Emotionally Unstable? Thinking Too Much? Is it You or Your Brain?

“But my way of writing is rather to think aloud, and follow my own humours, than much to consider who is listening to me; and, if I stop to consider what is proper to be said to this or that person, I shall soon come to doubt whether any part at all is proper.” –  Thomas de Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium Eater

I get the feeling that I sometimes sound like an emotionally unstable wreck in my posts. Which is a fairly accurate assessment if I do come across that way because when it comes to my writing, I fuel my words with emotion.

I write with more passion when in the grip of passion, and I think it makes for a more interesting read. It definitely makes for a more interesting write as I never know where I’ll end up. My posts meander, and perhaps to others it is all a load of dross, but to me every tangent is connected and is a source of a piece of information, which when put together forms a complete puzzle… well, sometimes there are still pieces missing, but knowing their approximate design and shape helps to locate them.

My mind is a question generator. I never lost that part of my childhood self who is intensely curious and asks a million questions. It drives other people crazy, but it makes my life worth living, so their sanity is a necessary sacrifice to my selfish quest to stay alive and enjoy it. I’m not really joking. However I don’t expect others to answer my questions, it’s just that others never listen to that bit, they hear a question and react to the prompt to provide an answer before they hear the smallprint. Perhaps I should put the smallprint before the question. Even so, the reflex to answer a question is very strong in most people.

Why do you think that is? What’s your favourite colour? Think of that colour and tell me a story about it. Does it trigger a memory? Is that memory pleasant or unpleasant? Do you find yourself thinking of answers to these questions? Are you trying not to think of answers to these questions?

The mind is a fascinating place. What is it? Where does it come from? Why do we think? What are thoughts?

I am enamoured of the concept that most thoughts are simply the way the brain gets oxygen to move around its labyrinth. I love brain studies. I love all the ideas which scientists who study such an intriguing organ come up with. The theory that cravings are how our brain gets us to supply the body with nutrients which it needs to regulate and sustain itself. Chocolate for serotonin, salt for dopamine.

What about emotions, what are they? What use do they have for our intricate system?

And what an intricate system it is! There is a gadget in the Science Museum in London which puts you in charge of keeping your body alive. Not really, but hypothetically. And you only have to survive for one minute. You have to move levers and punch buttons to keep your heart pumping and other essential stuff going. I became obsessed with beating this thing. Keeping myself alive. I do love challenges. I was only in there for a couple of minutes, because there were others who wanted a go, but it felt like hours. I killed myself so many times and within a second each time. Thank goodness the brain doesn’t need my help, it does so much… WOW! Did I really need a gadget to prove that to me? Obviously I did!

What really struck me the most about that experience, which was many years ago and I have no idea if that gadget is still there, is that the mind thinks it is better than the brain. At least mine does. Where does it get such arrogance from? Is the mind not a small part of the brain? Or several small parts scattered around the great pink labyrinth?

Why do we think we know what is best for our bodies, when if we were actually in charge of keeping ourselves alive, we would fail in a second. We try to control our diets, but we don’t really know what we are doing, even if we think we do because we’ve done research. Have you seen how often research contradicts other research!?! One minute we should drink red wine for the good health of our heart, the next minute red wine will kill us if we have just one drop of it!

Then there is all that stuff we do or don’t do because it is going to make us die young, possibly from an excruciatingly painful death, yet what do we do with all the time alive which we have, apart from killing it and wasting it while we are waiting for something. We also do a lot of living in fear of dying. The Carpe Diemists think they have this life thing sussed, but how often do they do things which they don’t really want to do but feel they have do to seize each moment of each day.

The human mind is so… bizarre!

So, we don’t really know what thoughts are, other than what we think they are, but what is thinking that and how do we know it knows. Yes, paradox central! Speaking of paradoxes… what about gender? How does gender affect our minds?

I did one of those tests which determines whether your brain, as in mind, is male or female. I tend to think that I am more masculine in my approach than feminine. The test told me that I was gender balanced. Which means it doesn’t know what sex my brain is. I, on the other hand, think that I was wrong in my previous assessment. I am not masculine at all, I am very feminine. Why the rethink? Mostly an accumulation of data compiled through observation of the communication and emotional styles of men and women.

It occurred to me that women are more cerebral… I can’t actually pronounce that word unless I say each syllable in the style of Count von Count from Sesame Street… about their emotions than men are. WAIT! Wait before you get all knickers in a twist on me. Hear me out, then you can go crazy in the comments. Or bash out a comment, get it out of your system, then hear me out. Or hold it in and then use it as inspiration for a post. Whatever you need to do to satisfy your needs, do it for yourself… because I am not going to do it for you.

What is the main complaint men have about women and women have about men when it comes to communication and emotions?

