Emotions – The Sixth Sense and Moralizing Self-Care

17th century representation of the "third...

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Yesterday we talked about self-care being about bigger things than just the individual – bigger than “Me.”  This leads us into today’s questions.

Question #1:  Is Not Doing Self-Care Selfish?  Please tell me your story.

As if there weren’t enough things to feel guilty about, we had to ask this question!

One of the intuitive responses many of us have when we hear this kind of question is to moralize our behaviors by using our emotions to interpret their value.  This can lead to inappropriate guilt, and even more so when we suffer from an affective (involving mood,) and/or anxiety illness(es.)  We do this to ourselves and/or to others.

Some time ago we spoke about emotions often being used by us to interpret our reality; even though they don’t decide our reality.  To emphasize this, let’s name emotion, as others have done before us, “The Sixth Sense” – and I’m not referring to that scary movie with Bruce Willis in it.

Just like our traditionally named Five Senses, the emotion senses are used to interpret the world around us and define what we perceive as true.

  1. Smell (olfacoception or olfacception)
  2. Vision (ophthalmoception)
  3. Hearing (audioception)
  4. Touch (tactioception)
  5. Taste (gustaoception)
  6. Emotion/Feeling

We have many other senses as well – temperature (thermoception), kinesthetic sense (proprioception), pain (nociception), balance (equilibrioception) and acceleration (kinesthesioception).  We argue as to how to define a perception.  But unlike with the sense of emotions, what we don’t usually argue over is qualifying a moral value to these other more familiar senses.

Senses are perceptions.  They are not objective.  They are subjective.  For example, we cannot measure vision in a vial.  Even people who are neurologically blind, have things they perceive that they see.  There are visual pseudohallucinations that happen with visual system lesions, such as a stroke – hallucinations like moving, colored or geometrical forms, real objects or scenes.  We won’t get into all the different types of hallucinations or pseudohallucinations there are.  Rather, we will highlight that what we “see” is a perception and not a measured value.  Same with emotions.  Emotions are perceptions and not measured values.  The Sixth Sense.

If we could quantify the sense of emotions and qualify the sense of emotions than it would be easier for us to be more objective when thinking about our original question.  So what now?  A lot of help that does!

Question #2: What now?

This brings us back to the self-care practice of “presence.”  It just is.  So it goes.  Oh well.  Stay connected so you have other reference points to yourself.  Go towards your fears to be more present with yourself, …and so on.

Question #1:  Is Not Doing Self-Care Selfish?

It depends who is asking and who is answering in context of how they are using their emotions to qualify self-care.  When we think about not doing self-care, we can’t help but remember all the people in the wake of the uncared for life.  Those people if asked might say, yes or no, depending if they interpret selfishness as a moral issue and where they assigned moral value otherwise.  When we think about the person not doing their self-care, she might say, no or yes, depending if she interpreted selfishness as a moral issue and where she assigned moral value otherwise.

Another intersecting paradigm into our perceptions, and there are many, is the temperament typology.  Many of us, in fact the majority of us, interpret our reality through our Sixth Sense – how we feel. This is as we were designed, as we were wired, as we do from a biological level.  Yet we assign moral value to The Sixth Sense – Emotions.

Consistently, those of us who are genetically interpreting our reality from thought, executive thinking and more detached from the limbic system of the brain – we have moralized, assigning value to those abilities or the lack of them.  (Don’t go there.  My brain is tired.  Don’t bring up the idea that The Seventh Sense is thought!  Ah!)

The fact that we can say, No! to taking on the moral assignments of others, comes to us from our freedom to choose or not to choose self-care.

Question #1:  Is Not Doing Self-Care Selfish?

Self-Care Tip #209 – Embrace your Sixth Sense to be present with yourself in self-care.

