We treat our emotions like they are everything there is, the end. We want to be happy. We want to feel excited and joy. When things go well, we say, “I’m feeling great!”
Therefore, when we get to a point where we feel lousy, it seems as though something is wrong. The problem is how we feel. Why do I feel so miserable? What do I do to feel better? The emotions are the problem, they are the end, and they are the guides along the way.
As our imagined finish line, we put a lot of trust in our emotions. We think they are the truth. How we feel matters more than all else. And if we could just treat our emotions (or protect or validate) them, everything would be okay.
The True End
The truth is our emotions are actually the furthest thing from the end there is. They are just the beginning. They are alarm clocks, indicators that let us know the game is on.
We camp out at our emotions. We want to revel in the good ones and swiftly eradicate the bad ones. They feel definitive. How we feel is who we are.
The problem with this is that we miss so much opportunity. We miss the chance to see truth in our lives and steward influence. We miss the beauty of struggle and the preparation of triumph. We lose sight of reality; thinking this moment of time is all time.
The true end of the rainbow is our choices. Emotions are invitations to choose. They begin the process, making us aware that a choice is forthcoming. They tell us values are at stake and decisions need to be made.
Our actions are the by-product of our decisions. We do things because we choose to do them. Our world has all but abandoned this perspective. Instead, we do things because we feel like it. We bypass the connections between feeling and choice, mistaking the latter for the former.
If we want to make the most of our emotions, we have to stop letting them control us. Equally important, we have to start ignoring them. When our emotions let us know something needs to be chosen, the next step of the process is to think about that choice. Consider what triggered an emotion in the first place. What are the options before us? And what is the best course of action?
The thinking stage eludes us because we trust our feelings to do our thinking for us. But, our feelings are not trustworthy. They aren’t designed to be. They are designed to wake us up. But we so love unawareness. We are so addicted to being asleep. Our eyes are groggy and complaining. Like those characters in The Matrix, we are so used to being asleep, we don’t even know what awake feels like. This is what emotions are trying to break us of. They are trying to jolt us out of the quicksand of apathy.
If they can do that (and they are pretty good at it), their job is done. It is time to thank them for their valiant service. To appreciate their part to play in exposing truth. And then take the next step forward.