Saturday, July 19, 2008

to think or to feel

According to the horological (some would say horror-logical) definitions of my temperament and personality....I am supposedly very logical and "have difficulty in expressing emotion".

That's funny!

Most of the time I am within a hairs' breadth of bursting into tears! The most insane things can set me off too, like today over a nice slow-food lunch at a local cafe, I read a simple line about love in a magazine and immediately teared up with the sentiment of it all! Not particularly logical I'd say!

I express emotion far too well in my humble opinion! It's not only annoying, it can be disgustingly embarrassing. There has to be nothing worse than tearing up at the drop of a hat in front of men too! Ugh! So demeaning!

But I do it a lot.

Being "in touch" with ones feelings is something I think women, in general, are pretty good at, most of the time. Although I do wonder in recent decades whether we have not become so busy that we've forgotten to slow down long enough to actually figure out where and why those emotional responses are coming from. They rise so impetuously from within and can take us by surprise, but we often just seem to react to them rather than stop and really FEEL them to their nexus.

Allowing emotion to simply be emotion and letting it express without analysis is probably my weakest weakness.

I guess that's what that 'horrorscope' (sic) is trying to tell me. Analysis Paralysis I think is the catchphrase! Over thinking stuff from a clinically objective perspective! I can do that a lot too it seems, as this blog will attest.

On the one hand, I can never figure out why it is I will cry at reality TV shows when they do house make-overs and in another instant remain resolutely and pragmatically philosophical when confronted with something INTENDED to elicit strong art or news stories etc.

My own emotional responses are an entirely flummoxing mystery to me.

Recently, I discovered I did indeed have VERY strong and visceral emotional responses. I experienced a strong reaction to a relationship issue that took me by complete and utter surprise. Now that is rather a weird be surprised - an emotional response - about an emotional response!

Which emotion was the "real" one I ask you?

Probably both of them I gather. It is rather astounding that the human being...or at the very, is capable of having more than one emotional aspect simultaneously. I always thought of emotional responses as being sort of linear in function. They are simply responses to external events or internal thought processes that occur in sequence in some kind of assessable "order".

Apparently not!

Emotions seem to be both dependent and independent of external factors and internal thinking!

Emotions...aka feelings seem to be able to rise unbidden, bidden, unsolicited, solicited, cajoled, uncajoled, apparently uncontrollably from "somewhere" inside this corporeal identity I walk around in! Most untidy really. I guess I do harbor aspirations to Vulcan coolness and logic after all!

I read this following quote today, by Augusten Burroughs, in an article from that same magazine I was talking about above:

"It's strange but we seem to need to try to make ourselves feel, stimulating ourselves to feel...something," he added. "Perhaps we're so busy we don't feel...we're not in touch with what we feel. Our divorce rate would imply that."

It got me thinking on this subject of feeling and/or thinking and how we go about the process of slowing down long enough to really feel what we are feeling to its conclusion; its nexus if you will. Getting down deep inside to discover an emotions core root and identifying and sorting it out so we can frame it into thought and deed.

Emotional responses seem to come from an entirely different place in the human psyche. I think from my layman's understanding of neuroscience, we humans do have very specific places within the brain where thoughts and feelings occur. Thinking is primarily taking place pretty much non-stop at the forefront of our brains...literally. Emotions occur in other parts of the brain, like a kind of strobe with different places in the brain lighting up and equating to differing feelings.

Thinking tends to be somewhat confined to a specific area of the brain while emotion tends to be all over the place. Any wonder emotions can be so hard to pin down and label effectively. But then again, our conscious thinking tends to do a LOT of filtering of these strobing emotional patterns and we develop habits of denying ourselves some quite legitimate, feelings while encouraging others, legit or otherwise! Behavioural science is only now, beginning to scratch the thin layers of human brain biology in this regard and its an incredibly fascinating subject too!

Emotions seem to be synergistic too. They give rise to thoughts while at the same time... perhaps instantaneously, our thoughts are giving rise to our emotions. I'm guessing this is why I can have two emotional responses at the same time, one in response to the other aka surprise because of feeling jealous etc.

We are told, and I've said it in this blog too, that we have choices about how we feel. Easier said than done of course. Feelings and emotions are about as difficult to control as wild horses! Still, I think we do need to slow down, give ourselves the space to breathe and really feel what we are feeling and not squelch or deny ourselves difficult and intense emotions simply because they're tedious and confronting. (Of course, it is always wise to take socially non-redeeming emotions to a nice safe and private place where other people can't be offended or delighted by them! Your call on that of course!)

This being said, I still have a great deal of work to do on accessing WHY I feel what I do when I do. Why is it that I cry so easily at the merely sentimental - which totally annoys me (there you go, that weird juxtaposition of two emotional responses one on top of the other again. One just felt, the other experienced as a result of thinking about the emotion just felt)? Or , why I don't always seem to feel strong emotional responses when I'm being "asked" to by someone or something else?

My other work is to learn how to simply allow my genuine, unbidden emotional responses their full weight and not belittle or demean them simply because they're uncomfortable. I want to learn how to feel things through to their natural core, to the trigger that inspired them, acknowledging that trigger in the frontal cortex of my thought mind and decide then what to do about it. I want to learn how to HAVE my emotions and respond to them intelligently and not willy-nilly without thinking so to speak!

Wisdom, I now believe is not so much what we know in our thoughts; it is how well we slow down to feel what we are feeling, identify why and then not over or under reacting with the results!

I have learned I can be jealous! To me, Jealousy and possessiveness are abhorrent emotions that deserve little brain space. But I do have these strong feelings on occasion and I have reacted outwardly...and very them. Now I want to find out what my triggers are. WHY do I feel jealous and when does it happen and what does it feel like to really FEEL jealous right down to its root, without inflicting the potentially damaging collateral onto other people?

Once I allow the feeling to be what it is unmodified by conscious thinking first, bringing that emotion full circle to its root cause and conclusion, I can THEN allow my logic build on the information and formulate better and much wiser behavioural responses. I hope I can anyway!

Basically, I need to slow down! I want to learn how to experience what I am feeling and let it reside there until it no longer does. I want to give time to my emotions and let them name themselves - rather than merely analyse them - and I want to get my over-analytical head get out of the way and 'de-logicify' (if there be such a word), the process.

So! The next time I find the tears streaming down my face when someone wins a home make-over, I shall stop, pause, feel what's actually going on within me and not think about it too much until I am done feeling it through.

I wonder if that's even possible for an "Aquarian" wannabe Vulcan! hahaha :p

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