Emotions interest me. Our brain and nervous system can’t talk to us with words, at least not at first, and besides words can be misleading and ridiculously ineffective– and slow!– as far as communication is concerned. Emotions, on the other hand, travel at the speed of nerve signal conduction. Amazing things, emotions!
But then we start talking to ourselves about them. (Yeah, here I go, talking to myself. Again.) We decide we like this one, but not that one. This one is okay, this one, meh, that one, omigoddonteverevengothere. We layer on meanings, stories about ourselves, around these emotions. Before we even realize what we’ve done, we’ve spun this crazy kaleidoscope of a cocoon around signal molecules that originated in our bodies with a purpose. Now we find we can’t access all of our information, and then we whine about that!
But we are the ones who deprived ourselves of our knowing in the first place! We are the ones who decided, “Anger is bad, put that away.” We are the ones who put these elaborate mechanisms in place to avoid certain feelings at all costs (fear, anyone?). We just didn’t understand what that cost would turn out to be, in the end.
Emotions are signposts. I don’t know about you, but I don’t go driving and pass judgment on the green and white sign telling me this way is Knoxville and that way is Atlanta. Bad sign! No biscuit! Emotions are the same. When I am angry, it is a sign indicating direction. If I suppress, ignore, or otherwise mutilate my anger because I have an aversion to it, I effectively damage or even destroy my map to my life. If, instead, I sit with my map undamaged and study it, I’ll figure out what my anger is telling me and know at least something about what to do next. I can properly alleviate the anger, address the underlying need it is trying to talk to me about, but only if I don’t destroy it in my desperation to avoid it.
I am angry today. I am not yet to the bottom of it. My goal for today is to allow my anger to exist, and to listen for its message. I have no idea how long this will take, or whether I can sit with it through all my inner efforts to wriggle away… like a small child who is bored in church, trying to not get in trouble, sitting upright in the pew, all the while wanting to get down on the floor or go outside, anything to escape the dreadfully boring grown-up droning on and on. But I will sit and listen, for as long as I can.
What are your feelings signaling today?