7 min read

#8: Map those 5-star emotions, baby!

This week in Extremely Unannyoing we'll talk about feeling feelings, rating books, grim dark worlds, and the surprising delight that is the new D&D movie.

Come on, it'll be fun!

0) A quick musical aside

Before we start, I want to try something new: offering you something to listen to while you're reading. Thanks to an eclectic DJ of the Akvárium Klub, I was reminded last Saturday that I loved Bonobo while I was at uni. I spent many hours laying on my bed, listening to his albums while dealing with love, heartache, the stupid drama that felt significant at that time, and just the general angst of becoming a young adult.

One album in particular was—and still is—my favorite: Black Sands.

I urge you to pop it in and let it take you back in time (or to other worlds) while you (hopefully) enjoy this newsletter.

1) How to feel your emotions

Look, if you're one of those people who are in touch with their emotions, can cry easily, and experiences happiness and anger without problem, I want you to know two things:

One, I envy you immensely. Two, you might be surprised to learn that not all of us work like that.

If you would have asked me a few years ago if I was in touch with my emotions, I would have said yes. Pretty confidently too. To my defense, I really thought I was, because when asked about them I could easily talk about my emotions. I could tell you why I thought I feel them, how feeling them impacted me, etc. I could answer eloquently and in long sentences, full of emotionally charged words.

The problem was that I didn't really feel those feelings. I just talked about them intellectually.

If this sounds familiar, that's because it's such a common phenomenon that it even has its own name: intellectualization. Intellectualization is a defense mechanism where you engage in logical assessment or abstract reasoning to avoid distressing emotions or challenges to your sense of self.

A simple example of intellectualization is when something traumatic happens to you and instead of engaging with the emotional impact, you coldly analyze the situation instead. What I described above is an even more sinister twist on it where you analyze the emotions you think you (should) feel because of the situation.

So it looks like feeling but it's actually not feeling at all.

Before I go on, I want to take a minute and reassure you: you're not a dummy if you intellectualize. You're not defective, a sociopath, etc. None of that.

Intellectualization is a common defense mechanism we all have and do from time to time. It can even be adaptive in certain situations since sometimes it helps if you think about a problem in abstract and logical ways. It becomes a problem when someone uses it too frequently or to avoid emotion. In those cases, it can affect your mental health negatively.

Okay, so intellectualization running rampant is bad. What to do about it though? Well, according to the pros (i.e. the therapists), you should bring awareness to your feelings and accept the difficult emotions.

If you're like me—a seasoned intellectualizer—that advice is absolutely infuriating.

How the heck should you do that? What does even feeling your emotions mean if thinking about them is not feeling?

Well, my friend, the answer, somewhat surprisingly—at least, to me—, is your bodily sensations.

Turns out, emotions are often felt in the body and the two are so tightly linked that a 2013 article by a group of Finnish researchers found that specific emotions can be mapped to particular regions of the body. What's more, this association was replicable and stayed unchanged across individuals and even different cultures.

They essentially came up with bodily topographies—maps—of basic and non-basic emotions that show which areas show increased or decreased activity while feeling certain feelings.

See the researcher's original figure here and a more user-friendly version made by Healthline here.

So, why is this great if you're a seasoned intellectualizer like myself?

Well, in theory, you could use these maps to reverse-engineer and identify the emotion you're feeling. It's a practical tool that can help you actually accomplish the "be aware of your feelings and sit with it" advice. Instead of sensing some disturbance and going into intellectualization mode with a "Why am I feeling bad?" question, you can ask yourself "What am I feeling?" and get an answer.

Which, hopefully, will also help you to sit with that emotion.

Look, I'm going to be honest: I have no idea if this works or not, but upon reading the research I became super excited and I'll definitely whip out my new body maps the next time I have a hunch I might be feeling something. If you do too, good luck, and let me know how it went.

Anyway, emotions... it's hard stuff. Let's talk about something way easier!

