Yes, your feelings show you are alive. Congrats—you exist just like everyone else. But your thoughtful, considered actions prove you are living. Your obituary will list the things you have done, the relationships you have built, not the emotions you have felt.
A few weeks ago, a teacher at my kid’s school shared a bit of wisdom that has rocked my world. She taught the kids that there are four mental stages; feeling, thinking, planning, and doing. People can only be in one stage at a time, and people get frustrated when others are in different stages than they are. If you’ve ever had to bite your tongue while you listened to someone vent, you know this is true. If you’ve ever been married, you know this is true. If you’ve ever parented, you know this is true.
Recently, I joined the twitter world to exchange ideas (that’s the “thinking” stage, there) about the concept of Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD) and the impact of this on teen boys. While many people have shared insights and resources, I’ve observed a typical accusation that certain trans-identified people toss out: “You are saying we don’t exist!”
At first, this struck me as a bewildering non-sequitur. Are they really saying because I have different ideas about transgender theories or gender identity, that I must think their bodies aren’t present in the world? How would I explain that their typed grievances are popping up on my screen? Must I subscribe to a complex superstition of phantoms in the machine? Debating the points of trans identity in fact implies the opposite: I don’t spend time arguing about the Loch Ness Monster or fairies or unicorns, because they do not exist.
On second thought, I utilized the old psychology switcheroo to better understand this: projection. This makes sense. These twitter people are actually questioning and barking about their own existence. Somewhere along the line they got stuck. They are frozen in the “feeling” stage, and are under impression that feelings = existence. And deep inside, despite their passionate feelings, they realize that an existence centered on feelings isn’t very satisfying. They worry that they don’t exist.