Reframing EmotionsMarch 1, 2010
For many people, there are “good” emotions and “bad” emotions. Good emotions “make” us feel better, bad emotions “make” us feel worse. (“make” only because we identify with them as “mine”)
As we’ve been discussing recently, people have the habit sometimes of dwelling in their “bad” emotions. Staying in a place of discomfort, mainly because it’s familiar. Or it may distract us from how we really feel. I know people who maintain a constant state of fatigue, requiring coffee to function, for similar reasons. If we stay inside our little box, we’ll be safe from how we really feel. Like our true feelings were a bogey man.
If we allow ourselves to experience our emotions more openly, we’ll find some have a more constricting quality. Feelings of fear and shame for example, make us feel small. Feelings of joy and love make us feel more expanded. This is a deeper aspect of why we judge some emotions as “bad” – they make us feel more constrained, lesser.
What’s notable here though is that it’s not the emotion itself that brings this “bad” response. It is the minds response to the experience. If we are identified with a mental concept of a “me” or ego, mind as me feels limited by sadness so judges it “bad”. In fact, if the mind takes itself to be in charge, everything in our experience is labeled and categorized, usually in an either/or black and white way. This is all mind. It is not the emotions doing this, although emotions may be associated.
Put another way, it is our reaction to emotions that causes us to judge them, to resist them, and to suffer by them.
This aspect of suffering becomes much more clear when you begin to see the drama and turmoil, when you begin to step out of it. In a way, we fear the experience of our suffering because it’s worse than we’ll recognize. In another way, the escape is much easier than we know. That brief phase where we become aware of it, learn to step through and release it, and come to peace can be a bumpy period but one well worth the effort.
You may also have noticed how I differentiate between love and Love. Small love is an emotion. When we begin to experience divine Love, we discover that even the lofty emotion of love is still a constriction, a boundary on infinity. When we step into divine Love, we discover the deeper roots of feeling that are without boundaries, that place with no constriction on being.
This is when we move into a place where feelings are just energy, flowing through our life. While emotions will still arise and constrict some aspect of experience, it will no longer restrict who we are. Just an aspect of the experience. We remain boundless and free, whatever the waves on the surface.