Emotion is nature’s way of allowing us to send information to ourselves about things we do not remember but which we must understand in order to grow.
Emotions are generated in the body by thoughts in the mind, much like waves are generated in the ocean by wind in the atmosphere.
Friction between air and water transfers energy into the ocean. This creates waves. Likewise, the mind is linked to the body and certain thoughts transfer impulses into the body. This creates emotion.
Which explains why the word ’emotion’ means ‘to disturb’ in Latin.
Emotions are ‘disturbances’ in the body much like waves are ‘disturbances’ in the ocean.
Why do certain thoughts create impulses that ripple through our bodies?
The simple answer is that emotions are there to teach us who we really are.
Emotion holds answers to some of the most important questions in our lives.
What are we afraid of? What do we need to understand in order to grow? Who are we?
Emotion can answer that. Within the Church of Inner Space.
If only we knew how to understand emotion. If only we knew not to project emotion onto other people and situations.
Because a crucial understanding missing in today’s world is that, first and foremost, the purpose of emotion is within ourselves.
Our emotion is not meant for the outside world.
Therapists are familiar with the term ’emotional projection’, but few other people talk about it.
And yet we all do it. Every day. Particularly those of us who think we don’t do it.
We project emotion externally onto people, onto situations and even onto objects and ideas, because we do not understand the purpose of emotion. Because we do not know how to handle it.
If we were taught from a young age that emotion is key to understanding ourselves, we would not project it.
We would contemplate it. Appreciate it in revered silence as we if we were reading our most holy book.
But we project emotion because we do not know what else to do with it. Because we do not understand its value for personal growth.
It’s like giving a freshly baked potato to a hungry child who’s only ever had processed potato crisps. The child doesn’t know what a real potato is, so they throw it away.
Likewise, by projecting emotion, we’re throwing away something that’s really meant to help us grow.
Because sometimes it burns like a hot potato and we don’t really understand what it is.
But if we understood the value of a good potato, we would wait for it to cool down and we would be nourished by it.
Emotion serves the same purpose. It provides nourishment and personal growth, provided that we know what it is and what to do with it.
Emotion reveals who we really are.
To look at an emotion, to face it head on, fully aware of what has been provoked within us, without putting it anywhere else, without necessarily attaching words to it, but just feeling it, for as long as it’s there, keeping it within our conscious awareness, without necessarily or immediately trying to share it with anyone else, this is truly knowing ourselves.
Because the origin of our self-awareness is subconscious.
We do not know what shaped us.
From the day we are born all our memories are stored in the subconscious mind. As infants and young children all our thoughts are subconscious. And as adults the subconscious still accounts for over ninety percent of all our thinking.
The subconscious mind is conditioned by the past and its primary purpose is to respond automatically to dangerous situations.
The subconscious mind can recognise a dangerous situation and make us run before we’ve even had time to realise we’re running. It can mean the difference between life and death in a situation where conscious thoughts take too long to formulate.
These reflex actions have saved many lives.
But, left unchecked, the subconscious mind can also destroy life. Because there some things that it simply does not understand.
Addictions are a good example of subconscious-self-protection leading to self-destruction.
Early childhood difficulties, abuse or just plain suffering at a very young age, can make us want to escape our harsh reality, in order to save ourselves. But, what the subconscious doesn’t understand is that we’ll always end up destroying ourselves if we’re trying to escape from life itself.
Early childhood experiences shape us by shaping the subconscious foundation for our awareness. It’s only after enough subconscious thought has been generated that self-awareness can emerge. This will be around the time we start having our first clear memories.
This self awareness is our ego. It’s what gives us an awareness of what’s happening in the world around us.
And while we are aware of ourselves and what’s happening now, we are not aware of what shaped that self awareness in the first place.
Those early childhood experiences remain largely mysterious.
And that mystery is the very foundation out of which our self awareness emerged.
Which is why emotion is so important. Emotion is an imprint of something important that happened to us before we had enough awareness to remember that it happened.
Where do our addictions come from? Why do we punish ourselves by working too hard? Why do certain small insignificant things irritate us so much? Why do certain people provoke us more than others? Why do we end up in abusive relationships? Why do we find ourselves in the same difficult situations, again and again? Why do we do what we do? Why are we depressed? Why are we restless? Why are we lonely?
