Grokking feelings, feeling music…

I’m certainly a weird one.

Let me explain.

I don’t really feel things.

Or at least, the way in which I feel things appears to be different than most–more like the vast majority–of the people I know.  In specific, when most people interact with each other, there is an ongoing communication of emotional states that is conveyed along with any kind of verbal information through body language, tone, facial expressions, volume, etc.

In a nutshell-with a lot of people–when you say something to another person and you are attempting to “connect” with them in some way–whether to persuade you of a point–to bond with them–to relate an experience–a good portion of the “meaning” in this conversation/communication is intended to be of an emotional nature–i.e. that the person will then “feel” the way you do in some manner.

The amount of this kind of communication that is consciously controlled by the people involved varies, of course, with some people being much more self-aware on this score than others.  This kind of emotional connection can often even the entire point of holding such conversations for many people.  The entire–or perhaps maybe just the primary–intent of communication is, for them, focused on this kind of emotional translation and transferral.

Now it need not be always uni-directional–it can also just be a kind of mutual interaction–the sharing of emotional information with each other.

This is what I’m talking about–and it is something that I’m often atrocious at, because when I’m communicating with people–this kind of intent is usually absent from my mind.

I don’t feel conversations.

Instead–they are almost always just factually driven and they are an attempt by my mind to understand reality in a fairly objective sense.

Now–despite this natural proclivity of mine in my approach towards communication–I have at least become smart enough over the years to recognize that my approach to communication is the abnormal one.   I have also recognized that there is truly SIGNIFICANT information that is conveyed in this kind of emotional transferral–and to ignore that is not only limiting to understanding–it’s downright stupid.

Now–I’m not sure when this recognition became a fully conscious thought.  I know that I learned as a teenager to create various masks to represent myself to others to help make communication easier.  This was most likely a defensive reaction though.. and it was not without its problems–as it was primarily reactionary and without forethought.

Then–in my twenties–I was in a relationship that I like to think of as emotional bootcamp.  It started off well, but ended up being amazingly stressful and destructive towards my identity.  But, perhaps that destruction was necessary for me to realize that a chest full of masks was not a healthy way to go through life–and that I did have a core identity that I would not ever again deny.

Towards the end of my twenties, I came across MBTI type of stuff–and it was here, I believe, that I first started to acquire a kind of language and perspective to think about these things.  Now the MBTI system, in my view, is not ever going to be an accurate representation of the totality of reality or human behavior.  Not at all.  But it was a step towards letting me understand how my brain and consciousness approached the world in a certain way–and that others did so in different ways–and that to truly understand my reality, I would need to focus and learn about how these different approaches interacted and manifested in human society.

So–it was from that point on (although it was based on stuff I had also learned in emotional boot camp) that I really paid more attention to how to interpret and understand human communication–and to not just focus on the specific words and language that people used–but also to try to get beneath to understand the emotional stances and foundations from which people acted.  To create better models and simulations of how other people in my mind.

That was over a decade ago.

In that time, I’ve become a lot better at communication with others, and I think my friends would say that I’m pretty good at communication.  At the very least, I’m really persistent at it–and always willing to go further to understand something and to revise my understanding with new data–rather than trying to think that I’ve ever achieved some sort of permanent and absolute knowledge of the GRAND STATE OF THINGS.

But I still don’t feel these feelings that people often see at the heart of communication.

Instead–I grok them.  I observe how people are acting, what they’re saying, what their history is–and from these perceptions, I then reason out–using accumulated past experience and reflection–what might be going on.

This is a conscious effort–at least at first–and it is a synthetic one–in that I bring a lot of different aspects together and try to integrate it into a model that I can then evaluate.

But I don’t feel the model.

I know the model.

Because of this–I sometimes get things horribly, horribly wrong, and my errors are also compounded by the fact that while I don’t often consciously feel things–I do ACTUALLY have feelings–but they tend to arrive much later in my experiences–and their influence is usually more like a subtle, but steady shading of my thought processes.

I grok feelings.

At least, most of the time.

Perhaps this will give those who know me and read this a better sense of my actions.  Perhaps others who are like me in some way will see this in themselves.

In any case, this whole realization didn’t really coalesce until I also then realized that there are places where I do feel things. Where feelings are natural and even primary for me.

One such place is listening to music.  More than any other activity, listening to music can tap into my emotions and make me feel things without there being any conscious deliberation or analysis.   Songs can bring tears to my eyes, whereas other major emotional events–say like losing a job or getting hurt–don’t even come close to provoking sadness  or any other kind of emotional response.

I recognized more of the truth in this when I reflected on the fact that I really don’t care to analyze music or to hash out the different and fine points of genres or songs.

With songs–I like them or I do not.  Trying to convince me that I should or shouldn’t like something because of facts about the song–that seems utterly and fundamentally foreign to me.

I could give a rat’s ass about those things.  I like songs because I like them.

I like them because they make me feel things.


About Prof. Woland

I contain multitudes. Come meet us.
This entry was posted in Human Nature and Mind, Identity, Sociality, Uncategorized, Writing and Communication and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Grokking feelings, feeling music…

  1. Prof. Woland says:

    This song, for example, brings me to tears on a regular basis…

  2. HMS says:

    Prof. Woland, we’d like to invite you to become one of our Authors in Alexandria.

    In addition to posting on anything you wish, as you desire, you may of course mirror posts you’ve already written from here or elsewhere to gain a different or additional audience or for any other reason that appeals to you.

    If you think you might be interested, contact me through Alexandria or by return email via this comment and I’ll forward our formal invitations for you to look over and return if you decide to proceed.

    Come contribute your perspectives and opinions to the ongoing conversations there or, even better, start some new – and different – ones of your own.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    H. M. Stuart

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