2) We need* to agree on book ratings

I love Goodreads. I use it to track my To Be Read and Finished Books lists. I assign star ratings to everything I read and lately even write short reviews (mostly for myself as reference).

What mildly infuriates me is the inconsistency of our collective ratings, so I welcomed Claire's excellent proposal on assigning stars in a structured manner:

  • ⭐: It was so bad that you did not finish this book.
  • ⭐⭐: You finished it (for whatever reason), but it was a bad time and you will actively warn people against the book.
  • ⭐⭐⭐: It's a good book you enjoyed, but nothing groundbreaking and you will probably forget about the whole thing after you finished it. Still, you will recommend it to people. (Most books are three stars and that's okay.)
  • ⭐⭐⭐⭐: It's an excellent book that stays on your mind long after you finished it. You loved every minute of it and would gladly recommend it to friends.
  • ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐: A masterpiece. One of the best things you have ever read in your life. Something that stays with you for years and permanently alters you in some way. (You only get a few 5-star books in a year and not that many in a lifetime.)

I like this system and the only change I would make to it is reserving my right for vengeful 1-stars. Sometimes I finish a book—because I forget my own first-50 rule**—and it's so bad that I want to explicitly punish it for wasting my time. (Always the book, never the author. We all make stinkers sometimes.)

But other than that, 10/10, no notes.

So, that's it, that's the new unified Goodreads rating system! Please spread the gospel. For it to work we only need to convince a couple million users across the globe. Should be easy, I heard the internet is a super collaborative and not very opinionated place.

  • No we don't. You do you, baby.
    ** If the first 50 pages of a book suck, I put it down and go read something that sparks joy instead. I want to empower you to do the same. Life is too short for books that are not right for you.

3) In the grim darkness of the far future, there is nothing but excellently made fan films

On my way to becoming a god-tier nerd, I took up miniature painting last year, and like many other beginner hobbyists, I started with Games Workshop's Warhammer universe.

The question of "What is Warhammer?" can be either answered very easily ("It's pushing plastic toy soldiers around you assembled and painted yourself.") or in an insanely complex way ("You see, there is a god who is not a god who presides over an empire spanning millions of planets and war never ends, and what did you say, how much time do you have..?").*

So let's not do that now because really, I only want to show you one thing: a short movie made by one person that is so insanely good that instead of hitting him with a cease-and-desist, Games Workshop put the thing on their own streaming service and hired the guy to make more films for them.

The movie is called Astartes and to be able to appreciate it, you only need to know two things:

Astartes refers to the film's protagonists, the Adeptus Astartes—or Space Marines in more colloquial terms. Space Marines are hulking, genetically engineered super soldiers clad in power armor, tasked with the most dangerous missions the empire faces across the galaxy.

Their most feared enemies are the powers of Chaos. Artifacts of Chaos can corrupt and twist human minds, so the empire is hell-bent on securing such items before they can cause Chaos infestations.

And that's it. You now know everything you need to enjoy the movie. While you watch it, please keep in mind that it was made by one person, as a hobby project, and released absolutely free on YouTube.

Sometimes human creativity and skills simply floor me. (Also, please be aware that this is a pretty intense action short movie set in a grim dark universe, so it's definitely NSFW stuff.)

+1) The silly little D&D movie

Look, it's late, you already read so much, I'll keep this short: go, see the new D&D movie, Honor Among Thieves.

If you play Dungeons & Dragons, you will feel very appreciated and the fan service is through the roof without ruining the movie. And if you never played D&D, you will still get a bright, optimistic, and earnest fantasy story that finally breaks with the self-deprecating mockery of the MCU.

You will also meet Themberchaud—my beloved—and believe me, that will be worth the price of admission alone.

And with that, I'm out. Thanks for reading this week's Extremely Unannoying!

If you try the emotion map, let me know how it goes, share your own star rating system for books, and feel free to hit me up to talk Warhammer 40k lore or Honor Among Thieves anytime.

Otherwise, have a nice fortnight, we'll meet again in the next issue!