Sunday, September 2, 2007

Pick and Choose Emotions

It is amazing how many people believe or teach that we can as reasoning people pick and choose our emotions that we want to keep. It would be nice to eliminate anger, jealousy, hate, pettiness, and all the other negative emotions and desires.

If only we could be happy, joyful, caring, and content all the time we would not be so frustrated and angry with life most of the time. Some would say an admirable goal in life to control our emotions.

Life is not about controlling our emotions but learning to recognize and live with our emotions without giving into them. We could talk about how love conquers all but then we need to recognize that can bring hate, jealousy, violence, and so on.

I don't know about you but I have found that I can't control what emotions arise at all. All I can do is decide how I will live that emotion when it is present. Do I give into it and take actions based on it or do I let it flow through me knowing that it will pass.

We have the choice of how we handle our emotions but not when or how they happen. We can't eliminate them without dehumanizing ourselves so we need to learn how to live with them. An interesting challenge.

Your thoughts?

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8 conversations:

reasonable robinson said...

Excellent post Peter, you have articulated a puzzle I have had for several years on this issue, particularly since particpating is several self -development courses, including Ole Larsen's ISA and NLP practioner training. I could never get into that 'space' where I could re-frame the situation so that it was devoid of emotion. Might this be because we have 'interests/stakes' in our affairs and an 'identity' to care for?

Random Magus said...

I have an example of a person like that - my mom in law. She's always happy and smiling and once I asked her how she does it. She told me she just doesn't allow the small things to matter to her.

Peter Haslam said...

Yes Reasonable Robinson we have spent a lot of time and effort on our identity but I feel the issue is more fundemantal. Emotion arises because we are human period. It cannot be repressed but we can choose how we express it. Denying it just makes them appear in another form.

Peter Haslam said...

If we consider all things pass Random Magus then all things are small things krudos to your mother in law

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

Nope, I have no control over any of those emotions either. They pop up and then I decide how I'm going to handle them. Most of the time I control them and every once in a while they control me. Not proud about that, but it's the truth.

I think everyone has a line that once crossed one is capable of doing what they never imagined. Excellent post Peter. :)

Peter Haslam said...

Yes Sandee and we try not to reach that line by keeping things in perspective. Not easy at all at times

Vinod_Sharma said...

I think being humans we have the ability to decide which emotions to let in and which to exclude. That requires a lot of hard work, meditation etc, take your pick.It can be learned and this ability is what distinguishes us from other forms of life.The relatively easier thing to do is to excercise the choice of how we handle the emotions that surface involuntarily.

Peter Haslam said...

Even the Dali Lama has emotions. They arise. It is only when we let them flow through us without attachment that we could be said to control emotions through appropriate action. Thank you for your addition Vinod