Monday, October 18, 2010

Choosing Emotions

What if your emotions are your choosing?
What if you could choose when you want to feel sad, or happy; angry or weird? What if all of emotions and thoughts are just an independent illusion with no direct correlation with the 'real' world and its events? Well, that would have been wonderful, won't it? With your emotions at your disposition, you could choose to be happy whenever you can, even when the whole world pits itself against you.

Well, what if they really are? Guess what, I think they are.

It was about 4 months back that I discovered this simple fact. My emotions are a matter of choice - they are just a bunch of simple illusions, that I am free to play with. As my anecdote goes, I was pitted in a very frustrating and grave situation; which co-incidentally was a replica of a similar situation that happened to me some time ago. Back then, the scene wrecked me off my nerves and rewarded me with a spell of three days of angst, frustration and anger.

This time, maybe because I was a bit preoccupied when the situation presented itself, it was a while before the picture percolated down through my senses, into the sphere beneath my consciousness. And quite unintentionally, I had already pondered over the situation for quite a while and made my choice that it did not deserve to chunk away a share of my emotional energy.

Or, put simply; a very bad thing happened to me, and I chose to remain passive. Result: The next week, I spend happy as ever, if not happier.

This was when I started to get the idea that emotions were really a matter of choice. But this was no more than an ambitious hypothesis; and like any hypothesis - mathematical, physical or philosophical needed further evidence to prove it right. The only test subject I had in disposition, was, alas, myself.

Without elaborating on the testing process -- which for an outline, involved attempting to be happy with another disarming situation, attempting to stay grave when I could blow my head in elation, and a myriad of smaller tests -- instead - let me tell you my findings - that emotions really are a matter of choice. I could really handpick my emotions, even when they bore no perceivable coherence with the event-horizon surrounding me.

What then, is happening in the with all of us usually? I think, its just that we are unaware of the choice. We are making our choices without even realizing it. Of course, how are we supposed to choose, if we didn't even know the choice existed, in first place?
However, there is another, more subtler reason why our emotions evade us, and ends up getting the better of us; this one a lot more difficult to handle. This is not about not realizing the choice, but being 'powerless to choose'. There are moments when you are just to tired to make your stance, or you don’t care - and let the events make the choice for you. The classic example is 'numbness', when essentially all you do is spent your days detached - good days and bad may alternate in front of you, without you noticing. All you do is exist and watch, without involving, yourself anchored in some remote delirium. You will know you can end this whenever you choose to - all it takes is a hearty laugh; but you won’t make the choice, you won’t want to.

It's this situation that's the hardest to handle. Here, the choice won't matter. It is really no different from having no choice at all - worse in fact - you will bear the additional burden of knowing about the existence of a choice, which will clobber your already tattered soul even further.
I cannot prescribe a perfect solution to this situation - maybe presence of mind, focusing hard enough can get you out. I myself couldn't find a solution, a way out, since I got caught in such a pit over two months ago; and to this day since then, my life and thoughts are more a compromise, a deal stricken with the numbness.

However, such situations, I guess, present themselves only sparingly, and for the larger share of your life, you should be able to really choose your emotions without much trouble.

Closing note - choose your emotions. When you give up the choice, even for an instant, the subsequent course your subconscious is made to trace could get too wild to bring back in control.


  1. Okay, remember MONTHS ago when I said I was going to go read the blogs of people who comment on my blog?

    I'm just not getting around to it. Seriously.

    Anyway, I was so involved in this post that I opted to comment before reading another post or two to get a "feel" for your blog.

    Have you ever read Vonnegut's _Timequake_? (Yeah, I hate trying to correctly put a book title without fancy italics or underlining as an option...) There's a condition called Post-Timequake Apathy in there, which he says people have all the time, and you sort of descirbed that very thing here.

    Also, I read somewhere (which makes it at minimum a probably-spurious factoid already--the imfamous "read somewhere") that the physical side of emotion lasts a ridiculously short time. I think of that whenever I have to choose a different emotion.

    But it's hard work!

    Okay, I'm off to read another post or two on your blog...

  2. Hey there.. :)
    First of all, thanks for dropping by and taking time to read my blog.

    Yup, I do remember that blog post, but to be frank; I didn't expect you to turn up now, after 5 months, I'm not hiding my surprise. :)
    In fact, I was off the blog-scene for these months - I've neither posted or read any blog in that period - I was "hiding" from my own troubled mind, except for some occasional post on Facebook.

    Now, I haven't read 'Timequake'; what I've done is, however, look up this title on Wikipedia - and since I'm pretty attracted with the synopsis, I'm putting it on my reading list.

  3. Well, once you get around to it, I hope you enjoy it. I don't know if it helps if you've read a lot of other Vonnegut or not. I have, so there's that... Meaning, I have no idea what you should do with that information, other than allow it to take up whatever space in your mind it has currently taken up, and move on.

  4. Um... where are you that this thing thinks I'm posting some 10.5 hours in the future? It's just after 4:00 in the afternoon here...

  5. Yes Mark, this is a fact I always wanted to tell you - it may sound weird, but so it is - it's not strange that your comment-timestamp showed the future. I belong at a place called "Chronotopia", set in your future. :-O

    Yeah, I know, it's a poor joke - but I still get points for trying, I hope. It's simply that I belong to India, the GMT +5:30 timezone. Right now, it's 7:34 in the morning here.