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Sensible Sentiment

I used to think all feelings, except happy feelings, were evil. And then even some of those happy ones were just a bit too much, too.

Tears, even joyful ones, were immature. Being too expressive was foolish.

I believed emotional people were unstable and thus unable to clearly rationalize.

But then I broke. For two straight months, I couldn't think. The sudden onslaught of inward pain numbed me and my body reacted by going into shock from exposure to foreign feelings I'd once refused to know.

And for that short time I didn't care about what I'd once thought of emotions—they owned me and all reason and logic were gone.

But as my senses slowly returned, I hated myself for giving in to the emotions that gripped all of me. I'm not sure how I would have got through it if a couple of my friends hadn't told me over and over that, it was okay to grieve.

With my friends support, I let myself feel my way through those dark months and I let my brain just die for a while.

Though it was hard, it was what needed to happen in order for me to grow. It was what I needed so that I could learn to balance being both rational and emotional. Through that time I even coined a new phrase: Emotional Rationalist.

I learned how to both think and feel at once.

Or at least I hope so . . . I must admit that at times I still think that too many tears are immature. Now that I am stronger mentally than I've ever been in my whole life I sometimes fall back into the old habit of believing emotions are pure evil.

Yet as much as I think the world needs a rude awakening to more sensibleness and less sentimentality, I've learned that without balance too much of a brain and too little of a heart is equally dangerous, especially when despair crashes down on a person in such full force.

We shouldn't aspire to be cold-hearted Sherlock Holmes. The world needs compassionate, kind, thoughtful Mollies.

And being sentimental doesn't have to equate insensibility.

For even, the most rational of us have something and someone we hold dear. Aren't those things a show of sentiment at it's finest, despite the rational?

I would like to think of myself as more practical and minimalistic. I don't need much. I don't attach much value to objects. In fact, I love to throw away things. But . . . even I at my most logical moments have things that trigger both good and bad memories. I only have one object that brings bad memories, but I can't bring myself to throw it away so I keep it hidden. I know it's irrational of me and I keep trying to throw it away. But even to look at it is hard.

And despite my bouts of decluttering, and not having much to begin with, I also have several (useless) objects that bring pleasanter memories.

I'd like to think I've learned to be sensible with a little sentiment.

I'm starting to realize that the more life I live the harder it is to just not be attached to memories, good and bad.

But how is this good? Holding onto the past, whether good or bad, doesn't it just slow me down on my process of moving forward? Even if I have accepted that feelings are sometimes necessary to process, how can sentiment ever be good?

I decided to look into what sentiment and sensible mean.

Sentiment: a view of our attitude toward a situation or event; an opinion.
Sensible: (of a statement or course of action) chosen in accordance with wisdom or prudence; likely to be of benefit.

That definition of sentiment has rocked my view. If you were to ask me what it meant I'd say, "gushy emotions about things that don't really matter but matter to you just because" which might be true . . . but that dictionary definition actually seems a bit reasonable.

I'm all for opinions, as long as they are rational.

But . . . "Is it sentiment really sensible?"

My brain wants to scream no. Or maybe that's my heart? Haha, I can't tell the difference most days.

But reason and experience are starting to tell me that it's all right. Tears have their time, as does sentiment. Logic is good—but a little bit of love gives life to facts.

And this is how I've rationalized the emotions life has bombarded onto me. This is how my brain copes with an exploding heart. This is how I'm able to process grief and inexplicable joy.

Are you more of a rational or emotional person? If you're one, how do you cope with the other? 
Especially all of you sentimental people, I've always wondered how you manage to not rationalize everything? 

Comments

  1. I am a rational person and hate showing my emotions. However, I have learned that it is better to show emotions to close friends and family than to explode in a sea of suppressed emotion. So, I do try to think aloud with close friends so that I don't explode one day. I don't always succeed, but I am getting better at trusting others to still care even when I am an emotional mess. I use a journal to help, cling to Bible verses, and pray.

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    1. I journal a lot too, but normally too tired to share many emotions in my journal. I feel very blessed to have a couple trusted friends to share with. Without them I'd certainly explode a lot more. I think everyone has emotions, even the most "robotic" rational person. We just like to control them and not let them spill all over. Basically we don't like our feelings controlling us ... which is good, as long as the feelings are still processed ;)

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  2. I don't think reason and emotion are opposites, any more than faith and science are opposites: they're both good things given us by God, part of our human nature, tools that can lead us to him. Reason, of course, should always be in control; our decisions should be based on logic, not feelings. But I also believe it's important to feel, and to feel deeply. When we know something is beautiful, we should *enjoy* its beauty; likewise, when we feel an attraction (or an aversion) to something, we should take that emotion as a cue and analyze what it is that is good, true, or beautiful (or lacking) in it. It's all part of being an integrated human.

