How Hollywood Got Feelings All Wrong

I used to pretend I didn’t have feelings. For real.

I would even tell people I didn’t. It is actually not unusual for teen boys. I know I work with several who have said the exact same things I used to say.

And we are all liars.

I was an emotional mess growing up. I would cry often. I would cry so much that when my mom dropped me off for Kindergarten class kids would bring me tissues when they saw me arrive because they knew I would be bawling. I am not even sure why I was so upset.

Maybe it was prophetic on my hate-love-hate relationship with school.

I had a counselor (not the school kind) tell my problem was “stuffing” my feelings. Which I guess is about the same as “bottling them up inside”. I didn’t want to admit that he was right.

Fellings are uncomfortable.

Well they can be when you don’t know how to deal with them. Anyone who is in the business will tell you about how anger is just an extension and mask of a deeper fear.

It’s true. The internet said so.

But honestly, anytime I have been angry I know it is because I am afraid of something. Afraid of loosing some on. Afraid of loosing something. Afraid I will get caught. Afraid people won’t like me. Afraid I will be found out. Afraid I was going to be in trouble.

I used to live in fear. Pretty much constant fear.

Jesus freed me from that. But more on him another time. Once I was free I learned about acceptance of feelings. Not some intellectual learning, but messy life lessons by going through situations that caused me to have to confront my feeling that I have in the past denied.

Now feelings are becoming popular. There is EI. Emotional Intelligence. It is “ the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.” The old me think that sounds like garbage.

The new me has learned. I used to have racing thoughts. Bad thoughts. Good thoughts. Confusing thoughts. Simultaneous thoughts. I was a mental mess. Then I got better. I started taking control of my thought life. I realized they are my thoughts and it is up to me to direct them. To change them. To work with them.

And controlling my thinking helps me control my emotions. I think when I am angry, “Why am I angry?”. Or when I am sad, “Why am I sad? What was the last thing I was thinking about? What was last said?” And from here I can determine if there is something I can change. If there is something I can do differently. Or if I just need to let it go.

Honestly the follow through is a constant work on progress. To appropriately handle my emotions and feelings (if there is a difference I don’t care to discuss) I have to just try to find what works each time I am faced with them. When I feel tired I nap. I used to ignore that. Now I love naps.

Mind you it does not always work out so easy.

I say all of that to say Day 73 of Claudia’s book Become An Idea Machine brings up emotions for me. I didn’t want to do it because it brings to light many issues I have. I don’t have a big network of close friends. I don’t like the way the past was at certain points of my life. I rather not call people (even though Claudia said don’t worry about that part, just thinking about it makes me emotional).

Oh yeah. The assignment for the day: List 10 people that you know but have not talked to lately and one thing you could say to cheer them up.

So naturally emotions ran high. So I ignored them. Then thought about them. Then confronted them. Then got over it.

1 Grandma P. — Tell her I love her and hope she is having a great day!
2 Kevin W. — It is all going to work out in the end.
3 Steve H. — It looks like things have turned out well for you. I am glad for you.
4 Andrew H. — Your relationship with Christ is greater than any of your sins.
5 Andrew S. — Thanks for being my friend growing up. You were awesome!
6 Tyler B. — I am fascinated with the direction you life has gone. Continue the search.
7 Keith B. — Congratulations! You’ve been through much but have improved much more.
8 Chad G. — Thanks for always being so kind. It means a lot to us.
9 Grace B. — God made you special and he loves you vary much.
10 Nick M. — Hope things are going good for you.

Hollywood got feelings all wrong because they make it seem like it is no big deal.

The movies evoke emotion but do not show the internal dialogue on feelings the way books can.

But they try.

I cried at the end of Rocky.


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