The Power of Emotional Choice

Although it seems that there are many sources of emotional pain, there is, in fact, only one source. No group of people or segment of society has it any easier or more difficult than any other. Many people, regardless of their background, are subject to unresolved psychological and/or emotional pain from the past.

Feelings about the past are experienced in the present only when we think of certain incidents from our past, whether recent or as far back as early childhood. The feelings we had when the incidents took place are carried into our present experience only by our current thinking, (which can become habitual). When we are denied support or permission to feel and deal with the emotions, thoughts, and feelings of our past experiences, they can become problematic.

There are many methods of coping that people turn to in attempting to deal with unresolved emotional issues. Here is a list of some of them:

  • Alcohol – excessive drinking or alcoholism
  • Drugs – prescribed or otherwise
  • Relationships – seeking comfort in
  • Sex – escapism/peak experience
  • Compulsive talking
  • Focussing on the needs of others – co-dependently
  • Turning to religion in order to avoid feelings
  • Denial – psychological and/or emotional
  • Keeping extremely busy – mental distraction
  • Food
  • Pursuit of financial gain
  • Excessive exercise

We are free to choose one or more of these options, but ultimately, they all have an almost inevitable propensity to worsen our situation.

Improving our situation is about making better decisions. At any time, we have the power to choose to stop our own suffering. However, doing so is contingent on the simple understanding that the circumstances and consequences of our present emotional, psychological, spiritual, and sometimes physical situation are a direct result of the actions that we have taken based on our emotional state, which is always the result of our perception of the world in which we live.

Our perception is the direct result of our very own personal thought reactions and thought processes. Or, simply put, our thoughts, (habitual or otherwise), determine our perception of the world through which we react or respond to emotionally, causing us to act in certain ways, which in turn bring about our current situation, (consequences).

When we understand how that works, and that emotions do not exist to cause us pain, (only the experience of them is uncomfortable), we become better equipped to feel our emotions, allowing them to inform us in such a way that we become a little wiser.

When we take the time to experience, (feel), the painful emotions that come to us, they dissipate quicker. It is then up to us to let those hurtful emotions go and when they return through our thoughts of past events, as they surely will, we repeat the simple practice of allowing ourselves to feel them, they will again dissipate quicker than they do when we choose to dwell on our thoughts about those events.

To fully experience the natural occurrence of all of our emotions can lead to untapped wisdom. Thus, to those so inclined, it can also be used as a spiritual practice to the same end. To deny or try to hide from our emotions is to work against our own emotional and psychological well-being, which can lead only to mental illness.

When we understand the process by which an incidental experience causes an emotional response to instantaneous thought reaction about a current event, which, in turn, will lead to our subsequent action, we can see why it is wise to count to ten before we do anything – especially in difficult circumstance. The same rule applies to drinking alcohol or taking drugs, or overeating, or any other behaviours that we may have turned to in order to cope with difficult emotions.

Life becomes easier when we remove ourselves from situations that have or could cause us pain. That may come down to a deliberate choice. Compulsive or addictive habits can never bring about an improved situation; emotional health happens when we accept and embrace all of our emotions. We can choose to throw away a thought that troubles us when we have taken the time to fully experience the emotions that we have attached to the thought – if that’s relevant.

Of course, if we have been avoiding our feelings for a long time, it may seem that an enormous amount of courage will be required to allow ourselves to feel the emotions. But, it probably takes far more courage to carry on down the road of denial and dependency.

Surely the experience of sitting with the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that we have around certain events and fully feeling whatever is there, and letting it all go, will take far less time than living the rest of our days denying, avoiding, and struggling with our pain.

It is healthy to fully experience and feel our emotions. Pain is inevitable. But, when we learn to go with the flow of emotions as they arise, we will find that they will fall away as new emotions come to us. Our emotional experience can thus be viewed as an ever-changing, fluid landscape. We are far more likely to feel and enjoy the so-called positive emotions when we allow the so-called negative emotions to flow through us.

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