Emotions can be used as an indicator of where we are in our life and should be used like those reflectors in the highways. You know the ones I’m talking about. They keep you in the lane, or slow you down before a railroad crossing. My sisters always used to say “You’re driving by braille again!” That, is an excellent idea!
We are all emotional beings. God gave us the gift of emotions, I suspect, at the same time He gave us the gift of knowledge. Gift or bane? I suspect we were never meant to exist with feelings running our lives. I suspect that with knowledge and choice came a way for us to stay on track and that our emotions and feelings are the guidelines for doing that.
So what are we using our emotions for? Do we use our emotions to determine what the quality of our life is and as the end answer to “How am I today?” Or do we use our emotions to guide us, to show us where and when we are off track? Do we use them as a compass to guide us back to where we all want to be which is a state of happiness or joy?
As a society we tend to give in to “reacting”, rather than “responding”, to our emotions. It is in responding to our emotions, letting them guide our responses rather than be the catalyst for our reaction that we bring ourselves back to where we want to be in living a spiritual life day to day.
C.S. Lewis, the renowned author and don from Oxford University in England had it right in his writings, The Problem of Pain, and later in A Grief Observed. “Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Pain, sadness, hurt, anger, frustration all of those feelings that don’t feel good should be that megaphone in your head. It should be that megaphone that announces to you in a voice that will not be ignored every time that you are off track. Just like those reflectors on the road that are a sudden jolt in the pit of your stomach. I suspect these emotions are telling us to pay attention! That we are off track in our lives, both spiritual and day to day.
I ran across a newspaper from the late 1800’s buried deep with in a crumbling wall. What was so interesting and amazing to me was that right there in the newspaper in front of my eyes were the very steps that we as a society should have continued to follow. But then religion and spirituality was far more the norm and played a bigger part in our lives then than it does now. We knew to count to 10 before we spoke. We knew that to engage in verbal warfare in the end made us feel worse than we did before we said anything. We knew that if we had nothing nice to say not to say anything. We knew to “love our neighbour as ourselves”. We knew that the golden rule worked.
Ultimately what makes the majority of people happy and grateful to be where they are, now, in this moment, is making the world around them a better place. That is accomplished by being the change in your own world. This is truth no matter where you go. It is a fact. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself! When you’ve done something positive and improved the world around you, how do you feel? You feel good. That is a question that I think we as a society need to be asking ourselves, what makes us feel good or feel a good emotion? When we ask ourselves that question we step back from emotions being the end result and re-engage ourselves in the process of making our lives and the world around us a better place. THAT makes us feel good! And it is within our control.
In the 1980’s and 90’s when “feel your emotions” and “working through emotions” became prevalent I think something changed in the psyche of western thought. We entered a time of what I call, Emotional Babylon. We went from what we knew in the 1700’s, 1800’s, and early 1900’s to believing that we are what our emotions tell us we are and that we are stuck where our emotions tell us we are stuck. Emotions became things that happened to us and were not within our control. Our emotions, instead of giving us direction, started to give us the definition of our life. Feelings became the rule, the result. But feelings are not facts. They are real but not factual. What do I mean by that? Emotions and feelings are real. We know that because as individuals we are feeling them and experiencing them. However a fact is the same from every point of view. It means that from every standpoint the estimations of it don’t change. And this is not true of feelings.
It occurs to me that spirituality and living a spiritual life lends itself very well to experiencing good feelings. Do we need to know why and how this disintegration of living a spiritual life happened in order to fix it? Of course not. The question is how to disengage ourselves from the need to repetitively tell ourselves over and over again how badly we feel and to re-engage our power over ourselves. We need to leave the Emotional Babylon and regroup. Some psychologists and counselors are not going to care overmuch for what I’m saying. Of course it may put them out of a job or decrease their workload substantially. To that I say that we have done such a good job at creating this problem that they will have work for generations to come.
Living a spiritual life means leading your heart, your emotions, your thoughts and your actions on a path that is guided by positive feelings and good emotions. We have a responsibility to ourselves, our loved ones and to the power that put us here to do that. It means being conscious of what your emotions tell you. It means using them as a means to the end, not making them the end point itself. It means taking responsibility for our own emotions. Saying we don’t have control of something we do is an easy way of being lazy and putting the blame on someone or something else. It means taking responsibility for your own happiness, your own joy, your own part in making the world around you, starting with you, a better place.
Listen to what your emotions and feelings are telling you about your life. Listen to the megaphone going off in your head. Let those emotional bumps on the road remind you that you’re going off course. Start driving by braille and leave Emotional Babylon behind. Use your senses to interpret what your emotions are telling you about the direction your life is going and then keep going forward. Keep moving on a path that brings true happiness in the core of your being. A path that harms none, that does unto others as would be done, a path knowing that what we do to the web of life we do to ourselves, a path that brings about positive change beginning with yourself. Let it begin with you.
©Adrienne McLeod 2011