I frequently write about how we alone can control our thoughts, our feelings and our actions. Yes, they can be influenced by outside people and things, but they are still under our own direct control.
Feelings in particular can be heavily influenced from without. Feelings are frequently reactions to stimuli, so much of the time it is the things outside of us that cause us to experience emotions.
If someone compliments you, kisses you, smiles at you, invites you to a party, tells you some great news about their life, you are going to feel good. When someone insults you, shoves you, yells at you, breaks up with you, or tells you terrible news about their life, you are going to feel bad.
The key here is what you hold on to. When you are feeling good you generally seek more things to continue that feeling. Of course, when you are feeling bad you might also subconsciously seek more things to continue THAT feeling.
We often do not recognize when we have allowed our feelings to be unduly influenced. We feel what we are feeling, and do not realize that we can change this when we are feeling something we do not want to feel.
It is important to recognize, first and foremost, that NOBODY can feel good all the time. We are all human, and we are a paradox of emotions, and as such to really feel positives we also must be able to really feel negatives. There are reasons why we need to feel anger, remorse, displeasure, concern, and even certain kinds of fear. They protect us, they help us grow, they allow us to recognize mistakes and issues and to change course when necessary to correct them.
The problem arises when we decide to allow negative emotions to dominate our being, and when we blame other matters for these emotions. Yes, something or someone may very well have been what triggered the emotion, but after a while you take on all responsibility for holding onto it, in especial if it does not suit you.
The ultimate examples of this are grudges, feuds, and long-held false beliefs and negativity towards people and things. This is where the term “I hate” becomes so incredibly dangerous. Hatred is a powerful negative emotion, from which it is very hard to turn. When we hold onto something based on a happening of weeks, months, even years ago or more, we create this steadfast negative space that can easily dominate our lives.
Yes, experiencing negative emotions is important, and not to be dismissed, but how long we choose to hold onto them is another matter. Overall, negative emotions are more destructive than constructive (and I recognize this statement is not true for everyone, but for the majority of people it is). Downward spirals are born of one negative emotion leading to another leading to another and so on until you are depressed, anxious, scared, distressed, lost…or any combination of these.
This is why it is so very important to ask ourselves, “How am I feeling?” It’s incredibly easy to passively just go along with your day, doing the things you do, and never checking in with your feelings. Meanwhile, lurking below the surface you could be feeling melancholy, concerned, anxious, frustrated, angry, hurt…take your pick.
This becomes especially important in a society with such instantaneous news and information. It’s almost impossible to scroll through Twitter or Facebook or G+ without coming across an upsetting news story, real or fake, or people talking about the bad day they are having, or financial woes, or all kinds of other matters that are negatively slanted. Some people only ever tweet about the miseries of their lives, some people seek constant victim reassurance and sympathy, and let’s not even get started on matters of national, international and global concern. The more of these you encounter, the more likely, if you do not check in with yourself by asking “How am I feeling?” they will negatively influence your emotional state.
Further, we all tend to be really busy. Most of us have responsibilities that eat up much of our time, and so emotions get shunted to passivity. We get caught up in the activities we are working on, and we completely lose sight of our emotional state, and let it be a passenger in the jump seat way at the back of the vehicle.
There are times where our emotional state is a hindrance to things. Certainly there are times where we are so focused on an activity that our passive emotional state becomes completely unimportant. But when we get done with whatever it is that has occupied us so thoroughly, it’s surprisingly easy for our emotions to find their way right on top of us again. How often do you find yourself suddenly feeling down and wonder where it came from? This is most likely it – a formerly passive emotion, wrought of something that happened a while back, is now at the forefront of your awareness.
Once we ask ourselves, “How am I feeling?” we have taken an active position. After we do that, we are further ready to take control, and alter our emotional state if it is not one conducive to us getting anywhere we may intend to go. Controlling how we feel is mostly a matter of active versus passive knowledge of our emotional state.
Seems easy enough. Of course, it’s not easy, and takes a bunch of work. I know what I need to do with this information, and I need to make certain I take more time to ask myself, “How am I feeling?”
How do you WANT to feel? How ARE you feeling?
GOAL LOG – Week 48:
Diet: Getting better about tracking again.
Exercise: Two days at the gym last week and two days of fencing. Improving.
Writing: The three blogs got written, and I worked on my sci-fi novel on four different days.
Meditation: I meditated two days last week, for 6 and 7 minutes or so, respectively.
Gratitude: I wrote five things I was grateful for six days last week.
This is the two-hundred fifty-eighth entry in my series. These weekly posts are ideas and my personal experiences in walking along the path of life. I share this journey as part of my desire to make a difference in this world along the way.
Thank you for joining me. Feel free to re-blog and share.
The first year of Pathwalking, including some expanded ideas, is available here.
If you enjoy Pathwalking, you may also want to read my Five Easy Steps to Change the World for the Better.