To Experience Emotions (part 1)

Today, I want to take a dive into the Truth about human emotions.

  • What does it mean to ‘experience’ emotions?
  • Why are feelings and emotions ‘challenging’?
  • Why are some people afraid of their own emotions, and those of others?
  • What, exactly, does it mean to ‘identify’ our feelings?
  • Why is it that people expect to be able to ‘deal with’ their feelings and emotions?

As I write this, I feel like I might have just entered into something that I could easily get lost in. So, before I get bogged down in this feeling, I’ll give here, in part one, my short answer to these questions and then see where this goes afterwards, in part two.

So, what does it mean to ‘experience’ emotions?

This is natural and it happens to all creatures. Some people believe that humans are the only species that can experience feelings and emotions. This simply is not true. Feelings and emotions are a fact of life.

However, it seems that, for a great many, the unobserved truth is that all humans feel only according to that which is the predominant thought, whether immediate or in the long-term.

Why are feelings and emotions ‘challenging’?

Simply put, feelings are the direct result of emotions. We can speak of the emotions of happiness or sadness and the correlating feelings are happy or sad.

Emotions have become ‘challenging’ because we have learned to view them as complicated and as something to overcome, suppress, or ‘handle’.

Another misunderstanding is the result of the language we learn to use in relation to our feelings. If we have feelings of happiness, we learn to say, “I am happy”, and if we have feelings of sadness, we learn to say, “I am sad”.

The truth is that no one is ever happy, or sad, but we all have the capacity to experience the entire spectrum of feelings and emotions, including happiness or sadness. To say “I am [any feeling or emotion]” is definitive and conclusive, meaning that we identify with our feelings and believe ourselves to ‘be’ whichever feeling we conclude that we are, but we are not. Not ever. It is impossible to ‘be’ any emotion or feeling.

Why are some people afraid of their own emotions, and those of others?

This situation is brought about by the fact that society conditions the vast majority of people to suppress their emotions. Our parents do it, our teachers do it, and even our friends do it. I hasten to add that this is another seemingly unobserved fact and those who play their part in teaching others to suppress their emotions do so without realising what they do or why they do it, almost without exception.

This results in self-conditioning. We learn to judge ourselves and others harshly for ‘daring to express feelings and emotions‘. This ‘fear’ is compounded by the fact that people rarely learn to ‘face’ the so-called ‘challenge’ that the experience of emotions is supposedly causing. If we can’t do that for ourselves, how can we expect to feel comfortable when others express their emotions? Can you see the cycle of reinforced suppression here?

What, exactly, does it mean to ‘identify’ our feelings?

Everything has to have a tag, a label; a way for it to be identified. This is another fallacy that society puts on her people, (although it can be handy to identify a chair if I want one to sit on).

When it comes to the inner experience, it is extremely beneficial to observe the experience – and just that; observe. Nothing more.

Our attempts to ‘identify’ and classify our feelings and emotions keep us busy – and an entire industry has grown around the idea that we should be able to identify our emotions. Because then we will be more able to ‘handle’ them.

If, indeed, it is a fact that feelings and emotions are inevitable, (and I’m sure they are), then surely it follows that there is nothing we can do to stop them. If you ask, who’s talking about stopping them? I can only ask in return, “if the goal of ‘dealing with’ emotions is not to stop them, then what is the struggle all about?”.

Why is it that people expect to be able to ‘deal with’ their feelings and emotions?

I think I’ve probably answered this above. Simply put, we are conditioned to believe that everyone around us is able to deal with their inner experience.

When we feel sad, hurt, or any other way that doesn’t feel good, we want only to feel better. That’s quite natural. But, it’s not the problem. The confusion lies in the idea that we can do anything about our emotions

I’ll let you into a little secret, but only if you promise not to tell anyone – except all your friends.

Are you ready?

There is no mental or emotional state that is permanent if we allow the experience to move through us – which means to allow the experience to come and go. Sometimes that can take a few minutes, a few hours, or a few days, but emotions, feelings, and mental states are transient by their very nature.

If what you are feeling does not pass, it may be that you are falling into the trap of trying to do something about it.

We arrive here at the ultimate conclusion; there is nothing to do.

I truly mean that. It’s not a gimmick or a nice, catchy thing to say, and I certainly don’t mean that it’s time to wallow in self-pity, rumination, and depression. What I do mean is that we don’t have to ‘sit with it’ or get curious about it, or anything else that we might ‘do’ with our intellectual striving for solutions. We need to forget that nonsense. There is not even a need to ‘try’ to experience our emotions; that we will is a given fact of life. They are emotions – sometimes weak, sometimes strong – but we can live with them just because they are there. If we were not meant to live with them as part of the overall internal experience, we would never know of their existence.

Part 2 will be posted soon.

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