You know what they say, in some therapy, in some movies, or some TV shows, where the patient is advised to just let out their anger? Or in some cases, yourself or a friend who actually sees a “shrink” and you are told to acknowledge your anger (or whatever emotions you are dealing with! … rarely is it happiness!). Some of these scenes (not sure in real life) would further include the patient shouting out “I’m angry! I’m flabbergasted! I’m so f**king pissed!” … and in some cases even throwing things, and the good doctor would then say “Good good! Acknowledge your emotions. … ” etc etc …
I’m just wondering if anyone who tried this realise that the mere acknowledging or more rightly, the identifying with emotions in such manner, serves also to strengthen them. The mere “I am angry”, reinforces that well, I am angry. But where’s the I, as they would say? There’s probably a letting go part that some of these movies or real life accounts are missing, or maybe I didn’t watch the right ones or the persons I hear it from didn’t go to the right shrink. But is it just me or isn’t it harder to let it go later on after we have identified with it saying “I am angry” like a gazillion times??
Another approach is to observe the rising of anger when it arises and acknowledge it rather than acknowledge that “I” am angry. To acknowledge the rising of the emotion of anger and not to identify with it. The tricky part is that we’ve been so conditioned to identify with our emotions, to feel this way and that way, it is difficult for most to just observe emotions arising without identifying with it. The thing not to do is to wait for anger or any other emotions to arise before we observe, but to start learning to observe emotions as they arise as often as we can. We can start to observe even (and especially) the mild and mundane emotions as they arise, ‘cos they are plenty and are not about to spur us into doing something we would regret.
As we learn to observe emotions arise, over time, we should also see that without our identifying, they fall away naturally and rather quickly may I add. Note that this is *not* suppression of emotions, but observation of it. It’s like observing the clouds (or the bus, but clouds are more interesting and fanciful! :p ) they come about, they go their way. But the moment we identify with it and cling on to it, we talk about it non stop and it gets stuck in our mind! Boy, do we get cloudy after awhile! (pun totally intended!)
So should we be unfeeling mechanical contraptions walking around? Heck no! Go ahead and
feel good if you must! But why do you want to continue to feel down or angry or upset? Go ahead and feel happy (yes, go ahead and feel happy that you has* corrected all the grammars on the web, you Grammar Nazis!**) if you must. Feel joyful, feel grateful, feel compassion for those around us and those who perished in the recent Cyclone in Myanmar and those in the China earthquake. Feel if you must. But learn to manage it and don’t be led by it. At least for a start.
When it comes picking our clothing, food or partner, we choose what is good and (conceptually) the best. Why shouldn’t we do so for emotions?
The Legal Sorefoot
* Purposefully changed to has, just to be a bit IN with the bad grammar common on the web these days! :p
** In case any of you start suing me for being an insensitive monk, this is a tongue-in-cheek expression and is not meant to cause any stress or invoke any relation with the holocaust etc etc. 😀