I sent several "hey, so you missed our meeting, what next" emails this morning, catching up on my TODOs. (If you were one of them, please don't worry.) So I was just thinking about emotions and our attitudes and behaviors towards them, specifically in the context of relationships/interactions.

We can be "inside" of emotions, feeling them, and we can step "outside" of them as well - think of that as "thinking about emotions". (Same for feelings, but I'm going to just gloss over feelings vs emotions today.)

Most adults can do both of those things, as long as we are not flooded. Kids definitely don't start out with that difference: an emotion is just a thing you feel, and thinking about an emotion without feeling it seems impossible (before modeling others as being like themselves) or very unnatural. Before modeling emotions explicitly as things, we can only think about an emotion by recalling a situation where we felt that thing, which brings back the sensation of it.

I have gained a lot of experience in the last few years with taking a non-valenced, de-fused perspective on my emotions. Not all the time, but a lot of the time I can have both going at once: sensing my emotions and experiencing them directly, while also having an awareness of that emotional experience that's looking in from the outside and seeing the information transmitted by the body-and-lower-brain emotions. After all, emotions are just information. They are information which have native meanings and reactions built into our minds, but from an objective perspective they're just information.

There is no objective "good" or "bad" about a person feeling an emotion, from the outside of that person's experience and judgement. We can make meaning inside of our own experience by judging what it would be like to be that person feeling that emotion, but that still doesn't mean that an emotion itself has any objective valence. If a person says "I like feeling a sense of epic sadness" then, good for them. (Notice I said "good" there? Hard to avoid the language sometimes, but in this case I'm pointing out how their usage of "good" can be different than yours, and you can't say/agree that one person's evaluation is "correct".)

One of my kids is definitely in an avoidant mode of managing their emotions by avoiding them. Avoiding certain communications, certain people, or certain thoughts because of the emotions that would trigger in you is a common behavior pattern even for adults. "I didn't write back to them right away, and now I'm putting off responding to them because it's been too long and I'd have to confront the awkwardness" seems like something most of us are familiar with.

I find myself wanting to defuse these kinds of assumptions and "ugh fields" when I theorize that other people might be running into them. (Notice the "don't worry" in the first paragraph above?) Usually I go with the "it's okay" or "it doesn't matter" route, minimizing the emotion or the damage to my own experience. But I think I only do this because it's easier to convey. What I'd like to actually get across is that actually, yes I do/did care, but also I'm not attached to my emotions, don't suffer because of my feelings, and therefore don't judge/grudge based on experiencing a negative emotional valence. So is it "okay" that you missed a meeting? I dunno, I am okay myself pretty much no matter what you do, and you get to decide whether you are okay or not okay with whatever mix of responsibility or peace or shame or integrity arises for you in that situation.

I think people sometimes might express that as "I don't take things personally", but to me that doesn't actually get across the outside/defused perspective: One could get mad, then decide to forgive and forget, solely on the inside of that valenced emotional landscape. For me, it's not about adding some good to recover from the bad - it's more that that experience wasn't good or bad in the first place. It just was. Things just are. And so I do hope that you, too, can find the freedom of that non-valenced emotional perspective - and that nothing need to be avoided and we can stay in relationship with each other and reality at all times. ☮✌