I was having a talk with my CPE supervisor about the very real difficulty people have talking about their affective (emotional) selves – especially in the traumatic events people go through at the hospital. We often do not have a proper language with which to talk about what is going on inside us. This becomes very apparent when we experience the death of a loved one, a traumatic accident, or a debilitating illness. Things happen within us that we are often unable to describe. We start getting at them by using words like sadness, frustration, anger, fear, hopelessness, etc.
I have noticed this is a problem that is particularly acute in men (including myself). There is little forum for men to really learn how to build or use a language of communicating their affective states. This is particularly acute in people that are very intellectual or try to ‘think’ their way through their emotions and not ‘live’ through them. He saw this pattern and said something that I’ve been spending some time pondering: “The real challenge for you is going to be learning how to think with your heart and feel with your head.”