Emotional control and loyalty to the self


Staff member
Jan 24, 2021
In any difficult social situation, we sometimes find ourselves spiraling downward in mood, and the more we become aware of it, the more speed and momentum this spiral seems to gain. This is especially the case when we feel obliged to maintain a mood that is above normal, that is, more positive than we might otherwise require of ourselves when alone or perhaps with friends or family. Seduction, public speaking, or simply testing the limits of your social capabilities could cause this to happen.

This spiral begins when we identify that we are not being ‘cheerful enough’ according to some idea of how things should be. Whether this idea is correct or not, the result is some level of stress and anxiety. This alone is neutral in terms of whether it helps us orient ourselves: sometimes it is a normal reaction to which we can respond positively – stress and anxiety are merely signals that we can respond to in a variety of ways. But sometimes we are simply unable to intuit the ‘correct’ level of positive emotion, that is, we are unable to instinctively express it. This could be because the concept of it is wrong and baseless, or because we are simply in a low mood as a natural part of our self-expression. In these cases, the stress and anxiety builds, unable to be relieved by the change in our emotional state that they were created to cause.

This buildup is of course accelerated by our perception of it and the repeated experience of being unable to force the change that we have decided that we want.

One way to deal with this problem is via meditation, by calming and relaxing ourselves, and bringing our mind to the present moment, allowing any negative emotion to run its course without rebirthing it in our bodily expressions and movements. But this is sometimes not feasible – meditation can easily cause too much of an ‘energy dump’ so that we may be calm but fail to be emotionally engaging – since emotions are contagious, if we are not able to feel any emotion strongly, it can be hard to create any kind of social or seductive momentum. And we all remember those times when we were most electric in our social interactions, when our energy pierced the space in front of us as we moved toward the things we wanted – were they times when we were zen-like? Probably not, at least not for me.

There’s another way to deal with this that has worked for me, and it follows the same principle of bringing our minds to the present as meditation does, but without requiring the same level of immobilization. And that is to simply focus on maintaining and validating our current state, regardless of what level it is.

Why does this work? To begin with, it makes us focus on what we are presently feeling. The problem with trying to bring ourselves to a more cheerful or happy state is that not only is the current state disregarded (which creates internal dissonance), but even a small step in the right direction (such as simply being in a slightly less low mood) is still not ‘enough’, because we are aiming at the nebulous concept of ‘happy’. So our mind is never satisfied to occupy itself with our current state at any time, and can only become free to do so when something conspires to distract us from thinking about it at all.

By focusing on our current state, we validate and actualize it, and bring forth all its good and bad expression which is real. And this brings us to the second reason why it works: because in doing so we show loyalty to ourselves, which is fulfilling. We focus on supporting and maintaining a self that actually exists, not some externally imposed idea of a self that we ‘should’ be (that is in fact not our own spontaneous desire). In other words, we avoid betraying ourselves to those who would have us behave this or that way for whatever reason (their own satisfaction, it would seem). And this consequently brings forth the powerful bass emotions (what I call the ‘glowering’ emotions) that have sufficient power to influence the world around us beyond the level of social conformity, and which can equally carry positive and negative intentions to their full conclusion.

And finally, this works because it is far easier to maintain something that exists, that is real and known, that you understand and are currently experiencing, than it is to aim at something that is merely a concept. Because the mind is always creating illusions, and of this we are even well aware, so that we often don’t even trust the value of the objectives that we conjure up for ourselves.

So next time you feel obliged to become happier or more cheerful to appease someone (whether it’s a girl you just met, or a group of people you feel might judge you), direct your mind to your current state, embody it and feel its presence in you, and ask yourself if it does not enhance you more than whatever you were aiming for, and whether it is not more capable of meeting reality than the self that they wished you to become. And when you look up, and she sees in your eyes the strength of your self-loyalty, and the stable solidity of your presence, you might be surprised to find that she needed it even more than you did.