Home | Flourishing in Life | Psychology of Wellness | Emotions | Emotion Article Archive | Poisoning Emotions
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | March 2018
Emotions are primary motivators for action. Sometimes misguided action needs to be inspected for appropriateness.
I feel good; so, I do it. I feel afraid; so, I refrain. The swirl of emotions direct behaviors, sending us chasing opportunities, and protecting against threats. But sometimes, strong emotions occasionally slip from healthy purpose and poison our lives. We shouldn’t embrace everything that feels right; Our systems can be overwhelmed with crazed fixations or the bitterness of hate. Some actions deserve abhorrence—such as child abuse; but too much hate strangles our hearts, destroys peace and retards growth. Hate is often a reaction to fear, grappling with the pain of a bruise ego. We fail to move forward, desiring revenge to achieve justice.
Our feelings programed experience, once set than project meaning on new mundane events, attributing purpose where no purpose exists. A person we dislike (or hate) acts poorly, in line with normal human frailties, and we interpret these actions to evilness, performed with rancor and a desire to hurt. Our interpretations fulfill our tainted judgments. The feeling poisons perceptions. When we fear, we respond defensively—some pull back, some attack, and some quietly freeze. Our past and biology influences response and our responses continue to configure our futures.
Defensive or retaliating reactions deserve inspection, examining the powerful emotions driving action. Are we preserving our lives and characters or are we perpetuating an unhealthy cycle, supporting wrongful emotions with distorted judgements? Strong emotions are essential. Some circumstances deserve strong responsive reactions. We waste precious time with hurtful others; but don’t need to. Our emotions can guide us to safer environments.
We may never fully know the motivation behind a disturbing behavior. If a person repeatedly hurts us, emotions drive us to create secure mental space to protect from the emotional bashing. When circumstances change, but the emotions don't, the protective impulses need to be examined for appropriateness, whether the emotions create safety or limitations. Seeking outside help is often necessary to invite objective insights. We are too involved, blinded by biases, to see past the ego protecting fluff. We employ hurtful mechanisms—automatically and unconsciously. Awareness exposes emotions from past underlying hurt that need compassion, understanding and reprograming.
"We may never fully know the motivation behind a disturbing behavior."
Hating those who hurt us may be protective but often continues once the threat has ceased, wasting energy and poisoning our soul; we can protect ourselves from harm by maintaining distance without the burden of hate. Acknowledge the poison when you feel it. Mindfully work to widen views, making room for unknowable histories, and work towards compassion. We want compassionate for our foibles; and we should give compassion towards others. By freeing ourselves from the downward spiraling powers of hate, we create a deeper perspective and love for the world.