I’ve come to learn, and accept, that I have a lot of feelings throughout my day. Knowing where emotions come from is extremely useful in mastering emotions. Over the past two years, I’ve discovered that I’m strongly affected by not only my own emotions, but others’ as well. The ability to apprehend or absorb the mental and emotional state of another is known as being an empath.
In science, there is a neurological phenomenon described as synesthesia, where your brain activates multiple senses at the same time. For example, having the ability to feel or hear a color. The best way I can describe this is through the book The Phantom Tollbooth. The main character sees sunrises as symphonies of color – a magical effect where the colors perform music. Pretty sweet, right?
This phenomenon is also attributed to the emotional side of the brain, where a deeper empathy can exist. Think of it this way, have you ever witnessed someone get hurt and feel their pain? Or even seeing someone sick can make you sick as well.
Emotions are big drivers of change.
In fact, the only reason people do anything at all is to change the way they feel. Humans are constantly, and consistently, doing one of two things: avoiding pain or seeking pleasure. In Buddhist thought, this concept is distilled into desire and avoidance. By seeking new desires or avoiding new pains, we ignore the true reality of our lives and, instead, create more suffering through our behaviors. This is also the impetus for meditation.
My foray back into the developed world has shown me that the more convenient things are, the less happy people are. I’m not suggesting that we go back into the “dark ages” of the pre-iPhone and Internet era. I’m simply making an observation that many of us can learn to control our emotions and behaviors. By mastering emotions, we can put them to good use and make life easier, more fulfilling, and happier.
Alright, master my emotions – piece of cake!
This is not something you can will into action. It takes concerted effort and a deeper knowledge of where your emotions come from and why. Emotions are triggers to tell you something. It’s up to each individual to listen to it.
Emotions come from your perception of reality. I say this because, for better or worse, we are all living in our own “tunnel vision” reality. How we view the world is heavily dependent on the empirical evidence that we receive every single day via our own perception. This is 100% unique to every person on the planet – all seven billion of them, and counting.
Back in 2011, I had a co-worker who would constantly interject, “This is my world, and you’re just living in it.” The team would laugh off this absurd concept, but really there’s a whole lot of truth to this statement – for everyone.
This is, in fact, your world, and I’m just living in it.
It may seem like a wholly selfish concept, but in actuality, this is how everyone sees the world. Of course we can add emotion, compassion, love, hate, and a plethora of other feelings and notions into this concept. But at the end of the day, this is how we bobble around the planet.
Knowing that there is a whole universe of ideas and thought that circumvent our own perception can help us widen our view and our ability to feel.
If we are constantly acting on our emotions to change the way we feel, then it behooves us to start learning where emotions come from and how we can better understand ourselves. We can, therefore, have more control over our perception of reality, while mastering emotions and the outcomes thereafter.
Since emotions come from inside us and our own perception, they come out in unique ways. The primary way is through your body or physiology. You can start to practice connecting your emotions to a physical reaction by simply observing your reactions to your emotions. Perhaps you feel a sensation in the body any time a specific emotion arises. Observe, observe, observe. This will allow you to start realizing your emotional-physical patterns. They are deeply connected.
For example, I noticed that when I’m really sad or crying, I move chin down and curl into myself. This very subtle action is a trigger to the rest of my body. It says, “Be sad, you did something wrong. It’s your fault.” This feeling, as you might imagine, is horrible.
However, learning that when I feel sad, my chin moves down was an important realization. Now, when I notice this, I have a choice. I can follow it down and mentally beat myself up, or I can break the pattern. “Chin up” is an expression for a reason. I’m very likely not the only one who moves their chin down when times are tough. This realization has empowered me into understanding and soon mastering emotions (at least one of them).
This act of starting small, by noticing the subtle triggers how emotions affect the body helps to maintain a sense of honesty and control over how you move and feel through this world. Bit by bit, you’ll begin mastering emotions and feeling more in control over your daily life.