Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Fourth Paradox

So far we have covered the first three Paradoxes from Gretchen Rubin's Nine Paradoxes to Contemplate as You Consider Your Happiness Project.

Moving on to the fourth paradox we come to: Strive to be emotionally self-sufficient so I can connect better with other people. This is one that has been hard for me in
past but at the same time once you relies it and apply it to your life it can have a profound impact.

Emotional self-sufficiency is not being closed off and protective of how you feel. Instead it is taking responsibility for your emotional state. This happens in a few different stages, some of these may come naturally to you or they may not, even so being aware of them will help. The first stage is an acceptance of emotion, it is ok to be happy, it is ok to be sad, the same holds true for anger, rage, jealousy, joy, nervousness, pleasure, it is ok to feel. We can get in the trap of putting our feelings on hold, bottling up our frustrations and not dealing with our emotions. The second stage is to take control of our emotions, understand why we feel what we feel.

Emotional self-sufficiency is about being in touch with our emotions and not dependent on others to tell us how we feel. When we become comfortable with our own emotional state we can react and interact with the emotional states of others with ease. This happens because we can experience their emotional state without it become our emotional state. Rather than empathizing, truly feeling the pain of others, we can sympathize, support and comfort others without damaging ourselves. This is not to say that there is no place for empathy but it does create risk. If we are not emotionally self-sufficient, we are in a situation where we are overly dependent on the emotional states of others to tell us how we feel. In this state one bad mood can ruin our day. Because of this we put up defenses, we do not allow ourselves to connect with people. On the other hand if we are acting sympathetically we can touch them emotionally without it rubbing off on us. We can feel bad for them without feeling bad for ourselves.

It may seem that I am focusing on the negative emotions here. However if we understand how to connect with others we will find more joy, love and happiness in our own lives.


Cait said...

While I agree that one must be responsible for their own emotional states, I really strongly disagree with the motion that sympathy is better than empathy. Sympathy is an empty sentiment and when you empathize you seek to understand and connect. Good social interactions just don't happen through sympathizing.

I think it's more important to learn to recognize how interactions with others might be affecting you mood and learn to cope and effect your own mood through cognitive and behavioral strategies. We can't be putting fence up to protect our selves.

Tess The Bold Life said...

Emotional boundaries are needed in order to separate my feelings and needs from somebody elses. It took me a long time to learn not to feel bad because my children feel bad.

Quinn said...

cait- I think there is a place for empathy and a place for sympathy. I do not belive the sympathy is empty. Sympathy is feeling for some one empathy is felling with some one. I think it is possible to understand how someone is felling without feeling it our selves. We may have felt that way in the past and can connect to that feeling but this is still sympathy not empathy. When we empathise we have a new emotion stimulated in ourselves because the emotion of the otherpersone is so close to us, whether by relationship or shared circumstances. The perseptionthat sympathy is empty comes from the terms overuse and degradation by society. What creates emptiness is the insincerity of most people when they profess sympathy.

Cait said...

Quinn-- you are probably right about this. But only just this once, ok?

Quinn said...

Cait-- I won't tell any one don't worry

Travis Alexander said...

You can't rely on others for happiness. You must create your own.

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