If the examples I listed are actually reflections of emotionality, despite having never thought of them as such, then what else remains unexamined of our normal, daily, moment to moment emotional existence?
Does the simplistic, common conception of what constitutes emotions stop us from working to understand and accept our own personal emotional worlds and those of others?
How much does this ignorance perpetuate our intolerance of emotional matters? By intolerance I mean shaming, denying, silencing, inhibiting, attempting to control, attempting to ignore, attempting to apply logical reasoning to explain away emotions (this is what ‘rationalising’ is). Ultimately this seems to compound an insidious conviction that the mere existence of some emotions-regardless of their behavioural impact on the external world- is a negative thing.
How much of this social and cultural intolerance reinforces individual mental habits in which people are less likely to develop the capacity to even pay attention to many of their emotions?
If our emotions will motivate our behaviour, regardless of our lack of conscious awareness of their existence, what incapacitating effect might this have on a person’s ability to control their resulting behaviour if it is likely to have negative consequences for themselves or others?
If a person is misconstruing their lack of awareness of their emotions with the lack of existence of them, again, how will they gain control over the behaviour those emotions may nonetheless motivate?
If the purpose of emotions is to motivate survival behaviour and supplement whatever other information we have about the world in any one moment, how much is our judgement of emotion and lack of awareness limiting the optimal use of a very helpful resource?
And, hypothetically, if increases in the much touted ‘virtue’ of empathy (also a much more complex skill than the simple imperatives to ‘be empathetic’ convey) correlate with a person’s ability to have an awareness of the dynamics of their own emotionality, how much do these baseline misconceptions then impede the more empathetic society and individuals that everyone demands?*
If this could be the case, is this you too? How much of the cultural concepts of emotion do you secretly apply to yourself despite them completely conflicting with what actually happens for you? I think many people would initially say ‘not me’. I was a ‘not me’ as well, as a younger person… I’m now a ‘me too’ (and not just in the # sense).
I’ve fashioned these points as questions (a deliberate, psychological manipulation to compel independent lines of thinking in whoever’s reading), however, remove the interrogative tone and they represent what I see as factor in a chain of cause and effect that I think is actually happening in varying degrees for many (most…???) of us. Exploration of the evidence for or against this is the subject of infinite lines of enquiry, thinking and discussion. The aim of my post, however, is an attempt to spark ongoing thinking and questioning not to provide proof or conclusions.
By the logic above, the state of the world of humans, including its dysfunctions makes perfect sense to me. A completely reasonable, logical outcome when society and culture acts upon premises that completely contradict the way things might actually be working.
Next I’ll be thinking about why the world might not be such a bad place, just misguided, and leave you with an article on the purpose of emotions.
*Side rant… How often is it the case that we demand empathy from another, yet neglect to frame that demand in a way that empathises with why thinking empathetically may reasonably be difficult for that person? But then, this seeming hypocrisy also seems reasonable when you consider that socially we legitimise lack of empathy as an objective moral flaw worthy of judgement and blame and considerations of any mental or experiential impediments to gaining empathy are either equally judged or unexamined. And these cycles continue despite often succeeding less at creating mutual empathy and more at creating defensiveness and resistance. This is an example of the type of counter-productive behaviour that really makes me think we don’t give proper credit to what might actually be happening internally for ourselves and others.
This article explores the purpose of our emotions: