At any given time, in any given situation, a man can be in one of two phases: going in or going out—he either expands his willpower or exerts it. These two fundamental states of a man’s bodymind determine how he should relate to his emotions.
“Going out” (Work Mode)
When a man goes out, he shall focus on his virtues, more precisely, on his behavior.
He must ask himself, “Is my behavior in line with my True Will? Am I being true to myself with the deeds that I do? Am I fulfilling my personal moral standard?” When he goes out, he shall judge himself based on his actions and his own values.
Pain and pleasure, joy and fear, rage and tiredness, passion and sluggishness, drive and contentment—they don’t have a say. When a risk might bring him suffering, he takes it anyway; when a danger threatens to hurt him, he faces the fear; when an adversity upsets him, he doesn’t change his course; when a hardship exhausts him, he stays with his strength.
A man “going out” shall think beyond his emotions and act regardless of them. When a man is in work mode, emotions other than pride deserve neither a vote nor a voice.
“Going in” (Meditation Mode)
When a man goes in, he shall focus on his body, more precisely, on his feelings.
He must ask himself, “What is happening in my body?” When he goes in, he shall observe his emotions without following them.
Every emotion has two parts, a physiological and a mental structure:
- An emotion’s physiological structure contains unique patterns of breathing, heart function, neurotransmitter action, and endocrine signaling. For example, the physiology of anxiety comprises rapid breathing, elevated heart rate, GABAergic neurotransmission in the amygdala, and a flood of adrenaline (among many other and more nuanced factors, of course).
- An emotion’s mental structure is a cognitive pattern embedded in language with lots of sociocultural baggage. For example, the concept of anxiety is associated with cultural stereotypes (e.g., a timid introvert) and societal values (e.g., alpha male domination).
A man “going in” shall ignore the mental structure and its implicit judgments; he shall listen to his body and pay attention to what’s happening inside (the physiological patterns). He must feel his breath, feel his heart, feel his blood! He must not say, “This is joy” or “That is anxiety.” Rather, he shall have a pure, a childlike look into his body—a look that sees the feeling, but doesn’t give it a name. When a man is in meditation mode, language is the enemy.
In cognitive science, we have the concepts “cold cognition” vs. “hot cognition” to differentiate between thought processes that are more rational vs. more emotional. Mindcoolness is always cold.
When “going out” (working), mindcoolness is cold volition: a creating will undiverted by frantic thoughts or colorful emotions; only pure pride matters. When “going in” (meditating), mindcoolness is cold mindfulness: an observing presence undiverted by frantic thoughts or colorful emotions; only pure feelings matter. Mindcoolness is the optimal balance between masculine aggression and grounded serenity.
So, should a man listen to his emotions?—With his creating will, he shall act, not listen; with his observing presence, he shall listen, not follow. And as the blaze of his will never dies down, the cool of his mind moves in and moves out.