A Seaman's Quest

One man's search for truth


Learning to Feel

by Mark Seaman

Most people have no idea what I'm feeling.  I work hard to express a public image that is both rational and respectful of others. To casual acquaintances I appear to be reserved and somewhat socially awkward.  I find it difficult to make small talk and don't really like to meet new people.  I view myself as an intellectual with my action being motivated by reason.

But there is another side to my life that few get to see.  This is a place of emotional intensity.  I try to hold this experience private.  This Mark is excitable and passionate and completely rash.  In recent years I've begun to embrace this "Mark of Feeling".  I now believe that this side of my personality offers much to add to the "Mark of Reason" that I have always nurtured.

We like to believe that humans are rational beings with emotions, but it is far more accurate to see humans as emotional beings who rationalize.  By being attentive to our feelings we are closer to understanding what truly drives our behavior.  Our life course is driven by our emotions and justified by reason (to convince others that we are reasonable).

I've always seen myself as an intellectual who is constantly troubled my emotions.  I have spent a lifetime trying to battle the constant pull of intense emotions that threaten to pull me under.  Over recent years I have learned to embrace, and even welcome, these emotions as a core part of my life experience.  I've learned that the core emotions are hard-coded deep into our brain physiology and they are a giant part of what makes us human.

Strong negative emotions (like Anger, Fear, Sadness, and Shame) are a critical part of our human experience.  Suppressing  these is denying our humanity. Instead, we must channel these feelings into healthy motivation.  All of the dysfunction in our lives is the result, either directly or indirectly, of not dealing with our emotions properly. Mental illness is the cumulative result of all our specific dysfunctions cultivated over the course of a lifetime.

Time to emote!