And now we have
a Handy Guide to Emotions here at prettyfedup.com for no other reason
than I feel like giving you one.
chemicals your body produces for the purpose of helping you make
decisions. These chemicals are based on the Compare and Contrast
Analysis of the Pictures in Your Head. Like this:
At any given
moment in time your body is humming along contentedly or not so
contentedly generating pictures.
The most basic
picture it generates is What I Think Is Going On Now or the
Current Reality Picture. For example, if you are sitting in a screenwriting
seminar in some little plastic seat, your body will say to itself
"Well my goodness, it looks like we are in a screenwriting
seminar." It will note the plastic seats and the tables and
the podium where the screenwriting teacher will stand, and the glasses
of water and the lights and the microphone and the other seminar
attendees and it will say to itself, 'yup, just as we expected we
are at a screenwriting seminar.'
Once it has
generated the Current Reality picture it will generate more pictures
that it finds useful. One of these will be the Expectations Picture.
This picture is based on your experience. If your experience tells
you that at seminars, someone gets up and talks about the topic
of the seminar and people take notes and there is a break for lunch
and so on, your body will generate a picture that corresponds with
your experience. This will be its Expectations Picture and it will
use it to formulate reactions and emotions as necessary.
picture correlates with your body's expectations of the future.
So this is the Future Picture. Your body likes to have a Future
Picture because it is a Decision-Making Machine. And in order
to make decisions it needs to have some idea about what the outcome
of those decisions will be or what's the fucking point of making
the decision? And in order to forecast the outcome it needs to develop
some sense of what the possible future will be in order to guide
the decision. Your body does not like to operate without a Future
Picture. Future Pictures are very important to its health and well-being.
Some gurus will
tell you to Live In the Moment. They tell you this because you
don't want to. Your body does not want to live in the moment,
it wants to look at the future so it can figure out what the hell
to do in the present. If your body is forced by circumstance to
get by with only vague and depressing pictures of the future or
Futility Pictures in which nothing it does makes very much
difference it will get down-hearted and depressed. It is here to
make decisions on your behalf and if none of these decisions are
going to help you out, then what's the fucking point of it being
around at all? It feels useless and unloved and unworthy. It usually
combats these unpleasant sensations by generating Expectations Pictures
which allow it to make a certain number of important and worthy
and life-sustaining decisions on your behalf.
If you aren't
sure what to expect, you will often find yourself looking around
the room, saying to yourself 'I wonder what to expect.' You
will search the room for clues, the little printed schedule, the
way the other attendees act. You will ask yourself questions like
'Am I going to be called on? Will I have to talk? Do I know anyone
here? When's lunch? Where are the bathrooms? Is it going to be this
cold in here for 8 solid hours?' and so on.
you are in a situation where you don't know what to expect, you
will make the No Expectations Decision. In this case, you
tack up a picture in your mind that says 'no expectations. I will
see what happens and whether or not I like it.' You will then generate
only very minimal baseline expectations that you cart around with
you in almost every situation, such 'the building will not blow
up. I will not be raped. I am not expecting to be involved in
a hostage situation' and so on.
When you do
generate Expectations, which is most of the time, some of you are
in the habit of generating very detailed pictures of your Expectations
and some of you are content with a rough sketch. If you develop
very detailed pictures, you run the risk that when Current Reality
catches up with your Expectation Pictures, they will not be the
same. You don't like this because when Your Pictures Contrast, your
body generates an unpleasant chemical. In your body's Dictionary
of Emotions Contrast = Bad. And Matching Pictures are
Good! Your body's goal is to generate matching pictures.
On the other
hand, if your pictures are very vague, when Current Reality meets
up with Expectations, your body will peer at the two pictures, trying
to compare and contrast. But the Expectations sketch it will be
so rough it won't be able to fucking figure out if it matches up
with Current Reality at all. It will scratch its head and just be
at a loss as to what emotion to generate.
in generating pictures will have a big effect on the quality of
your emotions over the course of your life. But that's a digressionary
point for now.... more on that later.
your body has generated the Expectations or Future Picture and decided
that it expects the advertised seminar leader to appear at some
point and a lunch break and so on, it will briefly check on a couple
of other important pictures it carts around with itself. These are
The two main
reference pictures are My Ideal and Social Ideal.
