One area where I have had a shift in my thinking over the past year is the subject of emotional expression.
I've long felt it is important for us express our emotions, even if they are negative. I felt that if we keep emotions bottled they will ultimately express themselves in other, less healthy ways. In addition I felt that expressing felt emotions is the more honest thing to do.
Two experiences within a week of each other caused me to re-think this notion.
First: I read a book about 'Destructive Emotions' as explored through both Buddhism and science. This book briefly mentioned that the expression of emotions enhances them.
Second: Driving to pick up Marissa from work hearing a piece on Npr about how expressing anger, rather than relieving it leads to more feelings of anger.
I found this information surprising. I suppose it shouldn't be. We know that when it comes to everything else, the more we do something the more ingrained it becomes. WE know our brains rely heavily upon association (if we were in a certain place with a certain odor, smelling that smell will evoke a memory of that place. Or if we felt a certain feeling doing a certain activity, that thing can evoke that feeling) and so the more expressions of anger we have, the more associations we will have to trigger it.
Now, I don't know if I ever believed that unfettered wallowing was healthy and I've always felt expressions of anger seem to be a bad thing, but realizing that expressing emotions often enhances and leads to more of that emotion has caused me to approach both my own dealings with negative emotions and my dealings with others negative emotions differently. And I think I have found it beneficial.
Granted it probably isn't a good thing to walk around with pent up anger or sadness and not try to dissipate it in some way, but perhaps expressing those feelings isn't actually going to resolves them.
I still feel their is value to acknowledging our real feelings. I find it unpleasant when people won't even concede to feeling anything other than good, but perhaps it needn't go much further than just that, acknowledgment.
- Moral relativism and religion.
- Emotional expression.
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- See entry below.
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