How are you feeling? A client was recently asked this question by fellow members in my social therapy group. This question from group came after he shared a difficult situation we was experiencing. He thought about it for a moment. He asked if ‘passion and apathy go together? If so, that’s what I feel’.
The client’s statement gave us pause. Passion is intense emotion, and apathy is lack of any emotion or not caring. What an unusual and multi-dimensional coupling.
We are taught to see our emotional life as static, one-dimensional things. ‘I am angry’/ ‘I am an anxious person’/ ‘I am Happy’. However, life is not so categorizable, not so clean, clear or consistent. Our emotionality is messy ever-changing.
Social Therapy, the group approach I practice, embraces messy, confusing contradictions in emotional experiences and life.
In sharing his feeling of being passionate and apathetic at the same time, my client presented us all with a new opportunity. We could not just go on with our scripted ways of talking. A little friendly curve ball was thrown in the conversation, shaking it up a bit. Yes in our lives- as-actually-lived moment to moment, we experience multiple and contradictory emotions all at the time. Its just when we are asked to label or describe our feelings is when we are required to name one. What a distortion human experience.
After this group session, I am seeing how much we experience so called opposite emotions at once. A dear friend was in the car with me recently and shared that he inherited two characteristics from his father: road rage and apathy. My friend’s delivery was brilliantly deadpan. I laughed so hard I almost ran us off the road. Thanks buddy, and group client, for the shake up.
Now let’s throw out the emotions charts and keep shaking it up, together.