These pictures determine the bottom-line definitions of good and
bad. Which is very helpful in generating emotions and making decisions.
The My Ideal picture is your body's personal reference picture (or
actually pictures) of what constitutes good and bad from its point
of view. The criteria it uses to determine this is based on Feels
Good and Feels Bad or That's Painful and That's Nice. It doesn't
make these up on its own, it comes pre-loaded with a number of standard
Good and Bad features. There's quite an extensive list of them in
the basic Human Operating Software. For example, receiving love=good;
bee stings=bad, tasty food=good, getting smacked in the face=bad,
warm, cuddly sensations=good, cold, shivery sensations=bad, enough
stimulation=good, too much stimulation=bad, no stimulation=very
bad and so on and so on. Your body is pre-set by evolution to respond
favorably or unfavorably to a whole bunch of things.
So you have
this standard template of Goodness and Badness and then you have
Special Pre-loaded Customizations. Each person's body varies
so what's pleasantly bright to one person is unbearably garish to
another, what's excruciatingly understimulating to one person is
more than enough for another person. Some people's bodies respond
ecstatically to music whereas others are like yeah, it's nice whatever,
what's the big deal? Some people are maniacs for the social stimulation
of Other People and others feel like a little dose of Other People
goes a long way. Some people's bodies love contact sports, others
think its horrifying. Some are pre-set with an abhorrence of dirt
and mess, whereas others are fine with it. Whatever your body's
personal preferences, it is basically trying to go for the right
amount of stimulation. Since nervous systems vary, the right amount
will vary, but regardless your body is pretty emphatic and determined
that it likes the right amount for itself and it does not like
the wrong amount. A whole bunch of your behavior and your likes
and dislikes and personality and so on will be determined by what
your body thinks is the right amount of stimulation for it. If this
is convenient for you, you will be happy much of the time. If it
is not, you will be in a very bad mood. It's not a matter of you
being right or wrong or having the correct or incorrect preferences,
it is a matter of whether those preferences are convenient for you.
If your body
says "God, I fucking love a gray day! It's so goddamn
peaceful and soothing, what a wonderful fucking break from that
annoying entity in the sky, the sun. I like it when we have lots
of gray days!" then you are going to be quite pleased with
Seattle and not very happy with with the everpresent fucking sunshine
of the tropics. If, on the other hand, your body says 'A day without
sunshine is like a day I want to shoot myself in the head.
How the fuck am I supposed to fucking function if I don't have the
proper amount of sunshine stimulation? How the fuck am I supposed
to set my body clock? Huh? Answer me that! Where's the fucking sunshine?'
then you are going to find a winter in Minnesota to be both excessively
long and quite excruciating. Your problem in this case is not your
preferences - it is the fact that you have accidentally landed
This type of
'fuck! I am in the completely wrong environment for my preferences'
is very common and underdiagnosed. And now, courtesy of prettyfedup.com,
we have an opportunity for you to diagnose yourself! If you are
in a bad mood about something, say to yourself 'the problem is not
me! It's the goddamn fucking environment! It does not suit my preferences!
How incredibly annoying and inconvenient of it not to be exactly
what I want! This is outrageous!' Feel free to blame accidentally
being in the wrong environment on your parents, even if you
are eighty years old and can barely remember what their names were.
It's harmless and entertaining! Putting your hands on your hips
and blaming the environment for not suiting your preferences is
of course completely against your natural instinct to blame yourself
and then feel guilty and defensive about not being happy and blaming
everybody else as if they were going to do something about it. But
your natural instinct is a pain in the ass and time consuming. Take
a shortcut and blame the environment directly! It's fun! Narrow
your eyes at some unattractive feature of your environment and announce
to it in a very bold tone of voice 'You are not suiting my preferences!'
