Epistemic Status: I’m bored at the airport, and this is what’s been rattling around my mind.
Disclaimer: I am not trying to say that an emotional state can be “rational” or “irrational”. #allfeelingsarevalid . But for example, if someone changes the channel and you get filled with a seething, burning hatred, you probably consider that an outsized reaction. Ditto if someone cancels a date and you break down in immense sorrow. So these can all be considered emotions I don’t endorse.
Outward Emotional Displays
This category doesn’t fit as well with the others, as these are times when my body shows just the physical display of emotion without the internal experience (e.g. smiling when you aren’t feeling happy). By this I don’t mean faking emotion, as it isn’t under my conscious control.
There is really only one way in which I experience this effect, and it may or may not involve illicit substances (which I don’t use for reasons you will soon understand). Examples include: laughing at a tv show while thinking it was stupid and boring and not feeling at all amused. Also, being told that I look like I’m really enjoying myself and my answer being “No, I am actually really frustrated and annoyed right now, because my face is smiling, and I can’t make it stop.”
That Was Ages Ago!
Sometimes I notice myself experiencing a negative emotion and I don’t know why. I’ll trace it back and realize that it is usually a residual feeling of something that happened hours before. Maybe something annoying or bad happened. Particularly if it was my fault, I feel negatively for a very long time. (I suppose it makes sense for your brain to dwell on things that it did wrong so it’s less likely to happen again). Occasionally I am anxious about something in the future, where the anxiety isn’t actually helping me accomplish anything.
In either case, I first notice myself feeling the negative affect, before realizing what’s causing it, and figuring it out does NOT make the feeling go away.
I Recognize My Own Irrationality
These are times when you are in the throes of a strong emotion, while realizing that this isn’t a “rational” emotion to have (see above disclaimer). An example:
I was arguing with a partner, and was extremely angry, while recognizing that I didn’t endorse my own anger. I told my partner “Yes, I recognize that I shouldn’t be angry right now, but I am!”
Amusingly, he thought that me recognizing this meant that the problem was solved and I could instantly stop being angry. Of course, in reality, I had to wait for my emotions to run their course and let all the adrenaline or whatever is the angry-neurotransmitter clear out before we could calmly have whatever discussion we were having.
I am at the point where I can recognize when I’m not necesarily acting in a way I’d endorse given an outside view, and the best solution I’ve come up with is to get an outside opinion on whether I am over reacting, but of course that requires there being people whose opinions you trust at least as strongly as your own. When I am angry, I might trust an average friend or even acquaintance over my own current point of view.
Mirror Neurons Are A Thing
An example: I think weddings are silly. But there are a bunch of people getting emotional and crying and therefore my brain decides I must get emotional and cry.
Mirror neurons are strong.