    That said, I'm a very emotional person, and that doesn't always serve me well in argument. I don't just focus on *why* I believe what I do, but how I *feel* about what I believe, and...well, you've seen me in action. :)

    Great post, Keturah! Very thought-provoking--and straight from the heart, to boot. :)

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    1. I really like how you say that they aren't opposites. I think the reason we often "feel" the two oppose is because often the two will oppose each other in direction ;) I really like everything you have to say though ...

      To be honest, I think of you as more of a rational person, so that surprises me ;p And yes I've seen you in action ... and always admired you. So you must not be "feeling" your way out half as bad as you think ;)

      Thanks, Megan! So glad you think so ;)

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  3. J+M+J
    I am actually quite inclined to agree with Megan. They are both gifts, and aren't opposed to one another. That being said, they must be used carefully. If you rely upon emotion and that alone, then you run on impulse and things will go downhill quite fast... while if you rely upon your reason and that alone, you'll be lost in the infinite mysteries all around us and will crash yourself trying to figure them out by human reason and that alone.
    If you were to judge by my literalness, you might come to the conclusion that I'm more of a rationalist... but that is actually quite opposed to truth. I'm about the most emotional gentleman you're ever likely to find.... (whether I want to be or not) As to being an emotional mess? That generally happens at the end of very tiring day, and I pity anyone around when it does....

    The Doorman.

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    1. I think I agree with you both that they don't have to be opposed ;) And that one shouldn't live by one alone, but of a balance of both.
      Well, I'd say you must still have a decent amount of rational in order to know how to be literal and thoughtful in arguments. And who isn't an emotional mess at the end of the day? Well, I'm more of a box of giggles. And yeah, I pity those who see me too, because I can be quite weird and scary ;p

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  4. It's strange, because I would say that I'm extremely sensitive and empathic, but at the same time I'm deeply practical. So I guess both? I'm idealist, but I also have a firm grasp of reality.

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    1. Well, it sounds like you're figuring out that thing called balance quite well ;)

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  5. Great title, by the way - it's really fun to say out loud. :P

    I've always thought of myself as a fairly rational person, and I've never liked when people show their emotions too much or expect me to show mine or have emotions about something that I just...don't. Haha. I think you should make your decisions based on logic, not feelings...but I also think the two are inextricably linked? Sort of as if truth was a drawing, and logic was the pencil lines, and emotions were the colors. For the most accurate representation, you need both. Colors alone are vague and it's hard to tell what they're saying or which way they're pointing; they need boundaries or they're overwhelming. But, like you said, love gives life to facts, right, and emotions give color and depth to truth. Sort of.

    Also, I've discovered that my antipathy toward sharing or showing my emotions, or other people baring their souls publicly, is kind of emotional itself. I can justify it rationally, but the root of it is an emotion, a (probably irrational) desire and value for privacy. I don't think people value their privacy enough, and I especially don't think they respect that other people sometimes value THEIRS. I used to think I hated emotions and didn't want to have them, but now I just don't want to SHARE them. Emotions are a good and important thing, but they're personal (to me at least), and I wish people would remember that more often.

    Thanks for this thought-provoking post, Keturah!

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    1. I thought it was fun to say, too!

      But wow ... this whole comment is amazing and I relate to it on so many levels. Love how you say logic is the lines and emotions are the colors. WOW. I think that sums it up so well.

      And yeah, I like my privacy too and hate being told to share more. I have to trust one to share with them, and if they pressure me .... well, they are only going to see more of a robot ;p

      Thanks for commenting, Sarah!

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  6. I'm not sure which I am. Both? I don't like being emotional, but sometimes it is just a part of life. I want to be rational, but I'm not always good at it. *shrugs* ;)

    astorydetective.blogspot.com

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    1. Haha, it sounds like you are BOTH. And none of the rest of us are good at it either ... just learning and figuring it out ;)

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  7. I'm an extremely emotional person. I often let my emotions control me and drive my decisions (which, depending on the situation can be a good or a bad thing) so I suppose in a way I'm not the most "rational" person but I'm also not unstable either haha For me, I first have to let myself feel the emotion(s) I'm feeling, process them and work through them and then sometimes talk it over with someone before finally being able to rationally and logically think through the situation and move forward from there. It sounds a lot more exhausting and a longer process than it really is haha However! That whole process is internalized most of the time. I hate crying or showing my anger and even sometimes my joy in front of strangers or even close friends. The only people that truly get to see me emotional is my family, so its weird cuz I probably come off as distant and emotionless when actually I am one of the most emotional people ever. :O Sorry, that was a really long response haha

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    1. Well, all rational people HAVE emotions ... they just choose not to show them in front of others and work through their emotions with friends or internally. So it sounds like you're more rational than you realize ;)

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  8. I've always been torn between being logical and emotional. I have a lot of empathy so I tend to be more emotional. It's interesting. I've broken a couple of times too, I think it helped me understand other people better.

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    1. Being empathetic and breaking is HARD. I think one would lose all their faith in people for a time.

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