Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Feelings and Emotions

  I've been thinking about the difference between feelings and emotions.  Let me start by pointing out the various elements which make up a person: heart, soul, mind and body.  I was realizing earlier that I have always thought myself to be like the Giving Tree.  That was my mind.  Deeper inside me, I've always felt like a tree stump, incapable of giving anything to anyone.  That was my heart.  Even deeper than that, I've always known myself to be a completely healthy tree full of fruit.  That is my soul.  Unfortunately, my body is left to try to live out what I think about myself, while actually living out what I believe about myself.
  I am coming to a place where I understand that emotions actually come from the mind.  They are quick to come and quick to go.  They come because of a passing desire that has not been met or a thought that has been countered.  Things such as affection, romance and infatuation come from the mind and are only passing emotions.  You do not choose to be infatuated or to feel romantic.  Those emotions come about because of something that you think you would like to have.  It all stems from the mind.
  The heart is where feelings come from.  Feelings arise from life choices you have made.  You choose how you will feel about something based on whether or not it fits in with preferences you have.  Your preferences come from the examination of experiences you have had.  These choices that you make are from a larger picture than specific situations might show the mind.  Let me illustrate with the example of a child crying because he didn't get the bicycle that he wanted for his birthday.  If it was just a passing desire that was unfulfilled, the tears will come and go easily.
  Now, let's look at this same scenario from a different perspective.  Let's say that this boy has been running a paper route all year.  He has a hand-me-down bike from his older brother, which is not in good condition.  He'd like to have a better functioning bicycle to get around with.  All year he has saved the money he made from his paper route, but can't easily go to the store to buy a new bike.  He has given the money to his parents to buy it for him.  Now, imagine that they bought him a new leather jacket instead because winter is coming and they think he should have something warm to wear.  His reasons for crying in this situation might be completely different.
  If he can examine this experience and recognize the larger issues at hand here, he might recognize the unfairness of his parent's choice.  He might see the broken trust as well as the neglect of his parents.  If they thought he needed something warm to wear, why wouldn't they buy it for him with their own money?  Are they not caregivers of his?  He might also see the disrespect in that they didn't ask him first if he might not rather have a jacket than a bicycle.  He is now in a position to make life choices bases on his experience.  He might choose never to be unfair, untrustworthy, neglectful or disrespectful.  This way, he will never hurt someone in the ways that he has been hurt.
   Years down the line, if for example, his wife cheats on him, he will have these preferences in his heart and will understand the broken trust issue that has come into his life again.  He will have a deep feeling about the situation and not just a passing emotion of sadness due to an unfulfilled desire.
  When I was growing up, I chose to shut off, not only my feelings, but my emotions as well.  I made a home within my mind.  I didn't want to have to experience the pain of what my parents inflicted on me.  Unfortunately, this caused me to miss out on being able to fully experience anything I went through.  In not feeling it, I never examined the roots of my problems.  I never internalized the larger issues involved.  Fairness, respect, love, compassion and other virtues were never instilled into me because I never felt the loss of them so I never fought for them.
  All of life was reduced to a million little passing desires that went unfulfilled and the passing emotions that came and went as a result.  That is why today, a million little things go wrong in my life and I never know how to prevent them or even see them coming.  If I understood even just one of those virtues, I could keep myself from acting in ways that would not be upholding virtuosity.  Often I lament that it would take a tremendous mental capacity to keep in mind all the millions of ways things could go wrong.  Now that is true, but it is also true that it would only take a little heart to keep anything from being hurtful.

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