While reading through my writings via my blogs and books, and seeing the hard realities, rational (though often unpopular) analysis, business techniques, and dating / relationship techniques, some have come to the incorrect conclusion that I am against emotions. Particularly, against feeling them and expressing them.
Longtime readers know that I am an INTJ, a very calm one at that (since not all INTJs are calm nor rational) and do my best to view the world through a lens that is as objectively rational as possible for a flawed human being. So yes, if you have a more emotional personality or temperament, you may view some of my advice and observations as cold or unemotional.
Of course I’m not against feeling, having , or expressing emotions. However, it’s not quite as simple as being “for” or “against” them. Based on the research I’ve done and literally hundreds of conversations I’ve had with people on this topic, I think people fall into three separate schools of thought regarding emotions.
School of Thought 1: All Emotions Are Equally Valid
This is, by far, the most popular school of thought on the subject, and one that is reinforced by heavy and non-stop Societal Programming.
This is the belief that all emotions are good, regardless if they’re negative or positive. Feeling happy, joyful, horny, relaxed, peaceful, are all good things to feel. Feeling angry, jealous, lonely, or sad are also good feelings to feel.
I have argued before that this belief is so strong, that we have actually entered an “Era of Emotionalism,” where emotions trump just about everything else in regards to daily actions. This would help explain things like:
- Why people keep getting married even though the divorce rate continues to climb.
- Why people keep gleefully voting for politicians they hate, or at least strongly disagree with.
- Why people continuously make horrible long-term financial decisions for themselves and their families, now more than ever.
- The recent open embrace of socialism in the US.
It’s obvious why positive emotions would be good things, but why would bad emotions be good things? Four reasons are usually given.
1. Negative emotions make you stronger.
“That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is often a quote attached to this. The argument is that if you feel angry or lonely a lot, you’ll somehow be a stronger and/or more capable person.
This is incorrect. I refuted this entire argument, in great detail, in Chapter Two of my book. I can’t really summarize it here without reprinting most of the chapter, so I strongly suggest you either re-read that chapter or buy the book (the ebook version is only $9) so you can see why defending negative emotions is such a silly idea. The best summary I can make of my argument is that by about the age of 25, you’ve already felt every negative emotion known to human beings, many times each. You don’t need a reminder. I think you’ve got it. You don’t need to keep on being angry or lonely or sad or whatever for the rest of your life. That’s just stupid.
2. It’s “human” to feel negative emotions. When your girlfriend dumps you and you cry like a little bitch, it feels “human,” so it’s okay.
This is such a stupid argument I feel silly for even writing it. It feels just as “human” to feel positive emotions as negative emotions. So why focus on the negative ones?
3. You need to express your dark side (your rage, your anger, whatever), or else it will consume you or destroy you.
Two answers to that.
First, I agree that if you have rage, you should probably do something with it other than repressing it. However, my point is that you shouldn’t be experiencing the rage in the first place. Once you’re angry and trying to figure out what to do with your anger, in my opinion, you’ve already lost. The goal is to be happy, not angry.
Second, we’ve learned that “expressing” anger just makes you more angry. Pop psychology from the 70s and 80s said that if you’re mad, you need to go express your rage by screaming at a wall or something. Back when I was a small child in the 80s, my father, who was a psychologist, gathered me and my siblings together and showed us a piece of three-foot heavy garden hose that he had cut for us. He said that from now on, any time any of us were mad about anything, we were supposed to use that piece of hose to smash the couch as hard as we could, as long as we could, while screaming at the couch. He even demonstrated by whacking the couch a few times while screaming at it.
I’m not kidding. This was the kind of Societal Programming they filled kids’ minds with back then.
Since then, psychologists have learned that screaming your head off when you’re angry, just makes you more angry. For you guys who are married or have ever been married, you know what I mean. You have these long, drawn out, screaming arguments with your wife, and at the end of screaming at each other, are either of you happy? Nope, you’re still angry. Now you’re just angry and tired.
Again, I’m not saying you should completely repress your rage either. Some expression is probably warranted if the negative emotion is strong enough, but it’s a better idea to redirect your anger rather than just getting more angry. Any time I feel a little frustrated, I just redirect my thoughts to something happy, or my actions to something productive. This almost always works, and usually in seconds I’m not getting frustrated anymore.
4. Negative emotions spur you to solve problems and/or improve your condition.
Ah, but this is only partially true. Negative actions sometimes spur people to improve their conditions, but only with certain people and in certain scenarios. If you get angry about something, and it causes you to fix a problem, and then you’re rarely angry ever again, then I agree with you and that’s obviously a good thing. But if, after fixing your problem, you’re angry again about something a week later, and angry again about something else the week after that, and so on, then this argument is irrelevant.
