The Frugal Emotionalist

Spending the emotional nickels and dimes

“I just don’t have the emotional money to spend on that.” It was within a conversation I was having with my neighbor. She understood what I meant, having read my piece on Emotional Current-cy It is a subject that has captured a few folks thinking, revealing that they use it themselves now. Having had the thought to begin with, and whether it is original or not, the practices of honing those skills has had a lasting effect on not only my recovery, but life itself. It has given me inroads to not only staying in the present, but dealing with the past that arises and the futures that may come as well. The refinement, or more accurately just using it, has brought about other observations, uses, and spin off routines that are trying to poke through this thick skull.

Researchers at the major search engines has revealed that Americans are looking into the areas of anxiety, and depression more than ever before. In the middle of a worldwide crisis, this is to be expected. The crises that come about from this on a personal level are often overwhelming. The practice of budgeting my emotional allotments has been a saving grace, yet it too comes with warning signs, turn-around points, and expenditures that simply cannot, or should not be avoided. Because as much as I have seen this manner of thinking evolve to be a positive, the more negative thinking patterns wanted in, and they sometimes slid in behind the positive ones.

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As I have said to friends, to expound on Bill’s words; Like anger, sports, and politics, are also dubious luxuries. Matters that we can speculate on, have opinions and beliefs of, yet at the same time, should weigh in thought before we make it our own. To make any of these too personal for myself is to doom myself to overthinking, arbitrary anxiety, and reptilian brain parlays of friend or foe? I discovered those pieces by placing no investment in them beyond acknowledgement that I could spend some emotional money if I cared to. As the months and years have gone by though, the apathy began to set in, the distancing myself from pertinent pieces. Apathy is not acceptance, the slothful thinking started taking its toll. The apathetic mannerisms were just as addictive as anything else, and it started to spread.

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Don’t get me wrong, the overall use of this banking of emotional currency is a net positive. The negatives are small riders for the most part, but they can grow if attention isn’t paid. Because like everything else in life, these pieces that make up the whole are complex, simple, honest, and lying, all at the same time. As time goes by though the little things that are important, or necessary for a better way of thinking begin to include themselves into the savings account. The mental pathways were clearing, along with some anxiety, but some things didn’t hit home anymore like they did in the past. The truth was I wasn’t investing into enough truth, enough tough life, enough substance. That had an adverse effect on my purpose of being, one of the mechanisms that motivate change and thought. I found not investing enough is as unhealthy as investing too much.

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The recent passing of a friend brought the backwoods brain thinking into a clearer focus. It was one of those emergency deductions, the kind that drains you almost dry. At the same time I noticed the missing pieces that were not where they were supposed to be. Because apathy is basically the feeling of – not feeling. If the world was grinding away as it had in the past, I don’t know if I would be able to see it like this, but the isolation has provided a backdrop. That empowering ability to gauge and limit spending, came with a parasitical side effect. Of course I didn’t see it at the time, as it happened. It came on so slowly, and then became normalized.

Through much psychological research, it’s now accepted science that you must experience feelings about something if you’re to take personally meaningful action on it. And without any compelling emotion to direct your behavior—and apathy literally means “without feeling”—you just aren’t sufficiently stimulated to do much of anything. Leon F Seltzer Ph.D. “The Curse of Apathy”

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Granted, isolation in itself is cause for a rise in apathy, it creates a fertile ground for it. As I have shared at meetings, Isolating, and I so hating, are only one letter apart. The caring, the emotions, the healthy mental balance is not too far apart either. The adaption, and new tools that are coming from this include more financial analogies. Developing a set of bills that must be paid is developing. Rent, water, sewer, electricity, food, all necessities for a healthy life. Gratitude, love, fear, passion, commitment, and practicing a better way of thinking, all necessities for this healthy mental life too. The old question of investing into something now comes with an another connected thought; Am I just applying a frugal decision here? Or am I just becoming lazy, and slothlike, in dealing with them as they arrive? When I first came into the program, I spoke a lot about how it all felt like a balancing act. All these years later I am still using that very same mindset.

The same nickels and dimes that cost us in the pocketbooks also need to be spent in the emotional accounts. The compiling of a bank statement is shaping up. Allowing the emotions, is supposed to happen. Knowing when to say when is also a part of it too. It is like I stated, a balancing act of the most personal kind, but a practice that’s helped in this alcoholic’s recovery. Isolation is the antithesis of the human condition, it can and will be taking its toll on our beings for years to come. A healthy appetite of love and joy, immersion into gratitude and hope, and a heaping helping of self truths is not too much to spend for this frugal emotionalist.

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