I’m not what most people consider overly emotional. If I’m being honest, they probably don’t think I’m even moderately emotional.
In fact, I often joke that I’m Vulcan.
If you’re a Star Trek nerd and you get that - I love you. If you’re like ‘a what now?’ I still love you but for the love of the Federation, go watch some Next Generation, Voyager, or Discovery.
Back to Vulcans. They are well-known for their logical and dispassionate approach to life. But what many people don’t realize is that they embraced logic as a form of self-preservation.
Surak introduced the principles of logic to his people in the hope that through embracing and cultivating logic over emotion, the Vulcan people would be able to rein in the savage nature of their emotions and create a stable and orderly society.
All nerdom aside, they weren’t emotionless. They felt things deeply but they managed their minds with logic. That’s what I tend to do.
But the thing is, while it’s completely possible for me to maintain a neutral emotional range most of the time - that doesn’t really allow me to experience the full spectrum of joy and pain that should be part of being alive.
It’s mind-numbing to be neutral all of the time. The feeling of being alive comes from the diversity of emotions we have the ability to experience.
I totally understand why you would want to avoid pain. I get it. I’m an expert at compartmentalization, suppression, and even some good old-fashioned repression. If an emotion is overwhelming to me, I’ve been known to completely delete the memory from my database and forget that the experience ever happened. I don’t recommend this by the way - it’s just something that happens in my brain as a defense mechanism.
Some people think it sounds like a superpower but it’s really not. It slows growth and leads to all kinds of secondary problems.
What thoughtwork allows me to do is be more aware of all of my emotions, learn to process them, and most importantly - not live in fear of any type of emotion. Even those that are subjectively bad.
** I’m going to pause here to define what I mean by negative or bad in the context of emotions. I mean nonpreferred or subjectively bad rather than objectively bad. I don’t believe any emotions are bad, they’re just the byproduct of a thought you’ve had. But they’re there for a reason.
I also want to point out that when I’m talking about feelings and emotions, I mean those that are not created from a psychiatric or neurological condition nor those that are created due to the use of medications or drugs. I’m talking about your run-of-the-mill day-to-day emotions that exist on a spectrum of excruciating heartbreak to euphoria.**
So why would you want to feel the “bad” emotions if you don’t have to? Because if you don’t experience the “negative” emotions, then you don’t have anything to compare the positive ones to.
Besides, do you want to feel neutral about child abuse, human trafficking, hate crimes, or the death of a loved one? Probably not. The negative emotions not only allow you to experience the full scope of what it means to be alive, but they help point you in the direction of thoughts you may not realize you’re having or actions you may want to take.
That’s what all emotions do.
The thing they don’t do is cause suffering.
Yes, feeling grief sucks but it also allows you to process loss and move forward. It’s when you try to avoid feeling something that it’ll FUBAR your world.
Let’s say you want to avoid the feeling of grief. What would you have to avoid to even try to do that successfully? Love is for sure out, right? Because if you love someone and they die, then you’d feel grief. Nope. Love is off-limits. That probably means no pets either, because those furry little paws that come with unconditional love would for sure cause grief when they died. What else would you avoid just because you wanted to avoid a feeling?
I find myself avoiding SO many things to avoid feeling certain feelings and I know for sure I did it even more unconsciously in the past.
But now when I realize I’m avoiding a feeling, I stop and try to figure out why. If I like my reason I carry on but most of the time I don’t like my reason and I do the thing I was afraid to do.
Because usually, the only thing you accomplish by avoiding accidentally feeling an emotion is intentionally feeling it on purpose as you try to avoid it.
Think about grief. If you avoid love to avoid feeling grief in the future - don’t you grieve the loss of love in the present? That’s what I call a lose-lose situation.
If you avoid a conflict so you don’t have to feel distance between you and the other person - aren’t you creating that distance between you and them in the current moment?
That’s what suffering is. Trying to avoid possible emotions in the future by feeling them now for no reason.
10/10 don’t recommend.
Alrighty, it’s music time. Today’s episode was inspired by I Lived by One Republic
From the song:
I hope that you fall in love
And it hurts so bad
The only way you can know
You gave it all you have
And I hope that you don't suffer
But take the pain
I hope when the moment comes you'll say
I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places
The things that I did
Yeah, with every broken bone
I swear I lived
What emotions do you hide from? Which ones do you rush towards with open arms? What would you be able to accomplish if you weren’t afraid of feeling all of your feelings?
Spend time with these questions and see what comes up. If you’re feeling frisky, hit me up on Instagram and share your answers with me.
Until next time, my wish for you is that you live a life filled with the full spectrum of human emotions.