Managing Your Attention, pt. 3

This kid is obviously feeling some trepidation. But acting anyway.[This is a series of posts consisting of “stuff Kat learned over a few years which has proven useful in avoiding drama and managing life despite being arguably crazy.” YMMV. I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on television. Swim at your own risk.]

Okay so, Item #1: Feelings are not controllable directly by the will.

Item #2: All feelings, whether pleasant or unpleasant, have their uses.

Item #2b (or not 2b?): You can choose to act on your feelings, but you don’t have to act on all your feelings, all the time.

Today, we’re going to talk about ACTION.

Item #3: You must take responsibility for what you do no matter what you feel.

Aside from situations involving violence* if you tend to be impulsive, “let your feelings be your guide” is terrible advice. It can lead to wasted money, time and floor space occupied by an expensive set of encyclopedias which will be completely obsolete in five years when Al Gore invents the internet and a bunch of nerds get cracking compiling Wikipedia.

But I digress.

However, most of the time, with typically neurotic (as opposed to psychotic, manic or bipolar) people, it’s not so much the actions you’re taking because of your feelings that pose a problem. It’s the things you aren’t doing because you don’t feel like it.

Aha! All the creative people in the crowd are like “Ouch!” with that one. That stings, yes? 

“You mean I’m responsible for doing the things that need to be done, whether it’s the laundry or writing my novel, even if I don’t have the feels telling me to do them? In fact, even if I have feels telling me it’s not worth the effort, or that it’s pointless?”

YES. THIS. EXACTLY.

More to come.

* Extended Sidebar Regarding the Edge Case: In talking through this with someone, the question “What about when you lose control? What about when you let things build up until you can’t control your reaction?” came up. Talking about people reacting violently after reaching an emotional breaking point.

Yes, it’s true that it’s possible for your emotions to override your judgment. But when that happens, that’s the definition of temporary insanity. If you are genuinely not in control of your actions, you are legally incompetent and should seek immediate medical psychiatric care.

I think many more people choose to act on their emotions than are literally controlled by them.

“I couldn’t control myself” is an excuse far more often than it is a diagnosis. And except in the case of a sudden, unforeseen trauma (the classic example being the unsuspecting spouse who stumbles upon a cheating spouse en flagrante and snaps), you are still responsible for the actions you took or refused to take to deal with the build-up of an unbearable situation.

In other words, if something is slowly driving you mad, then you had the opportunity to try and turn the car off the road before you got to that destination. Thus, you’re still responsible for your actions, despite your feelings.

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