Over the centuries Western culture has gotten very skewed in its comfort with and acceptance of certain emotions. Anything happy to the point of manic is great so let’s celebrate with our friends and family by going out and buying things (food, drink, experiences such as movies or games….) Fear is also good as long as it encourages us to buy things. Fear of not looking good enough buys cosmetics and skin care products and exercise packages and surgeries. Fear of not looking abundant enough drives car, clothing, jewelry and home sales. Fear of not having the best, brightest, or newest thing drives pretty much all electronics sales. You get the drift here.
On the even less healthy side of things, we’re taught actual emotions are to be hidden and controlled, either not expressed or expressed only through acceptable forms. Like buying things to express our feelings instead of actually expressing them (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Christmas….). Or soldiering on even though we’re grieving and everything about us just wants to cave in. Or hiding the actual fear of becoming a new parent. Or moderating joy at the achievement of a long-time goal.
Emotions are seen as interfering with the life of the mind. They refuse to be controlled, they have a rhythm and rhyme all their own, and they are often overwhelming. They are a direct conduit to our true selves leaving us vulnerable to all around us. This is the core of the issue with emotions. They are unapologetic expressions of our soul’s experience of this embodied life in each moment. They take us out of thinking and put us right in the middle of being in all its discomfort and ecstasy and revelation. They rip through our carefully crafted defenses and excuses and deafen us with the truth. They refuse to build from one to the other in a logical progression or even to acknowledge the past or the future. Each now is just…now…regardless of what happened just a moment ago or what is coming next.
But here’s the thing. Over all these centuries we’ve built up fear around experiencing our emotions because they aren’t controllable and they defy our constructed worlds. We’ve made them into the opposite of the mind and logic and turned them into the enemy which needs to be defended against. No wonder we’re always seeking happiness and never finding it. It’s an…