Our emotions are simply there inside of us, a vast ocean to be observed, enjoyed, endured, pondered, but denied only at our peril and never controlled. In a previous Musings, I spoke of humans as made up of emotions, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Feelings are the abstracted labels we assign to our emotions. Thoughts lend themselves to limited control. Behaviors are definitely within our control.
But we can no more control our emotions than we can control the sea.
I hear people denying their emotions based on logic. They make comments like, “I’m not angry because it wouldn’t make sense to be angry.” Our emotions have a life of their own. They are illogical by nature and largely a mystery. Why do we cry at movies or when we hear a piece of music or in response to a dopey commercial? Why do we feel alone in a room full of friends or family? Why do we feel a guilty glee when a loved one fails?
I think we are wise to observe our emotions like observing waves in the sea. Sometimes the water is calm and tranquil. Sometimes it is rough, causing us to hold on for dear life. But the sea always calms down eventually and so do our emotions. Why do we love to sit and stare at the ocean? The same reason it is wise to observe our emotions. In both cases, we are observing raw, untamed, sometimes terrifying, beauty–beauty with immeasurable potential.
Emotional intrusions into our everyday life, welcomed or not, give us a break from the rat race. Oscar Wilde said “The advantage of the emotions is that they lead us astray.” I have benefitted greatly from honoring my emotions, e.g., my dear marriage, my better moments as a parent, and my passion for dancing. And that leads to my final point. Emotions aim us toward passions, those wonderful, although potentially dangerous, loves that make life come alive, make it pop. While observing our emotional waves, we can decide which ones to just keep observing and which ones to surf.