The unattractive feature will immediately get nervous and suggest
hesitantly, 'perhaps I could be changed' or if it is very stubborn
and doesn't want to change it will suggest 'well perhaps there are
other environments that would suit your preferences better and perhaps
it would be worthwhile for you to spend some time investigating
them instead of bitching and moaning at me all day like I am going
to do something about it! Sheesh!' And then you will say 'Damn straight!'
and your body with its preferences will peek out from behind you
and go 'yeah, damn straight!' and you will be temporarily happy
because your body will be looking at matching pictures for a moment.
It loves that! Give yourself a treat and generate some matching
treats, back to the reference pictures. So your body carts around
its pre-existing opinion or set of pictures as to what's good and
bad and, as we already figured out, it will use these to Compare
and Contrast to your Current Reality and all your other pictures
to decide on the appopriate emotion.
Let's say for
example that at that screenwriting seminar, the instructor drones
on and on in a monotone voice. Your body will compare that Current
Reality with its ideal picture of pleasant stimulation and start
screaming - Boring! Too soft! Can't hear! Not enough stimulation!
And so on. And you will think the instructor is going to drive you
crazy and that you are going to die before all 8 hours are through
as your body vigorously points out to you a mismatch between the
Current Reality and the Ideal of Pleasant Stimulation pictures.
If it is working properly and feeling energetic, it will strongly
urge you to make a decision based on the mismatch and the negative
emotions it generates by telling you to leave at the lunch break
and never come back. This is what emotions are for - to vigorously
encourage you to make decisions you are afraid you will later regret.
That's their job! No wonder you have such a time with them.
If dealing with
your own mysterious Body Ideal pictures weren't enough, the other
reference picture your body uses is the Social Ideal picture. This
picture is its handy guide to what it has been told society values
as good and bad. For example, if you have been led to believe that
in social terms, attending a screenwriting seminar is supposed to
be a good thing, then your body will compare and contrast the Current
Reality picture with the Social Ideal picture and come up with a
match. It will then say 'Good! We are attending a screenwriting
seminar. This is a good thing. We checked with the Social Ideal
picture and this comes up as a very good thing.' And it will try
to generate a pleasant emotion for you. It will make you say to
yourself or someone else 'I'm really glad I get a chance to attend
this seminar.' Or 'I'm proud of myself for finally doing this.'
And so on.
On the other
hand, if you have been led to believe by your social programming
that attending screenwriting seminars is pathetic, then you will
have a different reaction. Your body will compare and contrast the
Current Reality with the Social Ideal and go 'Oh god. this is a
long fucking way from the Social Ideal here. Fuck, this is a major
mismatch.' And it will encourage you to say to yourself 'god, I
don't know why I'm here. This is so pathetic. These things never
work. Screenwriting can't be taught. God I feel like such a loser.'
And so on.
social programming varies quite a bit, each person carts around
a different Social Ideal picture in their head. On the other hand,
since social programming is a community endeavor, there's bound
to be some overlap as our individual unit selves come in contact
with the same social programming. One of the things that makes life
interesting is that you can never be quite sure whether someone
else's Social Ideal is going to exactly match yours and lead them
to share emotions with you, or relate, or understand where you are
coming from, and so on. There is always the risk that they have
a completely different Social Ideal and that theirs is right and
yours is wrong! How humiliating! Maybe you are the only one stuck
with some dorky hideously wrong Social Ideal and you are completely
out of step with everyone else and doomed to a harrowing life of
isolation and Being Misunderstood. Scary! This is why it
is so inherently rewarding when someone else actually does share
your emotions or understand them at least. You love that!
are so frightened by this natural risk involved in sharing emotions
that they spend a great deal of time being very annoyed that Other
People are apparently allowed to exercise their right to have had
different experiences and different social programming and even
their own personal preferences. They hate that! They don't think
people should be allowed to do that. They think everybody should
automatically know what Social Ideal is in their heads driving their
emotions, because if Other People don't there is the terrifying
possibility that maybe their Social Ideal is Not the Only Ideal
and that perhaps it could be even be changed to fit current circumstances.
