Logicking Myself Into Emotions

My emotional growth, personally and in relationship with others, is due in large part to my intellectual grasp of the sheer logic of developing myself in that area.

This page is a stub, created on 2020-04-07 (last updated on 2020-07-26). Its contents are notes on the issues and angles I want to address about this topic.

Growing up, my general sensitivity and emotions were a frequent source of pain for me. That gradually turned into a rejection of emotions, and I remember being in high school, explicitly, stubbornly, and naively trying to reject emotions in a very characteristically (and explicitly!) Vulcan way.

By college, I think it started manifesting as impatience with others' emotions, too, and not for any lack of emotions on my own part. To a large degree, my approach to philosophy, while passionate, was a passion for the logic of it; I was easily seduced by rationalism and repression.

In philosophic discourse, I was contemptuous of others' emotional contexts, intent on reaching them on "pure" logical grounds. The failure of that approach only fueled my piss and vinegar. "Emotions aren't a tool of cognition." was the Objectivist mantra I held onto, and it wasn't until I learned more about the Objectivist view of emotions and their mechanics and proper role that I started embracing them.

Gradually, without intentional effort, I started noticing that communication was much more effective when I actually took other people into account. Oddly, to this day, I still sort of think of people as just another sort of "thing" in the world, which makes them dealable-with for me and my thing-task-fact-idea orientation. (Unintentionally, I think that helped inoculate me to some extent against a lot of the pitfalls of trying to "fit in", seeking approval, and allowing social cohesion to override my commitment to be authentically who I am.)

But given how the brain works in terms of emotions and automatization, as I understood the phenomenon of other people (and their pesky emotions) better and better, I developed a first-handed experience of them as "ends in themselves". This went hand in hand with better understanding my own emotions and willingness to experience them fully and deeply, all the while refining my grasp of where they come from, how they work, how to use them, and how to change them.

Fast forward a decade from getting out of grad school, and especially after reading all of Brené Brown, I feel like I can't "unknow" what I've learned about connection and empathy over all these years.

Increasingly, I find myself automatically experiencing/feeling/practicing compassion and empathy in situations where I would have previously written someone off as just being "wrong" or even "evil"; this is because I "just know", for instance, that people are generally doing the best they can.

Everything I observe in myself and others reinforces that. I can't "unknow" it any more than I can "unknow" that 2+2=4. But while this is becoming automatic, I think it's right to nevertheless call it "unnatural"; I am still basically oriented in a thing-task-fact-idea way.

The result is that a process I have logicked myself into and which I cannot stop is extremely emotionally taxing for me, even when that process yields exactly the life-affirming, value-achieving results that motivated my learning and adoption of it in the first place.

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