Absorb Every Feeling? Integrate Every Thought?

Probably not the best idea.

Here is a quote I think about a great deal that gives a hypothesis about why:

“…[T]he mind is divided into parts that sometimes conflict, like a small rider sitting on top of a large elephant. The rider represents conscious or controlled processes, the language-based thinking that fills our conscious minds and that we can control to some degree. 

The elephant represents everything else that goes on in our minds, the vast majority of which is outside of our conscious awareness. These processes can be called intuitive, unconscious, or automatic, referring to the fact that nearly all of what goes on in our minds is outside of our direct control… 

The rider and elephant metaphor captures the fact that the rider often believes he is in control, yet the elephant is vastly stronger and tends to win any conflict that arises between the two.

…[T]he rider generally functions more like the elephant’s servant than its master in that the rider is extremely skilled at producing post hoc justifications for whatever the elephant does or believes. Emotional reasoning is the cognitive distortion that occurs whenever the rider interprets what is happening in ways that are consistent with the elephant’s reactive emotional state without investigating what is true.

The rider then acts like a lawyer or press secretary whose job is to rationalize and justify the elephants preordained conclusions rather than to inquire into or even be curious about what is really true.”

The Coddling of the American Mind, Chapter 2, emphasis added

So. Shall we absorb every feeling and integrate every thought?

Far better to cultivate the ability to “note” our thoughts and feelings and grow the prudence to hold onto only what is helpful.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s