The Anatomy of Negative Emotions
Whether they are positive or negative, the energy of emotions can seem staggering at times. This is particularly true when there is an aggregate of negative emotion swamping the system, pressing downward on the self. Example: guilt accompanied by anger accompanied by sorrow accompanied by shame, or vice versa. The negative emotions have always been more difficult for me to deal with. Should I suppress or express them? If suppressing, what price will I ultimately pay; ditto, to expressing them? It seems I move lightening fast into some presumed protection mode, frozen in habit, worried about injury to myself or others.
Over the last year I have become aware of said aggregate above when taking on writing jobs that I don’t really want. This also occurs in other circumstances as well. The first emotion to appear has been fear followed by anger followed by rage, ultimately erupting into a Vesuvius from within. While I have wanted to direct the emotion outwards at a manufactured perpetrator, more often than not, the finger gets turned inward towards my small, meager self, wondering why I continue saying ‘yes’ to things I want to say ‘no’ to. “You fool,” I think.
In the case of hired-gun writing, the rationale has almost always been to pay the bills. Sometimes I warp it into some misplaced sense of duty, responsibility, commitment to both self and another, which would not be so wrong if it were not for the fact that I have kept the pattern of agreeing to things that, in my heart, I want to say a resounding NO to. Once this awareness arrives, I feel stupid, ashamed, grief-stricken. Then what happens? I squelch it, pushing it downward, ever deeper, until I recognize a tightly wound knot of negative emotion far worse than the original feelings I suppressed. What’s worse is, in a split second I decide to not feel them. But, of course, they return with a vengeance.
Yet, there is good news here. Once I am in enough pain, I begin correcting things that have contributed to my self-inflicted misery, examining the why’s and wherefores, habits and payoffs (yes, payoffs) I get out of my behavioral conditioning and vow to challenge and change them. Remarkably, at such a turning point, relief begins to surface. It begins subtly. This process allows me to behave differently, to be different. While all of this is glacially slow initially, it builds. With increasing momentum, I become aware of how the positive emotions have far more power, individually and as a collective, to sustain and carry me forward. I even begin to recognize a kind of courage. Upon reaching some critical mass, my heart and mind bursts open, obliterating anything previously perceived as negative.
The Anatomy of Positive Emotions
There is nothing like hope. And hope is followed by joy, which is followed by understanding not only is there choice on how to be; what to say ‘yes’ to and what to say ‘no’ to, I am the only one to make it. For me, this generates a sense of liberation from mental-emotional programs that were set up long ago in the ego-mind.
Once I begin to feel hope, a panoply of lightness spreads. I take enormous comfort in knowing that peace, joy, and love are emerging. I see them not with eyes but with the heart. What’s more, this feels natural, a nature that is sturdy and true. The quality of me is not experienced differently exactly; rather, it is experienced—and witnessed—as a quality that is greater than what I have previously perceived of as a ‘me.’
How do I know this? I recognize it as a state of being. What is first labeled in my mind as a positive emotion is rapidly transformed into the awareness that of my own small self, I cannot create this feeling of freedom and joy, this state of peace. Instead, I am acutely aware that it comes from that which animates me. Call it what you will. What I know is that it comes from something larger, immense and infinite.
I cannot force this state into being either. My role is to seek conditions that will facilitate it. I cannot force myself to be joyful. I can, however, say ‘yes’ to some invisible yearning and allow it in. I can encourage and bring into play those things that have helped joy arrive from previous experiences. Breathtaking music can trigger such a state. Writing my heart out can trigger such a state. Beauty as expressed from a shard of light reflecting off a mountain, an elegant stand of birch trees, the glistening of a child’s eyes in wonder, or the astonishing fragrance of a stargazer lily, and many more things that move the truest part of me can trigger it.
Ever expanding, when this state arrives, however sudden or slow, stillness ensues. I become aware of yet another quality. Language in the form of thinking slows and sometimes even stops, however briefly. Breathing seems to stop or, at minimum, I am unaware of it. It seems that the ‘me’ that is in this state recognizes breathing is not required. The state includes but is not dependent on it, precluding it instead. This state is a quality of that which creates all life having nothing to do with time, yet experienced in it. This expansive state is buoyant, maintained by an infinite lightness. It feels like an unstoppable Love, simply unstoppable. Unstoppable that is, until the state is interrupted. Some other part of me, some manufactured ego-mind ‘me’ stumbles back, inserting itself somehow.
When I come to, I recognize there is a destiny to fulfill, some purpose I am committed to even if I know not its details. You can call it the ‘soul’s business’, spiritual evolution, living out my days on the earth plane, whatever. All I know is that for some wild and wonderful reason, I am to continue in ordinary time until the state of unconditional Love transcends any small self I have previously been operating from. Creation has its own reasons for these earthly opportunities suspended in life form, only to be periodically transfixed by the invisible. I must be patient and am. Mostly! In any particular circumstance, the interruption of such bliss back to daily human affairs requires me to keep moving forward until the next state arrives, until the next piece of beauty renders me breathless, until the next reed of infinite Grace quiets my heart.
So I wait.