We cannot control our emotions.
Various psychologists, behavioural scientists, and sundry people in white coats, disagree a little on just how many human emotions there are. They also tend to disagree on exactly what these feelings do to us.
However, trolling through their divergent opinions, and adding a little basic common sense, we can come up with a more or less definitive list of the main human emotions. These are; Anger, Fear, Happiness, Sadness, and Love. Personally I’d add another, I think Lust is a very powerful raw emotion. Or maybe Lust only affects men?
We can call these raw emotions by other, more polite, names. Lust is transformed into desire, and many of us call the feeling of desire Love. How many men have said; ‘I love you’, when what they truthfully meant was; ‘I desire you, I want you’? I know I have fallen into that despicable sexual trap in the past.
For most of us, by far the strongest emotion is . It’s what keeps people in dysfunctional relationships, lousy jobs, and mind numbing routines. We are afraid of change, we fear abandonment, we fear loss of status, most of all we fear death.
Those of us who have, or have had, a psychological / mental illness have an intimate relationship with fear. The emotionally disturbed are often a maelstrom of Fear and Anger.
For aeons the heart was thought to be the seat of emotions, especially Love. Now, most respectable scientists profess that the brain is where emotions live. Although, some left field professors say that the gut is where emotions begin. Me, I’m neither respectable nor a scientist, and the last time I wore a white coat was at a costume party. I don’t know where our emotions live, and I don’t know exactly how they work.
However, I do know where your emotions come from.
Our emotions and instincts are hard-wired into our body, mind, and spirit. They originate as far back in time as when the first thing crawled out of the primeval slime. Emotions and instincts are what drove the survival behaviours of things that could never be described as intelligent life. What do you think drove the raw savagery of Tyrannosaurus Rex? What do you think makes sharks such a successful life-form?
Instincts and raw animal emotions bypass the intellect. Emotions have nothing to do with intelligence and common sense. Emotions are powerful in exactly the same way that thought isn’t. From the moment life began emotions controlled the behaviour of all life forms, and emotions still control human behaviour today.
Intellectually, a man can know that some particular woman is bad for him, yet will he willingly give her up? Probably not because his emotions completely override his common sense. If she thinks about it, a woman may know that it’s stupid to stay with a man who mentally, emotionally, physically abuses her ~ yet how many women are trapped in abusive relationships because their emotions won’t let them leave him?
Most of us will do almost anything to assuage our emotions. Some of us will go to any lengths to satisfy our raw emotions ~ up to and including the death of self and / or others. Emotions are the most powerful driving forces in each of our lives. Positive, or negative, or a mixture of both, we are each controlled by our feelings. All that intelligence and intellect does is to overlay some civilisation on top of our innate savagery.
Me, Us, You, Them, can do something about these emotions that drive our every action. We can’t stop the feelings, and we can’t control the feelings, but we can control what we do.
You may get so angry with your partner that you want to stab them in the eye with a sharp knife. You may fear the outside world so much that you never want to leave your home. You may think you love someone so much that you willingly sublimate your identity just to please them. Yet our intelligence and intellect will eventually tell us that we need to escape into the broad sunlit uplands of rationality.
At that point you may seek counselling, psychiatry, medical help, inspirational speakers and writers, or self-help groups. Trust me, none of that will do you any good at all. These people will probably tell you to control your emotions, and that’s as impossible as turning back the tide.
The only thing we can do is accept these emotions and at the same time unconditionally accept ourselves. We must recognise that life is difficult, painful, and mostly beyond our control. We must be prepared to make some brave choices. Leaving the one you’re with may tear your heart in two, but that’s just a raw primeval emotion, the feelings will pass, and the sooner we make those brave choices the sooner our emotions will stop torturing us.
Your emotions are utterly beyond your control. Your emotions also lie to you. Your emotions may make you feel bad or good, but those are just feelings, they have nothing to do with reality. The reality is that your emotions lie to you, that’s their job, they developed to keep a cave-man alive. In this day and age we need the sense to accept our emotions for what they are, a very broad brush indeed.
See beyond your emotions. See the world in it’s true colours. Enjoy your emotions when they are good, but don’t get carried away. Live with your emotions when they are bad, but accept bad emotions as the storm flags they really are. And, at this time of year, let yourself feel the innocent joy and of love of Christmas.
these thoughts are mine and mine alone