Saturday, March 3, 2012

My Theory of Emotions

I know I haven’t been able to blog much lately; I have been pretty busy with lacrosse season, and my new workout schedule has replaced most of my blogging time so I apologize to my avid followers- if there are any! Anyways, over the past month I have had quite a few conversations with my family and some of my friends regarding emotions, empathy, and understanding. I want to talk about where I stand when it comes to these matters because I tend to look at things differently than most people so it often leads to misunderstandings. (You can absolutely argue with me on these points; I am not saying that I am right- I am simply explaining where I am coming from). I generally believe that negative emotions are irrational. I’m going to give a few scenarios to describe what I’m talking about.

First of all, it really bothers me when men call women emotional, and they say it like it is a bad thing. Everyone is emotional; we just display those emotions in different ways. For instance, I am not a crier. I simply don’t cry, and honestly it makes me slightly uncomfortable when other people cry. The last time I cried was back in November after a horrible fight with JD, marking the finality of our relationship. I can’t remember the time before that. I just don’t cry. My defense mechanism is to laugh instead. So when I tend to laugh during situations where other people would normally be crying, my ability to feel is called into question. My own mother asked me awhile back, in all seriousness, if I even had any feelings at all. I am not a sociopath, and of course I can feel. In fact, I probably feel emotions more intensely than most people. It’s not that I don’t feel sadness or pain, I just don’t show it in the ways that other people do. Instead, I feel more comfortable making light of a situation and try to change the negative mood. It might not always seem appropriate, but that’s the way I deal with things; the same as most people cry to deal with the same feelings.

Empathy is another quality of mine that has been questioned lately. I absolutely have the ability to put myself in another person’s shoes and feel what they are feeling. But again, I don’t display my emotions quite like most people. … A little background: a friend of mine gave me this scenario just last night: he asked me if I could put myself into the shoes of a person who had worked their entire life and felt the feeling of desperation after no longer able to afford to retire…. Yes, I can imagine that person’s disappointment and frustration and even exhaustion in such that situation. I can understand those things because I have felt them, although not in the same context of course, but I can imagine. What I was trying to explain to my friend is that it is a waste of time to feel that way because everything can be broken down into rational responses.
See I believe that people make decisions based on what they believe in that particular moment will make them happy. To me, happiness is a state in which people choose to be in or not. I use the phrase, “in the pursuit of happiness” all the time, but I don’t really think that happiness is something that you have to strive to be. Happiness is not an end goal; it is a state of mind. So there are two options you are faced with when you begin to feel a negative emotion: you either accept the way things are or you change the situation you are in. While I understand the person who is unable to retire; I would not react the same way in the same situation. Instead, if I were truly unhappy about the circumstances, I would rationalize the situation and react accordingly. Maybe that sounds irrational, but I am a firm believer in taking a step back and working through things in your head and redirecting the thought process. That is what cognitive behavioral therapy is based on is it not?

Another situation I was in recently involved my BFF Kitty. (Hopefully she won’t mind me telling this story). But she recently got upset with me over a few things, and she bottled them up for so long that one afternoon she sort of just blew up at me. I was pretty surprised by this because I was unaware that there was even a problem. But the problem ended up being that we just don’t react the same way to certain situations. Things that don’t seem like a big deal to me, really upset her. But we had the discussion about how we would handle things like that. See when she does something that bothers me, I choose to forget about it and move on. I don’t bottle them up because I will never pick a fight with Kitty. I think that it is a waste of time to fight with her because she is my best friend, and I would rather stay friends than create drama over what I can rationalize as nothing in the big scheme of things. To me, I look at it as why threaten the relationship over something that won’t mean a thing in a week? Kitty, on the other hand, can’t just move on from a bothersome situation. So we have the understanding that if I do something that makes her upset, she will call me on it right then and there, and we can move on. And I understand that she needs to do that in order to deal with things so I can’t get upset at her for calling me out. Our relationship seems to work because of our basic understanding of how the other person works.

The problem tends to occur for me, is when people think I am insensitive. It’s not that I am insensitive; it’s simply that I just process things in a different way. I make the choice to feel a certain way by readjusting the way I look at a situation. I make the choice every day to be as happy as I can on that given day. If that makes me seem insensitive or lacking emotion and/or empathy, than hopefully this post will allow you all to readjust the way you look at my reactions or lack thereof.

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