20 thoughts on “Emotions – The Sixth Sense and Moralizing Self-Care

  1. Yes. Not doing self care is selfish. It locks us into our own little, miserable space and shuts our loved ones, our friends, and even God out. It might be okay with us if we stay in the darkness of life, but those who love us suffer when we refuse to help ourselves or rationalize why we can’t. However, for me, it was a little like the chicken and the egg. I needed self care but I needed to get well enough to know I needed self care but the way to getting well enough involved self care. I had a sick sixth sense (Say THAT three times fast!) and until it healed I was stuck. Unless we who suffer from mental illness are blessed to have someone who, first, understands and then cares enough to nudge, push, shove us into doing something to help ourselves, it’s hard to know how to start. It’s when we’ve been shoved and do nothing that we become selfish. I know. I look at my kids, at my husband, and I see how much my illness has hurt them and I am just now seeing how little I have made myself do, until recently, to make myself better. I think I’ve lost close to eighteen years of my life. Look what I did to eighteen years of theirs!

      • I keep re-writing this and nothing i write says what I want to say. I thought I’d said it above. I guess my problem is that it hurts to care as much as I do for my family. It hurts to care, period! I want to “make it better’, and, if I can’t, then I feel responsible for the pain I can’t fix. And this week, for too many reasons, I have encountered too many things that I can’t fix, and I just hurt. Sorry. I don’t have much of an answer to your question.

  2. Hmmmm…. Just the other day, an old poodle was trying to cross the street without much luck. I ran over, introduced myself, had a wonderful conversation with the octogenarian, and helped her find her way home. I was kind of bummed at first because I missed chasing a new cat. But… for the rest of the day I felt great. I felt great about the fact that I had connected with someone else and been of service. I have realized that by connecting with others and working with them… I am taking care of myself

  3. I may be way off here, but I had a moaning-Minnie bleating on at me about her woeful lot yesterday. Every suggestion I made about giving herself some self-care was rejected. She seems to WANT to wallow. Is that selfish of her?

    • had big problems but im ok been in hospital for last night got accused of stealing my mates stuff it was a letter box burgler kev know i wont steal off him but the police seen it another way he would not let them arrest me so im ok we were burgled i do ot see them becuase i had mirtazapine in me any one who takes 45mg will know it is very hard to wake up out of it i heard the dog but didnt see the burgler he or her got away with a watch and two gold chains the police siad i did it it was one of the most hurtfull things in the world at least i didnt get arrested i wanted to be to prove my innocence but kev would not let them therefor they were not going to investergate me and kev go back quite a bit and we trust each other he now puts the chub lock on his door so anybody out there with just a yale lock your not totle safe or and the police siad to me there was no such thing as a letter box burgler or and all criminals make a mess thats just stero typing they have got away and that to me is not justice

      • is there only me who has heard of a letter box burgler or do they exist or am i just a Psychophrenic ive got no form for stealing tis not mine so i cant have it simple not in the eyes of the police never a dull moment in my life

  4. I love this post—one of your best—because it is TRIPPIN’ ME OUT! I feel like this is one of those, “What if we are really in a dream/in a computer/in the Matrix?” type of moments. All good…only by pushing our minds like this can we even begin to zoom in on Truth.

    Things I am starting to wonder about:

    Does selfishness really even have a moral value, or does it just exist? Genetically we are bound up to act in our self-interest (most people view “self-interest” and “selfishness” as two different traits. “Selfishness” is one of those moralizing words that has evolved to point fingers at anyone acting too overtly with “self-interest.” To some degree, we ALL act in our self-interest; our genes certainly do.

    One might wonder if part of emotional illness is having our “self-interest” barometers a little askew. We either think we should act with more or less self-interest—and maybe part of the guilt is getting caught up in how others view us.

    If we cannot really trust any of our senses for objectivity (and I completely agree with you that we cannot, by the way), then aren’t we all kind of bumping around in different realities a bit? Is there such a thing as objectivity, and if so, where is it?

    Please write a philosophical paper, 6-8 pages single spaced, due Monday. 🙂 Just kidding!

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