Jack Bauer and Rational versus Emotional

Synopsis: Just because we have emotions, doesn’t mean we have to be led around by them — Jack Bauer and Rational versus Emotional


I can’t believe I’m going to start off with 24 again, but I, am, so I guess I believe it.

We started watching reruns of Season 5, and good ole Audrey Raines is back — she was Jack’s love interest last season, which of course didn’t work out. Apparently, later in the season, Jack’s dumb daughter Kim will also be back, a two-fer of monumental proportions.

The show is 95% action, 5% people screwing up relationships.

I can kind of bug myself over it — the whole self-involved, me, me, me thing. It’s like:

  • Jack is off saving the world, this time from a nerve gas attack, and Audrey calls him… he’s on a helicopter en route… to tell him she still likes him, and would like to talk. Nerve gas attack imminent. I want to talk.
  • A couple of seasons ago it was a suitcase nuke, and Jack was running around following leads, and daughter Kim corners him to tell him she’s been dating his partner. Dirty bomb attack imminent. Thought he should know, I’m dating.

Another classic from last season. James Heller is the Secretary of Defense. Something bad is about to happen. He draws himself up to full height, and says, “That’s simply not acceptable!” Silence. Then Jack or someone says, “That’s the situation, and our only option.” Heller sighs, looks down. “Keep me informed.” Drama queens, abounding.

You may wonder where I am going with this.

No, really! It’s this big!

In each case, the person is putting personal, emotional self-interest ahead of what needs to be done. “I just need you to know that I have a zit, and I’m really, really upsetting myself over it. Now, you can go back to saving the world.”

Not to minimize the things YOU get emotional over, but do keep reading!

Relatives and friends provide us with endless examples, now that client stories have dried up. One relative was here in Costa Rica, and was upset that her son-in-law was criticizing the way she cleaned shrimp. No, really. Quoth she: “He thinks his way is the right way, when everyone knows that the way I do it is the right way.” The irony was lost on her.

Another acquaintance went off to College. Wrote an angst‑y post about how no one understands her, how they don’t get the label she hangs on her sexuality, and that they are challenging her, while hitting on her. Of course, all of them are wrong, and stupid, and don’t get the contemporary culture, and they should change, or leave College, because, “I’m upset!”

I could go on, and maybe will, but for now, what I want to say is, all of this reduces down to trying to think with one’s emotions.

See? I lasted a paragraph. Another, positive story. A guy was staying at our condo complex, and left a few days back. We were over saying hasta luego, and he said that he’d had a drama.

He’s our age, and a surfer. The day before, the local newspaper mentioned that a gringo from the US of A had drowned while surfing off of Samara Beach. (Turns out they had the wrong town–Samara is a really safe beach.) This story spread to Facebook, and some people (relatives back home, his 95-year-old mom, etc.) started worrying a bit.

A former friend of his down here, for reasons unknown, posted to Facebook, “R.I.P. Joe Blow,” using our friend’s name. The guy posted it because he thought it was funny, and of course knew our friend was not the victim.

This was our friend’s last day in Costa Rica, so he was out, you guessed it, surfing. He came home to a shit-storm of voice and email from freaked out family. He spent hours calling everyone (including his mom, who remarkably uses Facebook.)

Here’s the point.

He was angry. He said that he wanted to go up the hill and beat the guy senseless. He then sighed and said, “I think I’ve calmed everyone back home down. I let the guy know that I thought of him, and he’s no longer a friend.”

So, emotion would be: up the hill, beat him senseless (and I suspect most of us could relate.)

Rational would be: call family, cut the guy off, after telling him what you thought.

Stupid would be: I know better but I’m angry and hard-done-by, and I have the right to go pound on the guy, because he upset me.

Now, of course, the guy’s behaviour was something our friend chose to upset himself over. But that’s not today’s lesson.

Today’s lesson is: feel your feelings, have your emotions, then calm yourself, regulate yourself, and get over yourself. Then ask, “Rationally, what if anything needs to be done?”

I showed you!!!

Most folk are incredibly immature about their emotions. They assume that, when they are wound up, have wound themselves up, that
a) someone else it to blame, and
b) they have the right and duty to dump their garbage over anyone who is in the way.

Hint: You don’t.

Not if you want to be an adult. Emotions are great: there are tons of good ones, some that are spectacular, and a lot are dumb and painful, but our emotions make us human. They just aren’t much good for decision-making.

Take sex and turn-ons. Feels good, and we want to act upon the feel-good-ness. Great. Go play. However, remember that being turned on is not a marker of anything but that your parts work. A client once had sex with a friend (on a pool table) and said, “I must love him… I had sex with him!” Um.… nope.

The time for planning and figuring out is when emotions are cool.

I’ve been in several emotional situations, as have we all, and none of them, in hindsight, required action. Most required having the emotion, which might mean going off in a corner and having a cry or a scream. None required action directed toward another.

Mostly, taking a step back when we are emotional is key to coming up with an eventual, rational response.

It also provides, with people you are intimate with, a topic for conversation, of the “Boy I was really winding myself up” variety. Which can be hard.

I mentioned to a friend recently that getting past our emotional reactions is like braking a drug habit — in the middle of the “fix,” it feels so good. We want more. Then, we might get past it, and then a situation arises, and we remember how good being bad felt, and we do it again.

Unless we stop ourselves, and that is hard.

It takes practice and persistence to not give in and do what has never worked, but hey, that’s what maturity is like.

Now, if only Jack would start meeting some people who get this, can get over themselves, because, suitcase bomb.

About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is the web\‘s Simple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Private Practice Counsellor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the latest being The. Best. Relationship. Ever. See: –The Phoenix Centre Press

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