(Originally a Facebook post for Mental Health Month, 8.10.18)
Crying! Laughing! Yelling! Smiling! These are all commonly agreed upon emotional reactions and signs of expression. But what about…
Avoiding a situation because you don’t know what to do despite knowing that avoidance will have consequences down the track?
Choosing the comedy program over the documentary?
Engaging in one-upmanship in an argument, despite agreeing with the reasoning of the counter-points?
Choosing to walk and catch the sun when driving would be quicker and more efficient?
Hitting someone when it’s known a conversation would more likely resolve the issue?
Pressing the snooze button when you know that means less time to get ready?
Preoccupying thoughts or conversations about how wrong someone else’s opinion is, despite having stated ‘Well, I don’t care what you think. That’s just your opinion”, and your reasoning for this statement makes sense?
Choosing what colour pen to use?
These random examples are all very banal, normal, accepted, everyday actions (except the hitting!), aren’t they? People would rarely associate these with emotional expression- but what else are they?
The information the actions are motivated by isn’t reasoned, rational, objective or factual. In fact, some of the actions are quite illogical. But nonetheless, normal, some even unremarkable.
The above, and the attached philosophical article might seem like ideas peripheral to mental health issues as we commonly discuss them. We focus on disorders, deficits, dysfunctions and abnormality, not sameness and normality.
From my observations and perceptions, however, I have a very strong belief about the impact of our cultural and intellectual lack of insight into what emotionality actually is. This includes:
- Our poor understanding of how fundamental and universal our emotionality is.
- Impacts of this poor understanding on some of the psychological and interpersonal influences on mental health.
- Our poor understanding of emotionality maintaining cultural barriers to improving a broader understanding of mental health.
But wait, what’s so emotional about choosing the colour of my pen?
Later I will explore what I mean by the emotional component of these examples and the functional impact of what I see as our rudimentary understanding of emotions.
For now, I’ll leave it to Alain de Botton (or his proxy?) to muse on emotional growth…
Other posts in The Emotional Choice of Pen Colour Series: