May 29, 2010

Illusions and Emotions Anonymous

Einstein once remarked that we humans experience ourselves as being apart from others; we think that our thoughts and feelings are for us alone to control. We try to make life more certain by controlling our thoughts and feelings. (I would add that some of us try to control others, at least indirectly.) But control of thoughts and feelings only causes us to judge others harshly, and to be harsh with ourselves. All this controlling creates illusions about ourselves and the world that put us into a solitary cell, with ourselves as chief jailor.

In EA, when we finally hit our “bottom”, we come to see that it was the way we rejected ourselves and our emotions that made us prisoners in our own skin. Adapting AA’s 12-steps to the emotions, we find keys that let us out of our self-imposed prison and help us connect with others.

I translate EA’s powerless statement to this, “I am powerless over my emotions; by attempting to take control of this God-given guidance system, I have made my life terrifically unmanageable!”

Here is the wonderful paradox: There is an open place in my heart that is vulnerable and soft. If I try to control it, it becomes corrupted, or fights back. I am made very lonely and more afraid when this happens. If instead we each sit with our tendernesses, our emotions, without denying them or trying to fix them, we are connected with others. The force that connects us is heartfelt compassion—our capacity to feel the pain we have in common with other beings.

It is important to remember that being compassionate is counterintuitive for many of us! To be compassionate is to be willing to sit with our emotions with awareness and acceptance. As we learn tolerance compassion for ourselves, we find real solutions to our problems that do not keep us on the rat's wheel, endlessly attempting to micromanage our emotions.

1 comment:

  1. I like the idea of feeling what I feel, whether good or bad emotions, and letting those flow through me. I think denying my emotions stops them up inside which isn't healthy.


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