So this school of thought is wrong in my opinion. Assuming you’re over the age of about 25 (at the oldest!), positive emotions are good and should be encouraged (both within yourself and others), negative emotions are bad and should be avoided.
School of Thought 2: Suppression of All Emotions, or at Least Desire
This is not a very popular school of thought, since it’s the opposite of today’s Societal Programming, but it’s certainly out there. Cloistered monks of various faiths, even to this day in Asia, will go to great lengths to reduce/eliminate all emotions (feeling them or showing them), or at a minimum reduce/eliminate desire, which is your core motivating engine. In the West this is called expressive suppression.
I’ll tell you my favorite story that debunks this concept, first told to me by prosperity consciousness guru Fredric Lehrman.
Fredric was hosting four Buddhist monks visiting from Asia. As he drove them into San Francisco for the first time, three of the monks were very excited and were exploding with animation. They completely freaked out and pointed out every little thing they saw. Cars, businesses, bridges, people, food, these guys went wild about everything.
One of the monks was just chill. He just stat back, relaxed, not really giving a shit, and was completely at peace.
Fredric asked him why he wasn’t freaking out at the city around him like the other monks. The monk explained that before becoming a monk, he was a decently famous Japanese actor. He was wealthy, traveled the world, had sex with lots of women, and experienced just about everything a person could experience. He enjoyed it, but felt he was missing out on his spiritual side. Then he chucked it all, became a monk, and found peace.
He went on to explain that the other three monks had been cloistered monks their entire lives. They had never been out of the monastery for any extended period of time, and had never really experienced the world around them. Now that they were seeing it for the first time, they were freaking out, but he had seen it all before, and was truly at peace.
Fredric noted from this story that one can’t just sit down and shut down emotions and/or desire without first experiencing those fun, wonderful, and perhaps more superficial things human beings crave, like sex, money, adventure, etc. Going out into the forest to be a hermit is not a good idea for growth…unless you’ve already “done it all.”
I wrote an article about this in relation to men and sex, about how men can get their crazy sexual desires out of their systems once they live out all of their their sexual fantasies. It’s here if you’re interested. I’m a very high sex drive man and always will be, and long-term sexual monogamy still doesn’t work, but I have to admit that since I’ve literally lived all of my sexual fantasies, I no longer have any desire to have threesomes with 19 year-olds (as just one example). I’m good to go now.
As humans, we are emotional creatures. Suppressing all emotions is probably not a good idea unless you’re a bizarre exception to the rule.
School of Thought 3: Maximize Positive Emotions, Minimize or Eliminate Negative Emotions
This is my school of thought, and one I believe in strongly. I still remember the very first time I was introduced to the concept. It was back in the early 1990s, when I was listening to a business cassette tape in my car. Speaking on the tape was my all time mentor, Brian Tracy. He began talking about emotions, and then he said,
The greatest discovery about negative emotions is that you don’t need them.
Brian went on to say that there is literally no need to experience any negative emotions at all. He said you should arrange your psyche and your life to the point where negative emotions aren’t a part of your existence. Prophetic words for me.
He didn’t go into detail on how to do this like I do in my book, and of course you can’t ever eliminate all negative emotions from your life. I’m a happy guy and negative emotions are very, very rare for me, by design. But someday my mom or dad will die, and yeah, I’ll feel bad when that happens. But that’s the point. How often do your parents die? How often does something this horrible or tragic happen in your life? The answer is, once every many, many years.
So if you feel sad/mad/angry/lonely/jealous once every several years, I think you win. If you’re feeling these feelings on a regular basis, all the god damn time, I think you’re losing at life. Assuming you’re over age 25 or so, there’s literally no reason to feel these negative feelings.
However, positive feelings are fucking great! You should encourage those at all times!
I make jokes about being a robot sometimes, but the reality is just the opposite, and those who know me personally can attest to this. I don’t have very many negative emotions, but I LOVE positive feelings and I’m swimming in positive emotions constantly, every day, all day long. I live a really good life. That’s what Alpha 2.0 is all about. I’m happy and smiling all day long like a big doofus, and I love it. Joy, happiness, excitement, anticipation, and positive, healthy sexual desire are my most common emotions on any given day.
So don’t treat negative emotions as good things, and don’t try to suppress all your emotions. Instead, embrace and cultivate your positive emotions as much as you can, and reduce or even eliminate all the negative emotions, as much as humanly possible.
That’s sounds pretty human to me.