Sunday, September 27, 2009
Emotion...is it real or is it an illusion? I know that it feels real and that the vast majority of us act on emotion but what is it really? I'm no psych major so please don't expect that I'm about to dig into the psychology of the emotions or the ego. I think the ego may serve it's purpose but it's view is always wrong. Why? Because it generates emotion based on assumptions it likes to call thoughts. You might think that a jaded view but stick with me for just a minute and think about this. We often think of feelings as facts without checking those facts before we spring unwarily into action. That is so unfortunate for so many reasons. Well, that is if you are not a conflict/adrenaline junkie. I believe that feelings are mostly an illusion. Our feelings are based on our perception of something or someone. Our feelings are based on our perception of ourselves. Our feelings are based on our experience...based on our outcomes. Our feelings are based, often, on assumptions that have yet to be validated.
So, how can we tell if a feeling is real, whether the emotion is something we should take to heart or if we should trust what we're feeling at all? Well, fact check your emotions and feelings before you act. Simple right? Not so fast. It gets rather complicated turning our focus to our own thoughts and observing them from a place of detachment long enough to determine which thoughts are based on truth as we see it or which ones are based on assumptions. When you find the assumptions (here's a clue...double check the ones that involve you feeling anything negative about you), deconstruct them with pure and simple logic by asking yourself one simple question...are you ready? Okay, here it is, "Are the thoughts generating my emotions real?" Then, follow up with another question, "How do my thoughts are real thoughts or assumptions?" Consider yourself a detective gathering facts for a court case. As a detective you must validate every fact or it will be of no use for the impending court case. If a fact is not valid, you cannot use it and if you cannot use it, the emotions attached to it must not be real. If the emotions are not real because the facts aren't all checked, the emotion is an illusion and you can let go of that emotion.
So, I'll give you an example. You are driving on the freeway. A woman comes from the right hand side of the freeway, very fast and nearly takes off your bumper. Your thoughts..."That stupid idiot tried to kill me!" Maybe it makes you very angry. Well, let's deconstruct that thought. Do we know for a fact the person is stupid? What they did was probably not the best choice they could have made but it doesn't really make them stupid. So, we can't validate the stupidity. Is the person an idiot? It seems like it from their recent action but we really don't know them so we can't say for sure that the person who just cut you off is an idiot. On the last piece, did the person really try to kill you? Can you say they had intent to kill you with 100% certainty or is there a possibility this individual was distracted by something (probably emotional...LOL) and was careless? When the incident first happens, we could tend to be quite angry because we assumed someone was stupid and tried to kill us. You can line all of your thoughts up with that and chase the woman down, pull her over and yell at her, but what if you're wrong? What if you pulled her over and screamed at her and you noticed she was crying. She tells you she is sorry but she was rushing to the hospital because her child is in the emergency room and she has to get there fast before its too late. How bad might you feel for acting on your assumptions? You have a choice in what you allow yourself to feel and I'm not talking about denying your feelings. I'm talking about checking your "facts" before you let those "facts" give birth to your emotions.
There are many other examples I could give. The romantic arena provides plenty of fodder for this type of discussion. So, the next time you make an assumption and line up feelings about your partner...ask your self some questions like the ones above, discern whether your feelings are fact or assumption based and then act accordingly. Why? Well, because if we all acted on assumptions and we later determine our assumptions are wrong, we have doubled the negative emotions flowing in the world and it just becomes a horrible mess not only for you but now, someone else. It can be avoided if you are so inclined to have such interest.
So, I no longer believe that my feelings are facts. My feelings are based on the thoughts I allow myself to entertain. I don't like negative thoughts or emotions because it wastes the time I could be enjoying life with. So, I sort out the good from the bad by asking questions. Is this true? How do I know? Can I confirm with 100% certainty. If I can't validate my facts, I cut off the emotion and categorize the whole thing as questions I might just need to have answered...staying open to the possibility that I cannot assume or surmise the answers without going to the source.
Just some food for thought.