If you meet
people like this, you must say to yourself inside (not out loud)
while you are dealing with them - 'God, you're so weird!'
They will subliminally pick this up and freak out because that's
exactly what they're afraid of. They'll hate you! But you'll have
a certain amount of malicious fun watching them freak out. God,
you're so superior.
If you are like
this, and people never understand you, and you can't seem to communicate,
then you might do yourself a favor and say 'Strangely, Other People
don't know what's in my head that's driving my emotions. It would
probably be handy if I actually said what was in my head out loud
so they could tell and it might even be handy if I actually listened
to what was in their heads so that I had some fucking idea what
they were talking about.' On the other hand, you might say to yourself,
"Everybody is wrong and I hate them and I don't know what the
fuck is wrong with them and I'm so frustrated and I hate myself
because I'm so lonely because I can't communicate and everything
I touch gets all fucked up.' Either one. Or if you are creative,
you might invest some time in coming up with a more complicated
explanation. You've got plenty of choices!
a major way your emotions get fucked up is when there is a large
discrepancy between the Social Ideals you have been taught, and
the Body Ideals you were born with and that belong to you. Because
your body uses both.
Let's say your
social programming tells you that it is a Good Thing to achieve
vice president level in the company where you work. When you achieve
that, your body will try to generate the applicable emotions by
telling you 'That's good! I'm so happy for you! Congratulations!'
and so on. It will have noted a match between your Current Reality
and the Social Ideal picture and it will try to generate happiness
On the other
hand, if it turns out that actually being a VP involves a lot of
really unpleasant things, like Conflict with Employees, Ever-Escalating
Demands, Not Enough Time, Unrelenting Pressure, Being Overwhelmed,
The Jealousy of Other Co-workers, Feelings of Failure, Excessive
Stress and so on, being a VP will not match up with your Body Ideal.
Because your body is pre-set to find unpleasant things....well,
unpleasant. It had an entirely different ideal for you in mind.
In this case,
you will experience severe agonizing cramp-like Conflicting Emotions.
This happens to everyone. You will compare and contrast your Current
Reality with Your Social Ideal and get a match. You will compare
and contract your Current Reality with your Body Ideal and get a
major mismatch. You will feel very unhappy at the same time you
feel like you ought to be very happy. You will feel both. You will
not know what decisions to make.
emotions are there to help you make decisions, when you experience
Conflicting Emotions, you will have a hell of a hard time making
them. You'd love to quit being a VP but you really want to stay.
You don't want to give up, but god you'd really like to and so on.
The Body Ideal is stronger than the Social Ideal and Body Emotions
are stronger than the Social Ideal emotions.
This is not
to say that Social Ideal emotions are not strong. They are. It's
just that Body Emotions are stronger.
There is a reason
for this. It is that society is often wrong. Societies are
not set up to be excellent arbiters of what is actually good
and bad, they are set up to be societies. They are set up to protect
their interests and not yours. It may be very much in society's
interest to tell you that being a VP is a good thing, because it
will encourage you to work hard and figure out more ways to sell
SUVs, a vitally necessary ingredient of the economy. Society doesn't
necessarily give a shit that being a VP actually sucks. Someone's
got to do it. And if you're the sucker who'll buy in to the social
programming, so much the better.
Body Emotions will not give up until they win. In fact, they
never give up. No matter how you try to ignore them, they stick
around. Society can tell you until it's blue in the face that Bad
is Good and Good is Bad and you can believe them and twist yourself
in every conceivable way in order to try to make that true - and
it won't make a damn bit of difference. Your body will never believe
it, and underneath it all, you will always be generating the emotions
that go along with what your body thinks is good and what it thinks
is bad. If your body thinks your mother-in-law is a bitch, it doesn't
matter if she gets nominated for sainthood while still alive, your
body will still fucking hate her and you will still generate those
emotions. You can deal with your body emotions or not as you choose,
but they will deal with you.
