Home | Flourishing in Life | Psychology of Wellness | Emotions | Emotion Article Archive | Destructive Emotions
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | January 2014
Emotions underlie many actions, pushing for a behavioral response to an experience. Sometimes our pasts have tainted these emotions, giving strength to reactions that fail to serve our purpose.
Our emotions are in flux; waves moving through the soul, inspiring action, creating the content of felt experience. Joy, disgust, sadness, and anger are not weaknesses of a weak mind but naturally emerge from the vagaries of experience. With action backed by emotions built from biological givens, we mustn’t blame the givens to excuse rotten behavior. As humans, we are self-empowered; seated in the conscious mind is the power to direct. We can choose. Those choices, however, bless and curse our lives.
We can act against motivational pushes; we are more than a dried reed being pushed by the wind. Housed within the broken soul, tormented by destructive emotions, are morsels of goodness obscured by ugly action. The hidden wholesomeness requires careful nurturing to break through the crusty soil of the sensitive ego, to discover the missing joys. Somewhere during lengthy human development, many people deviate from healthy paths, drifting into self-perpetuating cycles of darkness, lost in deception. Their subsequent misrepresentation of reality confuses the emotions, sending mixed messages of right and wrong. Image protecting justifications swoop in to protect positive self-images while supporting the soul-destroying paths with cockeyed lies.
When poor choices create an unbearable existence, life threatens, provoking anxiety. The weight of reality overwhelms. The broken soul may know change is needed but when existence crushes them on several front, the necessary small changes needed appear stupid and unrewarding. Good deeds appear pointless as consequences (from past choices) keep haunting the present.
The most immediate escapes are deceptions, lying about true condition in their lives. The most available joys for them are future destroying pleasures. Change for those sucked in these downward spirals is difficult. Emotions programmed from the chaos are inadequate guides. The past is jumbled without clear connections between effective choice and future rewards. When emotions fail to properly guide, better choices emerge only by denying the natural impulses to act, becoming skilled in productively processing unpleasant disruptions. Acknowledging and accepting the initial feeling (it belongs to us, we felt it) and then skeptically examining the compulsion to act. These impulses may be off course. The pattern of feeling and action runs deep; the wheels have run the course thousands of times, carving ruts difficult to escape.
"Change for those sucked in these downward spirals is difficult. Emotions programmed from the chaos are inadequate guides."
Our expectations (beliefs) configure emotions, invoking waves of feeling through the body when experience deviates. If we believe we are entitled to a life of ease, with no sorrow, this expectation accentuates emotional responses to trouble. The faulty belief interferes with well-being. We suffer. The expectation magnifies the troubling event, confusing our interpretation. What we see as unfair, in reality, is very fair. We all live in an unpredictable complex world with constant disappointments and joys.
Recovering from addiction, returns the voyager back to face the struggles of reality. During the prolonged distraction of artificial escapes, the addictions fade the memory of the difficulties of sobriety. The varieties and magnitude of problems associated with survival are forgotten in exchange for the one overwhelming problem of maintaining or escaping the high. Momentary clarity mind returns the unprepared victim to the real world of problems where pressures mount and emotions combine to force a new escape—relapse.
Successful escape from addiction, whether illicit drugs, alcohol, or behavioral glitches, is to prepare for the difficulties of living, realigning expectations with reality instead of relying on esoteric beliefs of healing, and magical interventions.
While the mind significantly accentuates and minimizes emotions, we shouldn’t strive to feel nothing at all, disconnecting from attachments. The goal isn’t perfect harmony. The world sends messages that impact our souls and motivate passionate responses. This is the richness of living.
With mindfulness, we acknowledge the role of faulty expectations, accepting the normal discomforts of an unpredictable world. Mindfulness examines the emotions flowing through our bodies without wishful escape or damaging corrective action. A power comes to those able to experience from a dispassionate position, exploring the self without despair. The goal must change. We can’t expect to escape the pangs of life but must work for the resilience to absorb the impacts of reality, processing emotions and the disturbing events in a constructive life-giving manner. This is empowered; the foundation of well-being—a life of feeling, connecting and accepting.