All of this is the result of subconscious thinking.
Many of us would laugh at this idea, but then we’d also laugh if a quantum physicist told us that reality is an illusion of light waves and vibration. Most of us would laugh at the suggestion that even the heaviest physical matter is more than 99% empty space.
And yet that’s the truth.
We laugh at concepts we don’t understand. But every therapist knows from first hand experience that early childhood experiences are responsible for almost all our behavioural patterns.
We like to think of ourselves as independent-thinking decisions-making beings, but we don’t realise how much of our thinking is subconscious. Ninety percent is a conservative estimate.
Our opinions, political affiliations, religious beliefs, likes and dislikes for food, music, clothes, people, our career choices, hobbies, relationships, the list goes on and on…
These are all motivated subconsciously. If it sounds unbelievable take a good look at the advertising industry.
If we truly want to grow into responsible decision making beings we must first understand that we are largely motivated subconsciously and that emotion is key to understanding ourselves.
Whatever emotion we feel, it’s essentially a timeless imprint of a subconscious thought conditioned into place by early childhood experiences.
Just as we can tell which direction a particular wind was blowing by looking at the direction of the waves it generated, we can tell what motivates us subconsciously by looking at the emotions we feel in response to certain situations.
We don’t need to observe the wind to understand its nature. We can look at its waves. Likewise we don’t need to remember exactly what happened to us as an young children, or infants, to understand our subconscious.
We can simply look our emotions.
By understanding those emotions we understand who we are, why we do what we do, and what shaped us.
More importantly we can stop doing those unwanted things we are unable to stop doing.
Addictions. Destructive relationships. Uncontrollable anger. Depression. Constant irritation. Restlessness. Loneliness. Pessimism. Or whatever else we no longer wish to experience.
By understanding emotion we can heal these wounds and live happier more peaceful lives.
But we cannot do that if we project emotion.
And there’s a huge difference between trying to understand emotion and projecting emotion. Just as there is a huge difference between watching a play, and acting as a character in that play.
The actor playing the role has no time to contemplate the meaning of the play. Not while they’re acting.
And while watching a play can be a great way to deepen our understanding of life, imagine the unfortunate actor who can never let go of their character.
Yet this is what most of us do in our everyday lives. By always projecting emotion. We’ve become so busy playing our parts in the cosmic drama that we forget to contemplate the meaning of it all.
When we project emotion we become actors for life, unable to step our of character. And when we’re constantly acting out our emotions, like an actor on stage, we’re busy. We move, we talk, we’re engrossed in the act.
While to contemplate the play we must be quietly watching it.
Similarly, to contemplate an emotion, we must be quiet. We need to watch the emotion as its happening. Not necessarily completely silent, but at least quiet enough to feel what is happening inside.
Our emotion is meant for us. Not for others.
To understand ourselves. To understand where we come from. To understand what shaped our self awareness. To understand why we do what we do. To understand who we are.
And we’re never meant to suppress emotion. Emotion must come into full conscious awareness. This is the purpose of silent contemplation and meditation.
And it is also the purpose of sharing emotion. To become aware of it. Music, plays, films, art and intimate conversations, that’s what it’s all about.
And quite often we do project emotion while sharing it. The question is, are we aware that it’s a projected emotion? Are we aware that paying attention to what we feel inside is more important than what we say or do?
Because sharing and projecting emotion is different in one fundamental way.
Sharing always follows after a continued awareness of the emotion itself. This awareness can be in the background while we’re busy doing other stuff, or it can become a full meditation. This awareness allows for sharing to happen after the emotion has passed through us, even if the sharing and the emotion is only separated by a moment.
While projection happens immediately. There is no momentary of awareness of the emotion itself. There is only the projection. Like a convincing actor, there is no actor. Only the character.
To truly understand ourselves we must step out of character. We must look at ourselves.
We must look at our emotion.
And not look at the world with our emotion.
This is the subtle difference between talking about emotion and talking with emotion. Are we aware of what we are feeling before we act upon that feeling?
It can make or break conversations, relationships, lives and populations.
Whatever emotion we feel is always saying something about us.
Emotion is nature’s way of allowing us to send messages to ourselves about things we do not remember but which we must understand in order to grow.
To heal our wounds and grow toward the highest vision we’ve ever had of ourselves.