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I find analyzing the source of my emotions very difficult

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Reading Objectivist writing on emotion, it's nature, and the ideal role it serves in a Man's life has been incredibly comforting for me. Before I had simply never thought of emotions in that way. That is, as immediate evaluator based on values, values which in turn depend upon the mind.

I believe this to be true, but I have great difficulty actually finding the source of my own emotions. I find it's like trying to hold a low amperage live wire, it is mentally but also physically difficult. Has anyone else encountered this? What are some steps I might take?

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Has anyone else encountered this? What are some steps I might take?

I am in the same boat... I have found Edwin Locke's lectures "Stress and Coping" (here) and the "Art of Introspection" (from this year's OCON, which will be available to buy in October methinks) to be incredibly helpful.

When I brought up a question about difficulty with emotions at the Introspection lecture (mentioned above), Harry Binswanger's wife, Jean Moroney-Binswanger suggested this book, "Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think" but I have not read it yet. Also, Binswanger himself has done a lecture called "Emotions" (here), but again, I haven't listened to it yet... but he's a great speaker, so I will be willing to guess that these are great lectures as well.

One thing mentioned in the Locke class that I found to be the most helpful is just to identify the triggers or 'what happened a minute ago before i started feeling this way' (and ideally, to write them down aka "journal") even if it doesnt make sense to you in that moment, you will start to notice patterns -- that information alone will help you dig deeper.

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I seem to have a related but different problem - I find the source of my emotions after introspection but often really don't like the answer. I've come to realize over time that I'm running up against some sense-of-life issues and that more than else, I believe that to be the source of difficulty in integrating my disparate sides.

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I seem to have a related but different problem - I find the source of my emotions after introspection but often really don't like the answer. I've come to realize over time that I'm running up against some sense-of-life issues and that more than else, I believe that to be the source of difficulty in integrating my disparate sides.

I'm also dealing with this problem Madkat. The important thing is not to repress your unwanted emotions. Instead, accept them as part of yourself at least at this point in time. In my experience they will start to dissolve and integration will be easier. This is based on my reading of Branden's "The Art of Living Consciously" which also contains a good sentence stem completion course.

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I seem to have a related but different problem - I find the source of my emotions after introspection but often really don't like the answer. I've come to realize over time that I'm running up against some sense-of-life issues and that more than else, I believe that to be the source of difficulty in integrating my disparate sides.

I have this problem at times, too. Sometimes, I think my actual life, and my outlook on it, has always been more like Gail Wynand's rather than Howard Roark's. I think it just takes some time to work out some of the deeply hidden conflicts of reason or certain bad premises one learned in one's youth before finding out how to always think as an Objectivist should.

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I have this problem at times, too. Sometimes, I think my actual life, and my outlook on it, has always been more like Gail Wynand's rather than Howard Roark's. I think it just takes some time to work out some of the deeply hidden conflicts of reason or certain bad premises one learned in one's youth before finding out how to always think as an Objectivist should.

Guys, deep seated "sense of life" contradictions take a long time to work out. Don't beat yourselves up about it. Just keep introspecting, resolving an issue as you come to it. Sometimes just one issue takes years. After a while your sol will shift!

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Guys, deep seated "sense of life" contradictions take a long time to work out. Don't beat yourselves up about it. Just keep introspecting, resolving an issue as you come to it. Sometimes just one issue takes years. After a while your sol will shift!

Not too worried about it. I'm only 23. I think after I achieve some more of my major goals (which I will) it may help things. One problem is that I have a characteristic of my personality I call "spiteful", but I'm using it in the biological sense of the term, not the common usage. Spiteful interactions are the opposite of mutualistic interactions. Mutualistic interactions result in benefit to both parties (+ actor,+ recipient) whereas spiteful interactions involve loss to both parties (- actor, - recipient). I do have this tendency within me, where I will act to destroy something knowing full well it only harms me in the process but not caring, because I hate that thing/person so much (there was always something to cause this first, such as the person wronging me somehow). But the other day I heard someone who used to be close to me more or less admit that one reason she made some poor decisions was to prove to me she could despite my warnings, like "nyah nyah can't stop me", and I realized just how destructive "spite" in the biological sense can be to value. Reality always gets ya in the end, I suppose.

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I think after I achieve some more of my major goals (which I will) it may help things.

This sums up me perfectly. All the causes of my emotional "problems" at this stage in my life is because I am in that interim phase of building towards my goals (i.e being in school) and having to suffer through what goes along with that (i.e. working in a company where I would rather not be under a president who doesn't understand Objectivist principles and cares more about the balance sheet than in giving me the necessary time and resources to do the job right and to my own high standards). So I find I have emotional outburts at work at the president over my frustration and what I view as all his shortcomings as a leader and manager.

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I have this problem at times, too. Sometimes, I think my actual life, and my outlook on it, has always been more like Gail Wynand's rather than Howard Roark's. I think it just takes some time to work out some of the deeply hidden conflicts of reason or certain bad premises one learned in one's youth before finding out how to always think as an Objectivist should.

What Kendall said.

It is important that one should not take the content of his emotions as the criterion of his moral worth. Doing so leads to repression and repression is the opposite of introspection and prevents integration. It is not emotions which are being repressed (if emotion is not felt - it is not an emotion) - repression is always directed at thoughts, specifically, what is blocked is evaluations that would lead to emotions.

Man's moral worth is judged by the degree of rationality. What bares significance to man's moral statue is the way he deals with his emotions . If he proceeds to defy his reason and conscious judgment and acts on them while knowing they are wrong, he will have good grounds to condemn himself. But if, on the other hand, he refuses to act on them and sincerely strives to understand and correct his underlying errors, then, in the present, he is a man of integrity.

Feeling an emotion or having a desire does not mean one must act on it. A rational man neither represses his feeling/desires (even if irrational) nor acts on them blindly. One of the strongest protections against repression (and biggest contributors to integration) is a man's conviction that he will not act on an emotion merely because he feels it. This allows him to face his emotions calmly, to aknowledge them, and to determine their justafiability without fear or guilt. The man who is afraid of his emotions and represses them, sentences himself to be pushed by subcounscious motivation, which means, to be ruled by feelings whose existances and reasons he dares not to identify.

Edited by ~Sophia~
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What Kendall said.

It is important...

Thanks for this, Sofia. This is what I've working on for the last several years, and I think I am getting a lot closer to full emotion/intellectual ideas integration. But, I'm not all the way there yet, and it does frustrate me sometimes. Which I think may show in my frustration at others, at times, especially when I don't agree with them.

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  • 6 years later...

It's easy for Objectivists to fall into the trap of thinking that being rational means avoiding feeling emotions. At least it has been for me so far. It can also be a little embarrassing to realize you have a feeling about something which is diametrically opposed to reason.

 

But I think (As others on here have said) that you have to understand your emotions in order to understand the values underlying them. You have to let yourself feel everything that's there in order to evaluate it and decide what values the emotions are a response to, and if necessary to find a more positive way of seeking these values.

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