angry or happy etc. I think of emotions like reflexes, you can’t deny that you have them, and you can’t control them. You can be an emotionally healthy person by dealing with them constructively. But people here don’t believe that, they think that emotions are something you choose to do as in, she chose to cry at her husband’s funeral when she should have chosen to keep a straight face.
It’s one of the cultural differences I just can’t wrap my head around, but fascinating nonetheless.