Men think women talk too much about their emotions. Women think men don’t talk enough about their emotions.

What is talking? Yes, it’s an action, but what kind of action? I see it as a cerebral action, as to talk the mind has to translate everything it wants to discuss into words. Emotions are not in words naturally, they are energies, internal weather, rushes of feeling, chemicals and physical reactions. To talk about them they must be identified, classified, labelled, analysed, and turned into words which in theory describe them. This causes added mix ups as we don’t all use the same emotion-to-words translating system.

My sad may be your angry, my angry may be your bitter, my bitter may be your envy, and so on. We’re using the same word but we mean different things. I know someone who says “I’m hurt” all the time about everything, they either have a limited emotional vocabulary, or it is a catch all for when they are confused about their feelings. I just translate their “I’m hurt” into “I’m feeling sorry for myself and making it your problem”. I’ve become callous with advancing age… or maybe I was always callous, I’m just admitting it to myself and embracing it now. The more aware I am of my mortality, the less I want to generously give it to others, especially when others don’t appreciate it, and just want more, and more is never enough.

Women are considered very adept at communicating their emotions, at least women think they are and have convinced some men of this, or at least they have convinced men that men are not good at it, and they tend to do this most often using words.

Women think about their feelings all the time. They enjoy talking about their emotions, more than they do about many other subjects. They do this as a way to create bonds between other women, to understand and be understood, which can lead to complicating what was a simple matter, and to drive men crazy… not really, but it can drive a man crazy. They want to bond with men the same way they bond with women, and not being able to do so causes them much grief, so they try to force men to bond this way which causes men much grief.

Men do not talk about their feelings, not in the way women do. Men have intense emotions which they often express physically rather than verbally. This is actually a purer expression of emotion, undiluted by thought, it is a rush of something intangible which courses through the body and the body expresses it. Which is why men are such great builders, inventors, artists, creators, chefs, sportsmen, and many other things which need a focused physical dedication to a task with the added intensity of raw emotional energy fuelling the physical action.

Sure, women can do all the physical things, the pursuits and professions which men do and do it well… yes, yes, sometimes even better than men. This isn’t about gender equality or inequality. It’s just a thought, and it’s one which hasn’t matured into an opinion… yet! And it really isn’t about gender, I’m just using gender to understand something about the brain, thoughts and emotions.

Women are great at classifying, labelling, categorising, and sub-categorising emotions. They analyse their feelings, discuss each fluctuation, and create a series of responses to go with each one. Many of the responses are scientific. When a woman is depressed, sad, upset, she may cry. Crying releases stress, our brain knows this and prompts tears in a stressful situation. She may reach for a sugary treat. Low blood sugar can cause irritability, nervousness, feelings of sadness, depression, and something known as exaggerated concerns. Our brain knows this, and stimulates a sweet craving. She may retreat from the world to a dark room, curl up under a blanket, and sleep. Tiredness can trigger emotional sensitivity and confused thinking. Our body restores itself during sleep. That sleep on a problem cure is not unfounded.

I didn’t get enough sleep last night. I am feeling frazzled. If I apply too much thought to any of the emotions which rise up today, and quite a few have, I could turn them into something which they are not. A mental drama of an emotionally volatile kind. All I need is to sleep, then these frazzled nerves will be fine. No drama needed as it is not real, it’s just a tired body and an exhausted mind seeing things which are not there because I am caught between waking and sleeping due to being sleep deprived. Those hallucinations are not weird enough to be unreal, which is what makes them potentially troublesome to myself and others. So, I must remain aware of this potential, and stay detached.

Many of the ways which we use to deal with feelings are the body’s way of getting nutrients which it can use to produce chemicals needed to balance the system. It is prompting us to get the healing we need to restore ourselves. If we think too much, we interfere and can upset the natural healing. If we refuse to give our body the food it is craving, such as sugar, or the sleep it needs, or the stress release method of its choice, then we may aggravate a situation, and create a drama where one does not need to exist.

In fact our tendency to solve emotional issues with food and drink is second nature to us, we don’t even consider what we are doing, we just do it. But is it us thinking this through, or is it our brain directing us to a source of fuel for it to sort itself out, which will sort us out.

And the healing our brain seeks does not always comes through food. Listening to music affects our brainwaves. Watching TV stimulates our neural pathways. Going for a workout changes the chemical composition in our body, flushing out toxins, lowering levels of certain nutrients, triggering release of chemicals, some of which are very euphoric. The brain is a body fixing genius! A holistic therapist extraordinaire!

So, how much of what we feel is us feeling it, how much of what we are thinking is us thinking it, and how much is it due to our brain and its intricate chemical balance and imbalances? Is it you or is it your brain?