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 Post subject: Emotional control in Momonism (and beyond)
PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 7:29 am 
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Recently I've tried to start cracking down on my negativity. It's been a problem I've had my entire life, something my companions would complain about, and I've felt often as if there's plenty of things to blame for it. Bad decisions, environment (being born and raised near Detroit, which isn't exactly known for being the most gleeful and glib place in the world), lack of parental support, poor financial situations and stress, health- there's a million things to blame being negative on that can convince myself it's an acceptable and reasonable place to be. The truth is it's not and it's a choice I make, albeit the easy and default choice for the longest time.

One thing I'm wondering is if truly accepting the Mormon theory of emotional control has created problems. I wonder this also since it seems as though ex-mormonism in general can be an extremely harrowing and negative experience for those we can see online (myself included). But you look at most that leave Mormonism behind, and they don't think a thing about it or let it bother them. For those who feel emotionally bound I've concluded it is a personal decision to be negative, and obviously being around or perhaps even seeking the company of others who do the same reinforces that this attitude is okay and reasonable. Seeking the company of those who do likewise can be a way to escape responsibility and reinforce that it's okay to blame an organization for challenges we're facing or how we feel about them. Again that's not everyone who leaves Mormonism or even most, but some of us struggle more than others.

There is a debate about the no control theory of emotions vs total emotional control (or that all emotions are a decision we make, hand in hand with our attitude). In my experience whenever two sides are being hotly debated for a very long time there is no right side and wrong side. I generally think we can control our emotions and attitude, but think there is wisdom and truth to the no control theory as well.

Mormonism adopts a no control theory of emotion by introducing positive emotions as a passive experience from the Holy Ghost (whenever anyone feels happiness, joy, peace etc, it's taught that those feelings come from the mormon-aligned holy ghost). You don't control the Holy Ghost, and in that way you don't control those feelings. You must change your actions, and when you are living "properly" those feelings come. Of course this is only re-inforced in a Mormon social structure. When you feel anger, unhappiness, restlessness, anxiety, impatience, etc, those feelings are from Satan or the 'natural man'. Once again with negative emotions being passive, less about a decision you make to feel that way and more about influence.

I wonder if anyone else has seen this. At least for me I feel emotionally immature often, and while I don't blame Mormonism for convincing me to believe that emotions are a passive experience, I don't think it's helpful for those whose transitions out turn out to be more difficult and in need of support.

I guess what I'm saying is Mormons are social creatures and often have a need for emotional support. Those transitioning out often feel the need to have a support structure as well since emotional maturity and accepting personal responsibility for the way we feel is something that takes time and discipline to acquire. Those born and raised in Mormonism often don't have that if they've been buying into and following the system right, and when we continue to blame Mormonism and circumstances for how we feel we're not learning or growing. I can sort of see the negativity and being stuck in limbo as a painful place to be in for many transitioning, and I think blaming problems in Mormonism excessively can interfere with owning up to who we are and how we feel.

Again this is just my experience and may well not apply to anyone else. But I feel like I kind of 'get' where a lot of those online who have a lot to complain about are coming from, so I was thinking maybe this difficulty in accepting and learning emotional responsibility might be somewhat of a shared experience.

I'm thinking about this since sometimes I can have trouble at work- blaming others, wanting to retreat from challenging situations, not feeling sociable, etc. That's where it really seems to creep out most, so in trying to learn to maintain a PMA this is just one of the thoughts I had (which is in essence blaming Mormonism, valid or invalid, for my own shortcomings).

ETA: (Please excuse the narcisstic tone but I just don't want to sound accusatory towards Mormonism or others struggling with their own transition!)

Thoughts?

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 Post subject: Re: Emotional control in Momonism (and beyond)
PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 8:15 am 
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Detroit can't be so bad if Rodriguez came from there. ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXU386zsQYs

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 Post subject: Re: Emotional control in Momonism (and beyond)
PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 8:39 am 
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I think there's something to what you're saying. I hadn't really thought of the idea that you aren't responsible for your emotions, but I think it might be more subtle than that.

In the church, having good feelings means you have allowed the spirit into your life through your choices and actions and faith; bad feelings mean you have given yourself over to the enticing of the devil. But you're right that in some ways that belief may lead us to externalize our feelings and blame what we feel on everyone and everything except ourselves. I'll have to give that some thought.

One thing I am sure of is that the church teaches us that negative emotions (anger and hurt, but not guilt) are bad and from the devil, so it's wrong to have those feelings. Speaking for myself only, I never learned how to express my negative emotions in healthy ways.

Anger and hurt are two very natural emotions that are entirely appropriate in many circumstances. Most people learn to express their negative emotions and successfully handle them. But I didn't because I was taught that such emotions were always wrong. So, when I felt angry, I suppressed it. When I was hurt, I pretended I was fine.

When I finally acknowledged that the church wasn't true, a lot of that suppressed emotion came out, much of it in unhealthy ways. Of course, this was proof positive to some Mormons I knew that I really was a bitter apostate. I'm grateful that a good therapist was able to help me acknowledge my emotions and then deal with them in healthy ways.

