Silence your emotions!

Several years ago I wrote a blog post that argued that we cannot trust our feelings. (I can’t seem to track that damn post down, however, so no link.) This viewpoint—the distrust of emotion—is at odds with beliefs prominent in our society and especially our entertainment. Think of Obi-Kenobi telling Luke to trust his feelings. Of the general hippy adage “If it feels good, do it.” (I’m not sure a hippy ever actually said that.) Modern society still is in the throes of European Romanticism. We still want to believe feeling something means that it is true.

For myself, over the past couple years, I’ve been moving away from that belief. It simply isn’t hard to catch your feelings lying to you and quite often—telling you that you’ve been slighted when you haven’t, that you’re afraid when there’s really no need etc.

I’ve been reading an interesting book entitled “Emotional Awareness.” It is a transcribed converstaion between the Dalai Lama and Paul Ekman, a psychologist. At one point Ekman says:

When most people experience an emotion or act emotionally, they are not conscious of doing so. They could not tell you, because they do not know themselves, “What I am doing now is acting fearful,” or, “acting angry.” It is not that they are unconscious. But they are not observing themselves and realizing, Maybe that really is a coiled rope and not a snake, and I do not need to be so afraid. To be conscious of that, we would have to acquire this ability which nature does not give us.

In essence, Ekman is arguing we need to learn to see the past the deceptions of our emotions. I find this view, so contrary to Romanticism, interesting and appealing. I might even say, “It feels right.” ;)

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