I used to believe that I was my emotions. Confusion. I did not know then, like I am beginning to understand now, that emotions simply happen. They, like thoughts, are a product of the very human stimulus response system.
When something happens in our context, we have a thought about that happening, and that thought will usher in an emotion. That emotion will be a product of the thought pattern, simple.
However simple that seams, people do not always find it simple to understand how their emotions work. Why is this so? Most people are not taught how to understand their emotions. Why? Because their parents or caretakers did not know how to understand their emotions either. A cycle.
And, the cycle is created again each generation. A large part of why the cycle continues, is that people are afraid of their emotions. Then you have, people that are not taught how to understand their emotions, while also living in fear of their emotions. A very difficult combination. I know, I lived in it most of my adult life.
However, what I have come to realize is that we are not our emotions. We are not, then our fear. We have emotions, we have fear, yet we are not those emotions, or that fear.
In order to understand our emotions, as I’ve written in other posts, we have to look at your feelings, and begin to question why we feel the way we do. Not a simple task. In fact, it can be quite painful. However, on the other side of this pain is release.
A release from the suffering, which may manifest itself as resentment, grief, sadness, anger, frustration, or any other feeling, you’ve been holding onto. Looking into these emotions and their associated feelings is a discovery process, which can enlighten us to new ways to understand our own humanity.
I’ve been looking into my emotions for a couple of years now. In this time, I’ve come to realize that there is nothing to fear about our emotions, and those feelings, which often don’t feel so great. When we take the time needed to understand why we feel as we do, we can begin to heal.
Heal from whatever suffering we’ve been holding onto. And, in our healing we create the possibility that those around us can also heal. How is this so? Because as we begin to understand our feelings, we learn about ourselves. And, in our learning, we create a deeper understanding of other people’s suffering.
When we understand other people’s suffering, because we understand our own, we can stand with them. We can give ourselves compassion, and then give compassion to others as well. Realizations like this, and the associated practical work needed to create this realization, also creates a deeper understanding of the human experience, of which having emotions is a part.
I used to think that the human experience was about “being happy,” or finding my purpose. I’ve since come to realize that happiness, and purpose, like our emotions, live within us. Because they live within us, it is our responsibility to understand how they function. Both pain and happiness, and fear.
However, I’ve also come to realize that though we have fear, like anger or frustration, or any other emotion, we are not our emotions. However, when we hold onto an emotion, like fear, what happens? We get more of it, which is why people become confused, as I once did about anger, believing that they are that emotion. No so.
We are no more our emotions, than we are our thoughts. Emotions happen. They are a reaction to our environment, a response. When we understand this as true on an intellectual level, it is helpful. And, when we understand it on a visceral level, it is freedom.
Freedom from the cage we’ve constructed for ourselves. Cages made of fear, anger, frustration, etc. You are not your emotions, and you are not your thoughts. Therefore, dear reader, you are not your fear. You just are. I take great peace in this knowing, and hope that you might too.