I know I'm rambling, but the church in some ways treats members like children, and many of us have a hard time reaching emotional maturity. I probably have a long way to go still, but I am getting there.

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 Post subject: Re: Emotional control in Momonism (and beyond)
PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 8:44 am 
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gramps wrote:
Detroit can't be so bad if Rodriguez came from there. ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXU386zsQYs


Oh.. yeah... that guy :smile:

The general area isn't as bad as the media makes it out to be. My cousin and his wife bought a cozy two story house for just over $40K in a tight-knit pier community not 100 feet from Lake Erie. Not the place to settle down if you want lots of 'things', but it's very relaxed and doesn't take a lot of money to get by.

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 Post subject: Re: Emotional control in Momonism (and beyond)
PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 8:58 am 
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Runtu wrote:
I think there's something to what you're saying. I hadn't really thought of the idea that you aren't responsible for your emotions, but I think it might be more subtle than that.

In the church, having good feelings means you have allowed the spirit into your life through your choices and actions and faith; bad feelings mean you have given yourself over to the enticing of the devil. But you're right that in some ways that belief may lead us to externalize our feelings and blame what we feel on everyone and everything except ourselves. I'll have to give that some thought.

One thing I am sure of is that the church teaches us that negative emotions (anger and hurt, but not guilt) are bad and from the devil, so it's wrong to have those feelings. Speaking for myself only, I never learned how to express my negative emotions in healthy ways.

Anger and hurt are two very natural emotions that are entirely appropriate in many circumstances. Most people learn to express their negative emotions and successfully handle them. But I didn't because I was taught that such emotions were always wrong. So, when I felt angry, I suppressed it. When I was hurt, I pretended I was fine.


It's hard to learn to handle negative emotions in a healthy way, when the reason you've believed you're having them for years is you're not following Mormon teachings or rules well enough. You're having a bad day because you didn't read the Book of Mormon this morning or pray long enough. You have bad influences such as friends that swear or listen to certain types of music. You overheard or participated in a conversation that didn't 'invite the spirit'. You're behind on your tithing or haven't gone to the temple this month. It's always SOMETHING ELSE, and when you're feeling down regularly you can go crazy looking for that thing that's wrong in your life to fix it. I think that's called scrupulosity, which is actually reinforced as a positive thing in religion. It can drive you crazy.

We are not taught to accept responsibility for our negative feelings so we can change them. For me a positive attitude is 1000x more difficult to preserve all day than a negative one, and half the challenge is gone by ACCEPTING responsibility instead of blaming it on something or someone else.

wise man Runtu wrote:
When I finally acknowledged that the church wasn't true, a lot of that suppressed emotion came out, much of it in unhealthy ways. Of course, this was proof positive to some Mormons I knew that I really was a bitter apostate. I'm grateful that a good therapist was able to help me acknowledge my emotions and then deal with them in healthy ways.


That is especially frustrating and I think everyone knows what it's like when the group that used to be leaned on for emotional support provides negative feedback and never directly. It provides enough pressure to really force you in all the way or out all the way.

Runtu wrote:
I know I'm rambling, but the church in some ways treats members like children, and many of us have a hard time reaching emotional maturity. I probably have a long way to go still, but I am getting there.


Very well said. Ramble anytime brother!

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"I prefer a man who can swear a stream as long as my arm but deals justly with his brethren to the long, smooth-faced hypocrite." -Joseph Smith


Last edited by Harold Lee on Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:18 am, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Emotional control in Momonism (and beyond)
PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:11 am 
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Harold Lee wrote:
gramps wrote:
Detroit can't be so bad if Rodriguez came from there. ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXU386zsQYs


Oh.. yeah... that guy :smile:

The general area isn't as bad as the media makes it out to be. My cousin and his wife bought a cozy two story house for just over $40K in a tight-knit pier community not 100 feet from Lake Erie. Not the place to settle down if you want lots of 'things', but it's very relaxed and doesn't take a lot of money to get by.


Sounds perfect to me! And don't these two live there as well?

http://de.video.search.yahoo.com/video/play?p=true+romance+youtube&vid=14b120d48c8387206585a3b999b51402&l=1%3A57&turl=http%3A%2F%2Fts1.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DV.4673191864503616%26pid%3D15.1&rurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DW5-CyWvTY-A&tit=true+romance+diner+scene&c=12&sigr=11aq315fu&ct=p&age=0&b=31&tt=b

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 Post subject: Re: Emotional control in Momonism (and beyond)
PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:24 am 
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gramps wrote:


Just can't substitute great screenwriting and acting with special effects.

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 Post subject: Re: Emotional control in Momonism (and beyond)
PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:28 am 
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I recommend you not "transition out". Either make a clean quick break or stay in because you still know it's true.

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 Post subject: Re: Emotional control in Momonism (and beyond)
PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:49 am 
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bcspace wrote:
I recommend you not "transition out". Either make a clean quick break or stay in because you still know it's true.


If the latter option is truly only conditional upon "knowing 'it' is true", then that is forcing upon them only one option if they can't oblige themselves in full self-honesty: leave. It is an enormously challenging place to be if you're not ready for it.

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