Monday 8 January 2018

Intellect, emotion and curiosity

Recent life events over the last several weeks have caused me to wonder about the ways in which I approach my emotional life and how, given my familial background, I grew up intellectualising my feelings. In the last several years, in an effort to live simply, I ceased this practice, that is, the attempt to take an intellectual interest in my emotions as a sort of psychoanalytic case study. While in certain respects, this distinct effort to pay less attention to my emotions, perhaps, admittedly, in an effort to feel less intensely, did me a disservice in that I no longer understood myself. More importantly perhaps, I lost my curiosity when it came to my own emotional engagement with the world and in doing so, lost a part of myself that I had spent years nurturing: that part of me that took a keen interest in psychology and in my efforts to attend to myself psychically. There are risks, however, to this kind of emotional attention. To intellectualise one’s feelings depends necessarily on a certain distance, one that can be healthy, but a distance that also risks, for example, using words such as disassociated rather than disconnected. Ironically, with regard to this example, jargon may lead to a real disconnect with the emotion at hand. Perhaps the way forward is a mindful one that borrows from Buddhism. In this way, I might acknowledge a feeling, accept it, and allow it to exist, painful or not. In respecting this pain, perhaps there is a way to bear it more fruitfully. In accepting my own intensities, perhaps there is a way to better learn to understand them, celebrate them, perhaps discover a way to control them, but also to know when to let them lead me.

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