Feeling in analogies, and what are feelings anyway?

I´m not sure but could it be that I don´t understand what feelings are? I´m actually asking my readers here because I don´t see how i could answer this question myself.

When I talk about how I feel, is what I talk about what you would describe as feelings? Or could it be that I´m always talking about beliefs and thoughts? Do I often say things like “I feel like I am actually a bad person”? And is that anything other than “I wonder if I believe or should believe that I´m a bad person”? Is that a feeling?

Maybe I only understand feeling in the way some people say “I have a feeling it might rain today!” Feelings as intuitions, possible truths, assumptions which you have without being able to pin down why. I feel like I´m caught in a cage made up of such assumptions and I´m using my mind as a rasp to wear down the bars. But here I´m doing it again. “I feel like…” I only ever feel in analogies. What I´m saying is “in my mind my situation resembles the situation of a person who…” It is a way to communicate because it evokes images and feelings in others. But that´s not very straightforward, is it? I can talk about feelings without knowing exactly what it is that I feel. And once I ask myself how I know what a person in a cage would feel like my confusion is complete.

When I did that mind in the eyes test I solved it by thinking of different situations. “That person looks like a person who is annoyed at his friends´ idiocy.” I identify feelings by putting them into the context of a story. Give me a picture of a person and I´ll tell you a story about her, but don´t expect me to just say “she feels sad/angry/happy”. I might be able to judge that somehow, but I´ll feel like I have no real information. Like I´ve said nothing of significance. Without a backstory and lots of information, those words don´t make sense to me.

I wrote a few months ago how conversations between me and Dr. Stoneface played out. He asked me how I felt. I answered with a complicated analogy or picture. He tried to put it into a conventional emotional term. I couldn´t agree with him for the life of me. The best way to describe the feeling I had in such moments is “just NO”. I guess “just no” is not a feeling, but maybe it will help others understand what kind of feeling I had. I guess it´s more of a feeling than the analogies my mind produces. It could be interesting to look for more such reactions in me.

My reaction to what I write right now is somewhere along the lines of: “Tricky!” If it was said out aloud, it would be slightly amused recognition, like when you see through someone´s tricks but it entertains and somewhat moves you how hard he tries and how sophisticated his attempts are. Yes, another analogy. I take this as a signal that I´m trying to achieve something else by writing this. Like I´m trying to cheat.

Do feelings tell you the truth? If I feel like I´m cheating, am I cheating? The typical answer to this seems to be that if I feel like something is wrong, there probably is. My typical reaction is that I look for something until the feeling stops and there is a sense of satisfaction. But is that an indicator of truth? It is, once again, an analogy. “I feel like I´m cheating.” An intuition. Maybe it doesn´t come from my heart but from my head. Maybe something about my argument is shaky and that makes me uneasy. Maybe I feel uncomfortable because I´m not sure yet of what I write here and yet I make tentative claims. Maybe my claims aren´t tentative enough. Yes, I believe it is an intellectual discomfort. I have no idea, though, how I came to that belief. It just was there. And you can guess how uncomfortable THAT makes me. Do I have any arguments to support my claim? No. Just a vague – feeling. And do feelings tell the truth?

I have a couple of thoughts going on in my head now. I thought about writing. I think I don´t just express my feelings through analogies, I also express them through stories and sort them out with the help of daydreams. It´s not so much expressing and sorting out, maybe, than it is exorcising. I have a feeling of existential loneliness, I write a story about the last man on earth, the pressure is gone. This may be why I cannot stop writing, but at the same time I cannot plan to write. I don´t think I could make writing my profession. I need something else to occupy my mind. Something that is my life. Writing just happens. My writing gets better when I don´t think.  I always had the strong feeling that I cannot “just” be a writer. I need another job, and one that gives me something intellectually. I used to distrust that feeling and try to convince myself that I want to be “just a writer”, but I will forever fail at that. Now, see, that was another instance of me feeling. A stubborn idea. Or maybe just another intuition.

I might have been dealing with these intuitions the wrong way. It´s like this: I have plenty of them. Plenty intuitions, assumptions, possible truths. And to those I react with something that could, in the most primitive sense, be described as pleasure and displeasure.

Instinctive assumption: “I need to find a profession where I feel at home and at ease, besides being a writer!” Reaction: Somewhere between pleasure and displeasure, either burning hope and yearning or fear, despair and frustration.

Instinctive assumption: “I have a personal vendetta going against psychotherapy and therefore all my thoughts about it are distorted to fit my agenda!” Reaction: Extreme displeasure. Impotent rage, despair, nagging feeling that it´s true.

What can my reactions to these assumptions tell me about the assumption? In the first case, the answer might be that very much depends on me finding such a profession and realizing this plan. Actually, my reaction might tell me that this is my life dream, my implicit conception of the right way to live, and that I should try to realize it. Which is all fair and well if you can also tell me how to overcome the terrible fear that I´ll fail.

What does my reaction tell me about the second assumption? You know what reaction I have to that question right now? Kind of “ugh!” Not that again. I can´t be arsed right now, so I won´t discuss it. The simplest answer might be that my reaction tells me I need to look into the subject. It´s something that is important to me and therefore ignoring it is pointless, even though I´m getting on everyone´s nerves with it, including my own.

Listening to your feelings seems to be a remarkably simplistic strategy once you´ve figured out what feelings are. I´m not sure I can get used to this. I don´t like to base my decisions on feelings. But reason can be quite misguiding. There are good arguments for many life choices, after all. I´d like to have arguments that go beyond “I felt like it”, but maybe “I feel like it” is the most important argument sometimes.

I don´t like things that cannot be reasoned for, against or with. I could probably give you good reasons for that, but in its essence this dislike, ironically, is a feeling, too. When someone tells me to “listen to my heart”, I´m like “ick! go away!”. Yeah, “like”. Like a five year old boy who´s supposed to give Auntie a kiss. Feeling in analogies works for me. It makes for good writing, or at least the best writing I can do. It means, however, that I´ll never get rid of my daydreaming. I need to take care, though, that I don´t believe in my analogies. I might feel like someone has beaten me numb, but that doesn´t mean that at some point in my life I have physically experienced such a thing. The line between analogy and imagination blurs easily. Since I feel in analogies, I can easily transfer my own feelings onto situations I have not physically been in. It has been torturing me for years whether or not I´m right about how people in these situations feel. It´s probably why I took the empathy test and why I took it so seriously. This leads way too far right now, though.

I´ll try to sum up what I figured out about myself today:

1) I feel in analogies. I always feel like [insert drastic or not so drastic image].

2) I´m not really motivated to change how I perceive my emotions. Whenever I come to the conclusion that it would be impossible anyway I feel strong relief.

3) I enjoy looking for just the right analogy. Finding it has me go all like “hell yes!” It´s almost physically satisfying.

4) Writing about stuff or staging conversations with imaginary allies in my head does more for me than talking to actual people. At least I´m much more comfortable with it. It´s so incredibly me.

I doubt this is in any way coherent, so if it doesn´t make sense to you, it´s not you, it´s me.

 

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