Posts tagged rage
Giving in to Feel Good: The Place of Emotion Regulation in the Context of General Self- Control Author(s): Dianne M. Tice and Ellen Bratslavsky Source: Psychological Inquiry, Vol. 11, No. 3 (2000), pp. 149-159
the article goes on to quote some studies that basically prove that most of the time when people say they just couldn’t control themselves they actually can, they just choose not to on some level, primarily because they believe it will help them feel better. but it generally doesn’t. sometimes this has minimal consequences — light procrastination, breaking a diet — but sometimes it can lead to fatal violence.
they also note that attempting to repress or deny negative emotions doesn’t work either. the only thing that seems to work is acknowledging you’re feeling shitty and doing your best to just do the things you need to do anyway, because if you try to fix your emotions before fixing your life you’ll fail at both. this is pretty much in line with my experience.
on a personal level — my experience has been that talking about negative emotions (of which I have many!) is unhelpful except when it’s in the context of helping me understand what I’m experiencing. otherwise it’s just an obligation, one I profoundly resent. but there’s this widespread idea that the person needling you to talk about it is actually doing you a favour, that the mere act of discussing your emotions will help you move on. (side note: how’s that for incitement to discourse?)
there’s been a lot of study in the past decade or so on how the “talk about it” model of dealing with trauma or negative emotions is not just of questionable efficacy, but also profoundly Anglocentric — the idea that more openness, more discourse, a laissez-faire economy of knowledge is self-evidently healthy is very grounded in post-Enlightenment Western mentalities.
I’m also curious about how to reconcile all this with the political necessity of testimony, of bringing unspeakable experiences to light so they can be prevented in future. there’s often tension between the needs of individuals who’ve experienced a particular trauma and the needs of others or of the community as a whole. it’s kind of like negotiating content/trigger warnings — how do you balance the need of some to avoid retraumatisation with the need to open up space for others to be heard? or like — what’s best for the community as a whole might be someone speaking up about their experiences — but that act could have devastating personal consequences for them.
at the very least — I think people need to know about all this stuff. in particular, the idea that talking makes it better is so pervasive, so normalised, you’re really shamed and pathologised for not wanting or needing to talk about it. people need to know that catharsis a bit of a furphy — that you might indeed get some kind of personal benefit from discussing your experiences but it’s unlikely to come directly from the experience of telling.