One of the
major tasks of life is figuring out when the Social Ideal is right
and when it is wrong. And the way you do this is by experiencing
it and seeing what your body has to say. If it tells you, no fucking
way I'm putting up with this corporate shit, quit, marry rich and
be a landscape painter - well then you know. Painting is good,
VPness is bad.
This is of course
messy, annoying and inconvenient since the Social Ideal and your
Body Ideal may not match up very closely. And just because it is
wrong, doesn't mean that Social Ideal isn't important. It is. Your
body may say swinging in a hammock while eating grapes is the Ideal,
whereas Society may say 'get a fucking job or you're screwed.' And
you will have the task, like everyone else, of figuring out how
you can sneak as much fucking Body Ideal into your life as possible
without totally fucking yourself over in terms of everyone else's
Social Ideal. Always an interesting balancing act.
important picture your body uses in generating emotions and making
decisions is the Trend Picture. Trend is your body's assessment
of whether you are moving in the direction of an Ideal or away from
it. Moving away is bad and generates emotions that feel bad. Moving
toward is good and generates emotions that feel much better.
let's say you are driving home from work with your 18 month old
baby in the back, having just picked her up from day care. It is
a gray, misty day and you are on a 2 lane road, 45 mph speed limit
as befits your almost rural suburb. You've got maybe 15 miles before
you get home.
You've got a
nice Current Reality picture that tells you that you're driving
home from work with your baby. You've got an Expectations Picture
that says that in about 20 minutes you'll be home, which will mean
dinner, warmth, conversation with mate, and playing with baby. Your
Body Ideal values all these things, warmth, conversation, baby,
home, dinner, all good, all pleasurable. And your Social Ideal is
down with them too. Family Life After Work is Good. We're looking
at a pretty good match between Expectations and Ideals and you're
feeling pretty good. You also have a trend picture which
tells you that you are heading towards goodness and ideals,
in fact you are driving in that very direction even now.
Happy Matches all the way around and no need to make any big decisions.
In fact, you are driving on autopilot, not really thinking of anything
All of a sudden, a monster trailer truck appears, barreling down
the two-lane highway, in the wrong lane! Whammo, your picture-generating
ability blasts into high gear. Your Expectations pictures undergo
an extremely rapid shudder. You did not expect a trailer truck in
your life, barreling toward you. Expectations Mismatch - Bad!
Your expectations rapidly alter, based on experience and you have
now generated an expectations picture in an instant that involves
a gigantic truck crashing into you, destroying your car and killing
you and your baby. Frantically you deploy an urgent compare and
contrast with the Ideals Pictures - Huge Mismatch! Major Bad!
It's almost as if your life flashes before your eyes. You see
your hubby or your wife, your house, your beautiful kiddie in the
pink dress you got her for Christmas.
When you experience
this flashing, your body is doing the compare and contrast and you
are witnessing it in action. All those pictures of what you are
going to lose when the truck slams into you, this is your body's
method of generating chemicals. Your body is frantic now - the
contrasts between the mangled steel and the happy warm home are
huge - and big contrasts generate big emotions. It starts
pumping decision-making chemicals into you as fast as possible
and in large quantities.
it checks Trend. The truck is getting closer! You are trending towards
badness and away from goodness and very rapidly! Emergency! Major
major bad Trend. Your body checks trend very briefly, to see
if any new information came in while it was processing the other
pictures. The answer in this case was no, still trending towards
Now it's time
for your body to generate the proper emotion based on its incredibly
rapid assessment of all the factors. In this case, it generates
Fear. The purpose of fear is to get you to avoid something bad.
It is the Avoid Motherfucker, Avoid! mechanism. The Avoid
This Shit! Avoid, Goddammit! mechanism. A wise choice on its part
in this case, because you really do need to avoid that truck.
Under your body's
chemical influence, instinctively, you swerve to avoid. You drive
into a ditch. The maniacal wrong-way truck roars past. You shake.
