Kaj Sotala (Xuenay) (xuenay) wrote,

Not believing in your emotions

One of the many things that I've learned from theferrett is that I don't have to believe in my emotions.

Here's an example of what I mean. Last night, I was suffering from insomnia. As frequently happens when I do, I got frustrated and started worrying about everything. It did not take long before this proceeded into severe self-doubt issues: will I ever amount to anything, will any of my projects actually succeed, et cetera. I was quickly - as usual - becoming convinced that the answer was no, and I should just stop being ambitious and settle for some safe but boring lifepath while I still had the chance.

Now, previously I'd only thought of two options in this kind of a situation:

A) Get rid of the thoughts by distracting myself or finding something that will cheer me up and get me out of that mood.
B) Fail to get out of the mood, keep thinking these thoughts.

For some reason, it had never occurred to me that there could also exist a third option:

C) Keep feeling miserable, but stop thinking those thoughts.

So that's what I did. I thought, "I'm feeling miserable because I can't sleep and I'm frustrated, but that has nothing to do with whether my projects and ambitions will be successful or not. My current emotions convey me no information about that topic. So it's pointless to doubt myself because of these emotions." (Not in so many words, but that was the general idea.)

So I stopped thinking those thoughts. And while I still felt generally miserable, the thoughts stopped making me feel even worse.

Previously I had thought that emotions and thoughts were connected in such a way that in some kinds of bad moods, you had no choice but to think negative thoughts. Now it appears that this isn't the case. Is this something that everyone but me knew already, or is it something that should be talked about a lot more?

Cross-posted: G+, FB.
Tags: my life, psychology
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