" I'm happy", "I'm sad", "I'm apprehensive", "I'm enthralled"...these are all words that we use to describe our feelings. If we are lost for words we rely on metaphors such as : "I am knocked out" "I feel blue" or we make up analogies like: "I feel like a bird that has been caged for years and has just been set free." We have come to accept the idea that people are sensitive or over emotional or " wear their heart on their sleeve" or are "very thick skinned" or that with some people it's like "talking to a brick wall". It's surprising that we understand these comments since they are referring to the intangible, yet somehow we do. It is often difficult, however, to express and communicate the essence of what our inner world is experiencing, because we're not always aware of what we're truly feeling.
We know that sometimes we feel overwhelmed by good or bad feelings and this is usually shown by our behaviour. We can find ourselves paralyzed by feeling and unable to do anything at all, and it's really our actions that translate the intangible mystery of feelings into reality. Our actions can be over or under reactive, demonstrating the state of our inner world. (It's interesting that something so invisible can have such a powerful influence on the way we live our lives.) In fact, our emotions play a far greater role in thought, decision making and behaviour than is commonly acknowledged. It's mostly the sweet feelings such as joy, contentment and excitement that become the highlights of our lives. These sweet feelings bring about that seemingly elusive state called 'happiness' that most of us seek.
Feelings can be said to be the "meaning pulse" of life what we feel about something makes it meaningful to us or not. Feelings also come into effect when we operate out there in the world. They help us to have meaningful connections to things and people. Feelings dictate to a large degree how we prioritize our values, making feelings one of the most important determinates in how we experience our lives. Feelings are also a barometer telling us of the state of our soul.
It was Freud who first came up with the phrase "the pleasure principle", which tells us that we automatically move away from pain towards pleasure, making us creatures in pursuit of comfort....
But are we?
If it were that easy and we automatically gravitated towards the positive then surely it would be easy to be happy. Alas it is not always so. It seems that there is a dynamic and very complex conditioning circuit in which our feelings play an important part. When we experience an event at the same time as a powerful emotion, we can become conditioned to associate these two phenomena. These associations create patterns of repetitive behaviour that can be functional or dysfunctional in our lives. For instance, if you were given a thrashing for spilling something at the dinner table as a child, you may tend to remain anxious at a dinner table in your adult life. Conditioning becomes very powerful when it is reinforced and reconfirmed at different stages in your life.
It is my belief that we have been programmed on a soulful and genetic level to blossom and grow in a positive environment from the day we were born. Some of us were fortunate enough to be born into nurturing homes which allowed our full emotional potential to blossom. A large majority of us, however, link parental figures to neglect, abuse and confusion which has inhibited our emotional development. It's like saying a house has been designed to have a certain number of lights and a certain number of power points. In order to light up the whole house and be able to use all the power points, a certain voltage of current is needed. This requirement is not recognized or heeded and a lower current is channeled into the house. Suddenly all the lights and all the power points cannot be used and certain circuits have to be shut down in order for the house to have a little light. This is similar to what can happen to us. We have the potential and the program to receive all the light we require but either the power source is too little, we decided not to shine or something else went askew during our development. If you did not receive enough unconditional love as a child, you need to go back to the source of the wounds to heal your emotions, in order to become ready and able to reclaim your full potential as an adult.
When you are ready to deal with and feel the full range of human emotions, engaging with the world becomes so much richer with many abundant experiences to look forward to.
1. Basic or instinctual survival emotion such as anger and fear (fight-or-flight modes)
2. Physical or sensory emotion, evoked through touch, smell, taste, sight & hearing
3. Learned, conditioned or habitual emotion such as: being criticized always makes you feel angry and/or hurt
4. Intentional emotion achieved through conscious higher thought
5. Pure divine emotion like compassion and bliss
These levels can be seen as dynamic and imply that we all have the ability to experience the full spectrum.
There is, however, a progressive development from 1 to 5 which leads up to the ultimate state. In life we can get stuck on any of the first three levels and never move on. This results in stunted emotional functioning, keeping us from experiencing deep connected-ness to self and others.
It is the conditioned emotional responses, operating closely with our automatic thoughts, that we want to work with. An easy way to decipher your emotional level is to ask: "Is this emotion fear driven or love driven?". Love driven emotions feel light and fluid, like those on level 4 and 5, and result in peace and contentment whereas fear driven emotions, often found on the other levels, are more rigid and result in more fear and insecurity.
Feelings, positive and negative, can be the guiding light to our true selves. You need to face them with courage, knowing that they are less powerful than your true self, to decipher what they are telling you and why? Very often the mere act of acknowledging that you feel a certain way allows you to move from being stuck in that state. Accept your feelings since they belong to you for your highest purpose, then set about centering yourself into good intention. Intention is a mental decision, motivated by a desire or feeling that also involves our free will. Hence, if we hold a good intention, we are combining the best of our mind with the best of our heart, enabling us to come closer to divine emotion. Ask yourself where you are coming from and you can guide yourself gently into a more peaceful and pure state. Let emotions be your friend and your path to balance and soul.
Article courtesy of Megan de Beyer