You sweat. You breathe. You make large semi-sobbing heaving chest
noises. Your muscles are all weirded out, tense yet weak. You
have an incredible overload of chemicals and you have an array
of physical reactions designed to process them out now that the
danger has passed.
story of disaster averted is a good example of exactly the kind
of situation emotions were designed for and why they have the properties
Emotions are designed to be generated quickly.
One of the alarming
things about inconvenient emotions like embarrassment or rage, or
shame or overwhelming patriotic sentimentality is that they arise
so quickly - before you have a chance to decide whether they're
welcome or not.
really designed for emergencies in which quick action is needed.
Your body does not ask your permission to scan its pictures in an
emergency or a high-contrast situation, it does so automatically.
Furthermore, it's familiar with its reference pictures and its standard
expectations and it doesn't even need to look at them that closely
to know when there's a Big Contrast Situation.
you could be trying to have a student-teacher conference with a
professor when the professor says something you find demeaning.
Your body doesn't even have to look at or study your Expectation
Of Being Treated Like You Are Stupid picture or the standard compare
and contrast with your body Ideal of Being Respected and Listened
To reference picture. It knows this shit already. And so there you
are before you know, flush red, feeling huffy and indignant and
powerless, all the standard emotions your body has learned to generate
in the presence of these particular pictures. You didn't want to
feel that way - you just did. This is because your body values
speed when it comes to emotions.
Sure if there's
a complicated situation where it's not familiar with the particular
pictures in question, it will haul them out, spread them all over
its drafting table and analyze them, trying to figure out where
the matches and the mismatches are and how you should feel about
them. In some circumstances, it may take you days to figure out
that someone insulted you oh so subtly and now you feel very huffy,
because you weren't familiar with that circumstance and didn't have
any appropriate pictures handy for that situation.
But not when
you're under pressure or there's an immediate decision to be
made. Your body is designed to believe that life comes equipped
with emergencies and that you'd better be prepared to make decisions
in a hurry on very little information if necessary. That's why it
keeps the reference pictures always on hand, and likes to generate
Expectations pictures for virtually everything. And if necessary,
it will slap together a decision-making picture so fast it will
look like a blur.
#2: Sudden emotions are often wrong.
It's not embarrassing
enough that you got all hot and bothered and flustered when you
were talking to your professor, it's even more humiliating when
you realize later that he was probably just trying to be nice or
didn't say what you thought he said.
This is because
your body is not interested in accuracy when generating a sudden
decision-making emotion - it's interested in safety. It will draw
a very bad picture, or look at an outdated one, it will do an incredibly
cursory compare and contrast analysis and it will cheat on the side
of contrast if it has the least suspicion.
is designed to jump to conclusions. This is why you frequently
make a fool of yourself by jumping to conclusions.
When there is
something at stake, your body looks much more closely at its pre-drawn
pictures than reality - because it likes them better. They're yours,
they're homey, they're familiar, sometimes they are even useful.
But best of all, they're fast.
This is just
the way things work. You can mitigate the speed and the jumping
to conclusions aspect of emotions - particularly if they are causing
havoc in your life. You do this by training yourself to look at
reality instead of your pre-existing pictures. This takes discipline,
work, and willpower - or sometimes it just takes a series of
situations where you'd really rather look at reality than those
stupid pictures you are carting around with you. Sometimes you are
just not in the fucking mood to look at your old outdated pictures
- fuck 'em, they suck!
When your pictures
work, use them. When they don't, haul them out into the light and
say to them very sternly, You Need To Improve Yourselves.
We are going to redraw you from scratch by using Current Reality
as our model and not all that crap we learned a long time ago that
we never liked anyway. This will scare your pictures so bad they
will be shaking in their boots and sure they'll never live up to
your expectations. And then you'll win them over, by suddenly dropping
your stern tone and saying very kindly 'oh come on, it won't be
so bad. You'll do fine. I'll help.' They'll be like putty in your
hands in no time!