The Trap of Emotion Outsourcing

Yesterday, Twitter was abuzz over this conversation between Will and Jada Smith where they were addressing, among other things, rumors which had broken out in the preceding weeks about a supposed affair between the latter and singer August Alsina. To sum up the nearly 10 minutes video, Mrs. Smith did admit to having an affair, or an "entanglement" as she put it, with Mr. Alsina after the two had become close over the time Mr. Alsina had sought refuge with the Smith family when he was going through his own issues.

As is customary, the conversation between the Smiths brought with it a whole of opinions and analysis from strangers on the internet who know nothing about what is happening within the walls of the Smith household. The conversation within the faux Twitter marriage counselors' circles seemed to be focused on whether the sit-down between the Smiths was proof of the seamless communication in their marriage or whether the whole thing showed the cunning and manipulative ways of the Smith matriarch.

It seemed like everyone was all concerned about the Smiths and didn't think that much for Mr. Alsina. Poor Mr. Alsina. A then 22-year old, going through the most in life, finding solace in the hands (and more) of the then 44-year-old Mrs. Smith, falling in love with her and then having it all reduced to an "entanglement". Oh, how horrible of Mrs. Smith, right? How dare she takes advantage of a vulnerable Mr. Alsina and lead him on, right?

Now, I am no arbiter of matters of the heart and will offer no comment on the morality of Mrs. Smith's actions which have deemed "predatory" among other things by the keyboard psychologists. What I will comment on, however, is emotion outsourcing as displayed by Mr. Alsina in this love triangle when he "fell in love" with a married woman who then got chastised by the ruthless internet mob.

Simply put, emotion outsourcing is relying on or letting other people make one feel some particular way. Be it feelings of love, happiness, anger, etc emotion outsourcers can't, or won't, accept and handle the responsibility of either conjuring up those emotions themselves in the case of desirable feelings or stopping those emotions in the case of undesirable emotions. In short, emotion outsourcing is more or less a form of codependency.

Reasons why people choose to outsource emotions vary a whole lot. Sometimes, like in Mr. Alsina's case, a person might feel like their mental state does not allow them to conjure up desired emotions themselves so they choose to seek out a source of that emotion. Sometimes the person, like in a codependent relationship, might be so accustomed to getting those desired emotions from somewhere else that having to conjure them up themselves seems like mission impossible for that individual. Sometimes, in the case of undesirable emotions, the person might be of the view that those emotions are the result of other people's actions and not their fault.

Regardless of the reason, the bottom line is that emotion outsourcing is a terrible concept and the reasons for that are as extensive as the reasons why people choose to outsource emotions in the first place. The first and probably most important is that when it comes to emotions, no one should be able to control them for you, be it desirable or undesirable emotions. As Kanye West put it, "no one man should have all that power!" over you.

When you give someone the power to make you feel a particular way, you are basically assuming the role of a puppet dancing to the strings of a puppeteer. You surrender your individuality, your liberty. You surrender your whole self and become just a tool to be used as who you gave the power to dictate how you feel pleases. Think about how much power an angry person gives the person who has made them angry. Think about the power a person who is love and relies on their partner for feelings of validation has given that partner.

Outsourcing emotions might seem like the easiest and most convenient construct because it requires zero effort and most people hate being responsible and accountable for, well, anything including their own emotions. But is it worth it, though? My opinion is, ABSOLUTELY NOT!

When your anger spirals out of control and you end up doing things you later regret, you are going to wish you had been more in control of your emotions. When that partner you have been outsourcing feelings of appreciation from breaks your heart and you go down a dark path of emotion hurt, you are going to wish you had been more in control of how you felt about them. 

No one but you should be responsible for any and every emotion you experience and feel. Do not fall for that convenience trap of emotion outsourcing. It will end in tears, as Mr. Alsina will probably tell you.


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