Emotions and authenticity

Whoosh, what an emotional week this has been. Due to events that I can’t talk about in this space, I am struggling mightily with what feels like ALL the negative emotions: frustration, anger, depression, anxiety, F*CKTHISSH*TIMOUTOFHEREitis, you name it.

I’m not always sure what to think about emotions, but I am trying to manage them and understand them as best I can. I think emotions are some of the most naturally authentic things about us. They reflect what is really going on inside of us, they show us how we are really reacting to events in our life and the world, and negative emotions signal that something is amiss and needs to be dealt with, even if we don’t know what that something is. I don’t mean this in a judgmental way, I simply lean towards the view that happiness is a right state for humans (idealized and unattainable though that may be) and negative emotions can help us figure out when that state has been skewed in us or in the world.


I very clearly know the source and reason behind my negative emotions at this particular moment, and sadly, there isn’t much I can do to change the circumstances that my deep brain has recognized as needing to be fixed. What I do think these emotions are helping me see, however, is that something needs to change. If it can’t be these particular circumstances, then maybe it can be a change in my overall circumstances. I am working on that.

But there are always things I can change about me to better handle and even maybe dispel (or quiet) some of my anger and frustration. A friend of mine reminded me that sometimes just identifying the emotion and the cause can create some distance from the emotion and ease its force. Giving the rational brain a chance to chime in can help take some of the power away from the emotional brain. (Speaking rather figuratively here.)

Sometimes just sitting with the emotions for a bit, letting them feel themselves out, is the best option. Grief works like this, I think. Grief is natural and not something to be “fixed.” Allowing ourselves to go through the process of grieving is much healthier than trying to fix or stifle or “get over” those emotions.

Overall, regardless of how they should be handled at the time, I think emotions highlight quite tellingly that there are essentially kind of two “authenticies” about us: the self we naturally, instinctively are (emotions), and the one we help create and grow into (emotions + rationality and action). Balancing the two can be difficult, but that’s kind of the core complication about authenticity. We have a multitude of “selves” to analyze, synthesize, balance, and understand as a whole.

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