The Theory of Relativity Applies to Emotions

Vanessa Torre

Opposite reactions are still equal

There is an inherent flaw in emotional logic. It stems from the fact that a good number of people hear those two words together and it does not compute. Emotions and logic are two great tastes that do not taste great together.

I am a highly sensitive person who has a high IQ. I have no idea what Myers-Briggs category this put me into or what psychological term there may be for it. I do know that on most days I feel like it makes me one thing: a little weird.

My feelings have to make logical sense. Welcome to my overthought, self-help steeped world. If you meet me on a street, I am the lady wandering around muttering, “My feelings are valid” to myself like a crazy person.

The difficulty is that the actions of others need to make sense to me, too. I don’t have a resting bitch face. I have a resting “why the hell would you do that?” face.

I struggle with all of this for one reason. People don’t take ownership of how their actions affect other people’s emotions unless one thing is present: joy.

We love to make people happy and then put our flag in that mound of happiness and declare it our doing. We’ll own someone else’s happiness every day and twice on Sunday. We’ll tell everyone about it.

What we don’t do is take that same flag and stick it into a big steaming mess we’ve created as a means of showing everyone, “Look at some damage I did with my latest transgression!”

It doesn’t work this way.

There is what I call the Emotional Theory of Relativity. Making someone feel happy is equal on the scale of importance as making someone feel its emotional opposite.

I am a huge proponent of owning one’s stuff. It’s not acceptable for us to take ownership of the actions that bring forth good feelings without also acknowledging ownership of the bad feelings that come along, as well. Selective ownership should not apply to emotions.

I understand this flies in the face of what we’re traditionally taught about emotions. I have lost count of the number of times I have heard someone say, either to me or someone else, “I am not responsible for your feelings.” Well, yeah. You kind of are. If you do something stupid and hurt someone, acknowledging that is a big sign of emotional intelligence.

I don’t mean to say that other people control our emotions or that we can blame all of our pain on other people. But, if someone hurts us we have every right to feel like that emotion is brought forth by more than our own brain.

You don’t get to gloss over your effect on other people and turn it into a well curated emotional Instagram feed with nothing but images of happiness.

Hurting someone doesn’t make us bad people. It’s going to happen. None of us are so self-aware as to assume we have only good intentions that bring people joy. We make mistakes.

Making someone feel hurt should not be a hit-and-run accident. You need to stick around to look at the damage. You need to own up to what you did to made that fender fall off. It’s the other person’s job to fix the fender. The least you can do is give them a hand.

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Flaming pinball, nerd, music lover, wine snob, horrible violin player. No, she won’t stop taking pictures of her drinks. IG: vanessaltorre Twitter: @vanessaltorre

Phoenix, AZ

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