- Fiona Apple, “Every single night.” This lyric kept rattling around in my head, because it feels right (feeling more is healthy!) but most emotions are bad.
Most emotions are bad
I remember hearing that we basically only have happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise, and disgust. (Not sure if this is true; I think it came from Paul Ekman? Who is somehow amazing at getting into airport nonfiction books and google results, so I don’t trust him so much. Still, googling “emotion wheels” gives a variety of takes on “basic emotions” that are usually about 2/3 negative.)
I know, I know, who’s to say what’s good or bad. But I’m going to say that if you could only experience sadness, anger, fear, and disgust for the rest of your life, you probably wouldn’t consider that a life worth living. (And surprise wouldn’t really help much.)
“Feeling more” is good
I have no proof for this; I am just hand waving. But when’s the last time any kind of healing involved “feeling less”? Closing your heart is generally a bad thing, right?
How to square these, a few ideas
- “feeling more” is only good for people like me: people on the “autism” end of the autism-schizophrenia spectrum. If you’re dealing with schizophrenia, then absolutely please do turn down your emotions' volume!
- the number of “negative” emotions is bigger than the number of “positive” emotions, but we spend more time in the “positive” ones. So having your emotions be louder is still a net win.
- there’s a built-in negative quality to life without emotions. Something like: “boredom” and “ennui” might not be on your wheel, but they’ll still swoop in and fill the space if you don’t have other emotions. So, might as well take the random wheel-spin of emotions; better than guaranteed ennui.
- Paul Ekman is a huckster and a ted-talker and your emotion wheels should have more than 1/6 positive ones
Another timely post
I just happened on this guy’s experience with not feeling that seems related here. Oh, and for what it’s worth, I’m not actually arguing that I should turn down the volume on my feelings (if that were even possible); I’m just curious why I don’t believe that I should!
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