Vivid, not real

I have something to say that may freak you out, doubt yourself or even make you scoff in disbelief.

Your Emotions are vivid, and yet not real.

What do you mean, not real? Aren’t my emotions real?

Short answer- No, my friend, they are not.

And

Yes, in fact, they are.

But they happen without the reasons we usually ascribe to them. I remember in grad school, I had a great professor who always liked to remind us, “Humans are great at knowing something painful is happening, and terrible at attributing the cause correctly!”.

Here is what happens: We stub our toe, and a flash of emotion burns through us. We might feel anger, embarrassment or something too quick to even name. Then the problem begins, because usually what happens next is a story we tell ourselves ABOUT our experience. “Who left that chair there?”- blame  “Why am I so stupid?” shame “Stupid chair!!” rage/blame

We all have this misunderstanding and it happens to us every single day. In fact, our brains are apparently wired to assign incredibly elaborate causes to painful events. If you think about it, it makes sense. If we are wired to avoid pain, we will want to quickly understand how our why it happened to avoid it again. Think about those secret agreements you make with yourself silently- “I’ll never do that again.” “Note to self- don’t trust (fill in the blank).” “Those people are always…..”

Our feeling responses have physical sensations, cause outward movement and behavior, but the stories that we tell ourselves about the event take us out of actually moving through the event. This is the main point- that if we allow ourselves to feel the pain, embrace it as much as possible “this is happening, this is happening” it moves on much, much more quickly. Don’t believe me? The next negative emotion you have – try sitting in it for a moment, breathing the full sensation in, noticing your stories and thoughts about the event without sticking to them, and see what happens.

Our emotions are vivid, and not real. Once we master this particular tangle of perception and reasoning in ourselves we begin to see through the stories we tell ourselves about our lives and begin to truly live.

 

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