This is a subheading in Mark Manson’s book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. I totally vibed to this section. He talks about emotions being “feedback mechanisms” that notify us when something is right or wrong for us in our environment. Like eek a snake… fear! Or mmm a cupcake… happy! Those are simple ones obviously, but even the more complex ones are feedback too and it’s less stressful to consider them as such. Oh, I’m feeling anxious, why? And then I can logically go through the things in my environment that are making me feel out of control. Which are all the things, but still. It’s helpful (for me)!
You know where it’s super useful? In dealing with unpleasant stuff online. Look, someone said a mean thing to me and I am feeling all sorts of sad and bad and rage. Instead of immediately acting on that, I think about why I’m feeling those things. Is the comment partly true? Are there things I could do better ~ I’ll work on them! Is the commenter just a trolling jerk trying to get a rise out of peeps? Most of the time this is it and the correct response is to ignore, mute, block, or sometimes simply make a silly joke to defuse the situation. Responding heatedly only encourages more of the same. This is a hard lesson for some people to learn, but my online presence was born in the flames of Usenet, so I usually can step back.
This dovetails with the other way I like to think about emotions ~ the train metaphor. I strive to envision my mental landscape as a serene, calm, beautiful place with lush gardens, fluffy clouds, pretty butterflies, and sparkling lakes. There is also a train track and periodically an “emotion car” comes through. The car could be full of anger or sadness or joy or hope. But whatever it is… it will pass. Sometimes it’s a long-ass train, car after car of yucky emotions, but even so, eventually it goes away. So very important to keep in mind, for me anyway. I realize it’s just a fancier way of restating “this too shall pass,” but that phrase isn’t evocative for me like the train image.
We like to think of the negative emotions as transitory, but as it turns out, the positive ones are too. At least for me. I can’t sustain joy 24/7, nor would I want to. If every hour was filled with balloons and candy cars, that would get dull. Unfortunately, back when I was “dating” (barf), I and the men I dated wanted constant happiness. If we weren’t feeling awesome all the time when we were together, then obviously something was wrong and we should bail. That’s pretty unrealistic. I think our expectations are set by the media though, which says you need to feel continuous joy in a romance or it’s wrong.
The romances and romcoms I grew up with had this trope. No matter what obstacles life put in the way, the “perfect” person for you would vanquish them so that the relationship could be bliss 24 hours a day. But no one has relationships like this. What happens after the happily ever after ending? That, as my friend Don noted on FB, is the interesting story. That is where the story really begins.
“A fixation on happiness inevitably amounts to a never-ending pursuit of ‘something else’ […] And despite all of our sweat and strain, we end up feeling eerily similar to how we started: inadequate.” ~ Mark Manson in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
©️2020 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.
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