Monday, July 25, 2016

Feelings Are Not Facts – Unless You Want Them To Be

When I was an elementary school student – maybe 4th or 5th grade – my older brother and I went to see “The Thing from Another World,” with James Arness (Matt Dillon of ‘Gun Smoke’ fame) in his first role as the “Tbing.” It was scary to us. You have to remember this was in the early 1950s. As we walked home that evening, it was dark and the streets of Artesia, NM were dark and deserted. We tried to ignore our frightened feelings. We walked slowly. Tried to whistle while we walked. Slowly, however, we moved off the sidewalk and out into the empty streets. Then our pace began to pick up a little – just a little, then a little more. Finally, a cat (or something) rattled a trash can, and – boy howdy -  we were off like rockets. We raced all the way home.
Our anxiety over monsters and invisible boogey men had finally been responded to with our running bodies and suddenly the feelings we had had become facts. The faster we ran, the scareder we became.
I think each of you can identify with that phenomenon.
There are helpful emotions we all harbor. These can all be boiled down to emotions tied to Love or to Fear. Each emotion, however, is like a diamond having many light-catching facets. Love consists of the major sub-emotions of Acceptance, Joy, Peace, Compassion, Courageousness, Serenity, etc. Fear consists of Apathy, Guilt, Anger, Hate, Lust, Envy, Pride, etc. But each of these sub-emotions consists of a variety of fleeting feelings.
For example, the sub-emotion Acceptance consists of appreciation, balance, consideration, delight, elation, friendly, gentle, gracious, mellow, open, playful, tender and understanding. The sub-emotion Anger consists of being argumentative, defiant, frustrated, harsh, hostile, impatient, mad, mean, petulant, rude, spiteful, stern, vengeful, and willful.
These feelings are not factual – unless I want them to be. When I begin to voice these feelings to others and they begin to join in the conversation with me, slowly these fleeting feelings become facts.
I cannot (nor do I want to) control my major emotions. Nor can I control having fleeting feelings. I can, however, control the transition from feelings-as-non-facts to feelings-as-facts. I can do that by acknowledging to myself that I am feeling thus and thus and reassuring myself that these are instant, fleeting egoic feelings. I do not suppress them, nor do I give voice to them. When I give these feelings voice, I give them a certain kind of reality. Slowly I begin down a very slippery emotional slope – just like my brother and I did when we began picking up our pace until we were running headlong out of sheer terror.
When I control this transition from feelings-as-non-facts to feelings-as-facts, I am reminding myself that I am not a body nor am I what I think. I am an already-loved eternal spirit (my True Self) simply having a human experience. I am cared for. I am loved. I am whole. I am Light. I am at one with all other living creatures. I am at peace.

#4 Jul 2016
Copyright 2016

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