Monday, May 23, 2011

Feelings are nouns...

Ever heard someone say "I am so happy!", or "I am so disappointed". How many times have you yourself said "I'm angry", or "I'm depressed", or any other emotion ranging from happiness to sadness and every degree in between? These are common statements that most people don't think much about. But in all honesty, they are extremely inaccurate.

You see, we are not defined by the emotions that we experience, and we must remember that emotions are nouns...they are a "thing" though an intangible one. It would be far more accurate to say "I feel sad", or "I feel happy". Let's explore the difference between emotions as objects versus emotions as states of being.

I am a Caucasian female. I am fair skinned, and my gender is unchangeable. These two traits, among other permanent factors, contribute to my basic identity by defining who I am. In contrast, my emotions are not permanent and are not part of my identity. The trick is to remember that when those emotions seem to run rough-shod over me, or when I feel lost in the intensity of certain feelings, whether they are positive or negative. There is immense power in the spoken word, so care should be exercised when we choose how we describe ourselves. If I frequently say that I am sad, I should not be surprised when I truly do develop a melancholy demeanor because I am speaking sadness into my identity. Much better would be to say that I feel sad...acknowledging the truth of how I feel, yet still maintaining that emotion's separateness from my basic identity.

Imagine reaching with your hand straight into your core, grasping the emotion in question, holding it up in front of your eyes and studying it from all angles. Observing its details, moving it from hand to hand, one can then choose what to do with it: replace it inside of oneself, or set it down elsewhere and walk away from it. This is the beautiful thing about emotions, our ability as humans to focus our attention on emotions that help us while setting aside those that hinder us. Does this mean that we can easily turn our feelings on and off like changing the channel on a television? Of course not. A well-known saying reminds us that "the heart cannot help whom it loves". But while we may find it difficult to turn our attention away from a person our heart seems intent on adoring, we can choose the level of affection we embrace, as well as the course of action to which those emotions lead us.

So, today when we feel...sad? Happy? Content? Depressed? Or any other blend of human emotional sensation, let us recall that emotions are nouns...we can control them, they do not have the privilege of ruling us.

I welcome your thoughts!

*This morning chat was inspired by Megan...a dear friend whose wisdom far surpasses her young age, and whose heart blesses so many. You are never forgotten, Meg!

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