Monday, December 06, 2004

How we feel

I'm not trained in psychology, but I never let a little thing like that stop me from pontificating.

I think this is true: how we feel about something is FAR more about us and what we bring to a situation than we realize. When event X happens, and we subsequently feel Y, we think: event X made me feel Y.

We don't realize how much the following is true:
a) Our entire lives before this -- all our experiences, habits, learned thought patterns, etc, and how we were feeling just before X happened -- affected how we perceived X.
If every dog we'd ever met bit us (or a dog bit us 5 minutes ago), a dog barking at us will make us feel threatened out of proportion to the actual danger.

b) Our history affects not only our perception of X, but our reaction to it. We are pre-disposed to feel Y because of who we are. Our long-term history, plus genetic chemical/hormonal factors, plus whatever happened right before X did, give us lot of "Y-making" chemicals already bouncing around in our brain.
If we suffer from depression (or just had a rough day at work), we snap at our family.

c) It is emotionally rewarding to externalize upset/unhappiness. If the “bad feeling” thing is caused by someone/something else, it seems less threatening, and our bad feeling more avoidable, more fixable. As well, externalizing our discontent lessens our obligation to take responsibility for our own feelings.
If so-and-so would just do such-and-such (or stop doing such-and-such), I wouldn’t feel so angry.
If my situation were different, I would be happy.

So there you have it -- one aspect of human psychology nutshell-ized for your enjoyment. Or perhaps I'm full of baloney. How do you feel about it?


At Mon Dec 06, 07:01:00 PM PST, Blogger No_Newz said...

Guilty as charged! And a bit of pontificating of my own.
The only way to keep from falling into X resulting in Y, is to force Z upon your memory. For instance, we are all able to set Y aside while talking to a nice old lady or man at the grocery store or in church, at the bank ect., even though on our way to said places, that old fart was in front of us on the highway driving 35 mph and Y had completely taken over.
Z is the happy place we tend to forget. It's where we respect our elders, show all of our manners and treat people the way in which we want to be treated.
Thanks for reminding me how cause and affect have ruled me in an utmost evil way. I will try to keep Z in mind but if that *&$%^@ *$@?!& gets in front of me again while pulling out of the church parking lot one more time... ;)
Lois Lane

At Tue Dec 07, 02:47:00 PM PST, Blogger bryan torre said...

I like the concept of "forcing Z upon your memory" -- it speaks of taking control/responsibility for our feelings and actions.

At Thu Dec 22, 10:52:00 PM PST, Anonymous sooze37 said...

Perhaps the most profound remark you make is in the C) comment for we all do affect our surroundings the turmoil or the calm by our very response to X. Taking responsibility for that affect is part of being grown up. Letting go of that responsibility once it is acknowledged and repented for is part of being healthy! What a concept...grown up and healthy!!! ;)


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