I think most of us have an aspect in ourselves to react emotionally to the things our world dishes out to us. I will talk of this from the context of myself. We all react to different things, and have different things we care about.

First I want to emphasize with Halo is that while it is a video game don't write it off. What I am saying here is able to be generalized to everything you care about in the slightest. Secondly I wish to emphasize that for the most part I take it pretty lightly and just play for fun, and don't care weather I win or lose. During competitive stints though I do take it a little more seriously, and losing is depressing. (Sounds like I am trying to convince myself here, eh?)

I get into Halo now and again for a few weeks every semester. I decide I want to be good, and work for that. Usually, however I end up quiting because I get nothing from it as far as general contentment of my life goes, and either I lose alot or win very easily.

When I play I notice subtle reactions in myself. My emotions affect my judgments and interactions. I get a little angry when other players do things that result in me losing badly, even when I would do the same thing in their shoes. My intellect tells me that it doesn't make sense for me to be angry at these people - for one it is only a game which is relatively inconsequential to my life in regard to winning or losing; and secondly them being good is no reason for me to dislike them. However, I do dislike them. I would even say "hate" would be a better word.

This hatred is an emotional reaction that conflicts with how I would like myself to react and behave. Now I can control myself, I don't have outbursts or anything like that. However, I still have this internal reaction going on that I would rather not exist at all. It clouds my judgement and pushes me to do things which are in no way constructive to myself or anyone else. It is a similar reaction you see in alot of modern arguments and events. People hate the others for thinking differently or doing things differently. They do destructive things, that help neither themselves or others.

The interesting thing is, with the awareness of this in myself. I also get a little saddened even when I win. I know that most other players probably feel similarly when they lose badly. When I can get 10 to 1 streaks, I know there is a high probability they are sad or angry. For anyone with any amount of empathy for others, this awareness with the knowledge of what they are experiencing is enough to make the win non-satisfying. There is the occasional "good game" where we are evenly matched and exchange places frequently. These are satisfying, and even the loser can walk away feeling good, but I think in the other cases the reactions reveal a subtle side of myself (and others) that we often forget about or that goes unnoticed. In the future I want to work to mute this negative response to loss. I want simply clarity. If I am to do well under pressure and in difficult times, I cannot be letting emotional reactions affect my actions and judgement.

This same concept carries for situations in everyday life. I am speaking in weak generalizations here, but one example from my experiences is "Liberals" seem to strongly dislike "Conservatives" and vice versa. There is a problem separating the individual person from the belief or idea in regard to emotional reactions. Often the topics are inconsequential. For example I tend to have a negative stance against religion. I very much was against it in my past years. However, what you choose to believe is usually (there are exceptions) of no consequence to me.

It should not matter to me if you want to think something different. The problem is it often does, and I care for the most part only to attempt to change your view, and if I cannot make progress I end up slightly hating you for the duration of the discussion of the topic. After the discussion I sweep it under the rug, and if we have other common ground, I will remember that you are a good person except when it comes to that topic. With no common ground, I may dislike you in general for the stance on the topic alone. These particular emotions and feelings corrupt our logic and humanity. I think the most important part is admitting these emotions are there, and becoming aware of them and then evaluating weather this is actually how we want to handle ourselves.

I believe myself much more neutral on religion in general now, partially in recognition of the above. I'd also like to add if the above is not something you believe you share, think about the things you really care about. Think what you think when others confront you on these things of importance; are you emotionally and judgmentally attached to these things to the point you ignore most of the influence of your human empathy and logic?

Apr 12, 2010