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Talking yourself out of emotion, part 2
Due to the huge response from the last entry with this title I thought I would try to elaborate a little more. Before the last entry, I was worried that I might come across OCDish (obsessive compulsive disorder – like) and I think I succeeded in not doing so. On the other hand I think I missed part of what I was trying to explain. I would also like to say that I do not have all the answers, thankfully I can get valuable and very much appreciated insight from my friends.
I had this sensation (of pure emotion based decision making) recently in different cases and thought I would get a little more specific to illustrate.
My thought processes went like this: “It’s about time I finally got that Canon 17-35 2.8 wide angle lens, and its only $1500. I mean what am I waiting for? I’ve had my current 15-30 Sigma now for 4 years, and even though its great, that extra stop from 3.5 to 2.8 would be wonderful.”
I then proceed to imagine how wonderful life would be with my new Canon 17-35 2.8 lens and in a very subtle way form an emotional bond with the thought, as if my happiness depended on getting that lens. In fact, I really don’t even need that lens, yet for some reason, I “make-up” a reason to think it will make me happy. I know that if I were to get the lens, I would be giddy about it for a week and then that happiness would fade.
Another example: I did a body building contest a few years ago, it magnified these sensations in relationship to food. I believed that eating certain things had everything to do with my happiness. Again, if food is what usually makes you happy, something is off. Both of these examples show how we can be lead to make illogical decisions because we believe something can make us happy.
Another example would be how we relate to money. While money is certainly nice to have, I know it is wrong to form an emotional connection with money, to the degree it is “loved”.
I really feel that what I may be attempting to describe is the discipline of emotional self control, much of which has to do with “making due with what you have or doing without”, as well as what we place our desires and happiness on. Regardless of how much income we make, the tendency to want more, especially when we get a raise, seems to out pace our abilities to meet those wants. I believe this happens in every type of situation, money, food, relationships, etc. Excess promotes waste and error. Our emotional wants, have the ability to high jack our thoughts and lead us to incorrect thinking.
After the discussion we had after the last entry, I definitely agree that correct logical thinking often leads to correct emotional well being, but because emotions are so wide ranging, they cannot be trusted as a choice making scheme that will bring happiness. Emotions must be bridled and constantly kept in check.
Ask any woman who “loves” a man who doesn’t love them back if they are “happy”? Surprisingly, many will say they are, even when they are not.
Road rage is another extreme example; perfectly normal, rational people become murderers because they cannot keep their emotions in check.
While these are extreme illustrations, I believe that on a daily basis we confuse ourselves with what will bring us happiness. Thankfully, we can control these thoughts and feelings if we recognize them.
To answer Tracy’s last questions I will say this:
Tracy- I like to think of emotion as what drives the action after the thought has gone into it. A football player can be very emotional and also mistake prone. If the football player can channel his emotions into the framework of his assignment or training, he becomes unstoppable. If he were to run around yelling and screaming without direction, his teammates would think he was crazy. The thought is the direction and aim, the emotion fuels the execution. This is exactly how it is for me with photography. When they are both there…wow…its synergistic and amazing! One alone isn’t enough. Ask anyone who sees my reaction after a good shoot or photo. It’s one of the best natural highs. So to answer your question, its not so much about turning off your emotions as it is keeping them in check, usually after you have thought it out, and then applying the emotion to it. When I say this, I am talking about good emotions.
Bad emotions are basically like bricks. You are just carrying extra weight, find a way to unload these emotions or remove yourself from situations where you feel them and just move on.
I think the discussion of how faith plays a role in our thoughts and emotions will be the next entry on this topic. Obviously, its deep and beyond my understanding, but I will throw out what I think about it and would love to hear what you guys think as well.