If you ask anyone who knows me, they'd agree that I'm not an emotional guy. Don't get me wrong: I have my emotions, but I tend to keep them inside and lock them away rather than letting them out or confronting them.
But over time, writing has forced me to become a more emotional person. Or, at the very least, it has forced me to confront emotions rather than running away from them.
In order for my characters to be realistic, they have to have the same emotions and feelings that normal people have. That means that I have to think about what "normal" is, and use the emotions that I feel--and that others feel--to make them deeper characters.
This means that I have to plumb my emotional depths to see what makes me tick. Why do I get angry when X happens? Why does X make me happy? Why do I react X way in X situation? What is it about X that makes me react X way, instead of X?
But it's more than just that…
Everyone reacts with emotion, no matter how much they like to think that they are ruled by logic. I may be the "hero" of my own story, but the things I do and say are going to cause reactions in my "supporting characters". As the "hero", I have to try to understand what's going on with my "supporting characters", understand what makes them tick, and why they are reacting a certain way.
That means getting into the deeper emotions of the characters in my books as well. To avoid making them two-dimensional, I have to think about what's really motivating them, driving them, and goading them to do the things they are doing. That also involves the emotions that they are feeling--both at the moment of their encounter with the "hero" and in general.
This has forced me to confront emotions more--both in myself, and in others. When my children get angry or frustrated, instead of telling them to "stop crying", I force myself to think about the emotion behind their crying. I examine the situation, think about how they could be feeling, and try to understand what's going on.
In the last year or so of writing, I feel like I've made HUGE strides of progress emotionally. I cried for the first time in over a decade, I've opened up more to those around me, and I've made good friends. I am more patient with my children and spouse, and less hasty to over-react in situations. I still have a long way to go, but because I'm accustomed to reading into emotions and reactions, I have an easier time in these situations.