Friday, June 3, 2011

Feelings You Shouldn't Have

I'll be the first to admit that I have inappropriate feelings. I get pissed off at girls who went to cosmetology school, married rich, and have no guilt for not making any intellectual pursuits whatsoever. Why? Because I totally should have done that. Let's face it: my liberal arts degree is almost worthless now, but people still want haircuts and highlights. I want a haircut and highlights. And I get frustrated with this fetus on occasion for break dancing in my womb while I'd like to be sleeping.

But you know what? Getting frustrated at a fetus is ridiculous. It's not a valuable feeling, and feeling it is really a waste of time and energy and has a negative impact on my mood, outlook, and brain chemistry. It is not healthy to be frustrated with a fetus. Expressing that feeling, as I did for example here, isn't really healthy either. And certainly wishing I'd gone to cosmetology school because I think it might make me as cute as this girl I know who did is a waste of my time, and hating her is a waste of even more than that. So I try not to.

But I keep seeing all this BS in pop culture about how our feelings are (a) out of our own control, (b) all equally worthy of feeling and expressing, and (c) unhealthy to try to control.

For example: "The heart wants what the heart wants." Every time I hear that phrase my heart wants to stab out the eyeballs of the speaker. Can we accept that certain desires and feelings are actually wrong, and act accordingly? So you no longer love your wife and your heart wants to bone the secretary—how about you admit that your heart is a total douchebag, get some marriage counseling, and maybe spend less time at reception?

"I can't help the way I feel." This one's true sometimes in the short run, especially during a personal rage spiral or when your hormones have taken over. But when you get some sleep and your period is over, it's time for some feeling accountability. Just like I'm over my irrational irritation toward my beloved baby girl now that I've actually had a nap, there comes a time to sort out our feelings by which are legitimate and which are illogical or useless or unhealthy, and throw out the latter group.

Therapists call on this kind of sorting in Cognitive Therapy. Usually it's applied to negative feelings, but sometimes it needs to be applied to what seem like neutral or positive feelings, like when Charlie Sheen thinks he's winning, or when I think I'm better than other people because I close the toilet lid before flushing. In reality, Charlie Sheen is in a manic state, and I am just wrong (nobody escapes the patina of fecal bacteria that covers our world).

I think to some extent, over time, we all sort out these feelings. Sometimes not before we do something stupid, and occasionally (and more often with all of this BS about all feelings being important) we just never sort them out, and instead every time we feel irritated at our spouse, we tell him all about it until his heart starts wanting to get the heck away from us. More likely, however, before we sort anything, we put our feelings on Facebook, and then complain when they're not validated, when in reality, we shouldn't be considering them valid ourselves, let alone expecting others to find them valid.

So here's to feelings, and admitting that some of them are dumb. Sometimes your feelings don't matter. Sometimes they're wrong, stupid, harmful, and/or useless. And instead of feeling them for the sake of feelings, you should throw them out and try to feel the way you want to feel (which I hope means feeling like a nice person, a good mom, and, say, someone capable of cleaning the living room now and then). I'm talking to you, self. But I'm also talking to the "feelings" crowd out there who always defends others for feeling the way they feel, even if it's wrong. You wouldn't defend me for feeling hate toward a specific race of people, and you shouldn't defend me (or anyone else) for our other douchey feelings. Because when we're stupid enough to post them on Facebook, we deserve the everlasting flames of the internet to burn the idiot feelings out of us.


ixoj said...

That was a GREAT post.

Catherine W said...

Urgh for the inescapable patina of fecal bacteria. I always feel slightly superior about closing the toilet lid before flushing too. But I am all about the germ killing since escaping the NICU.

Feelings are not always a very good guide to action. I don't like using them as an excuse, that's kind of feeble IMHO.