Last update: February 09, 2015
On the path to self-improvement, sometimes we are faced with a false goal: we want to exercise total control over our emotions. We read that it is advisable to always be happy, and we try to feel good at all times. We feel that we need to keep our bad mood in check, and that suppressing anger or negative feelings is the best way to go.
However, this is a mistake. Emotions are felt for a specific period of time. Always be happy it is unnatural, like sleeping all day or sneezing all the time. There are people who try to nullify their negative feelings through junk food, drugs, television, tobacco, or by overworking. While it may work, it will only be a temporary solution: the negative emotions are still there, even if hidden.
There is another important detail that we must take into consideration: our genes always ask us to solve something. The survival instinct of our ancestors is so primal that even today we feel their own needs, feed on the need for control and even try to control our feelings.
What's the problem?
Try to move an object with the power of thought. Can you do it? Even if you concentrate fully, the will to move it will not be enough to do so. What is this example for? To make you understand that your thoughts affect reality only when you perform an action, not a feeling. As much as you love a person very much, the relationship will not go on unless you do something to prove it with facts.
Invisible beings cannot physically harm us
A useful way to understand this is to imagine emotions as invisible beings that continually surround us in life, but which cannot harm us. It is good to understand and be convinced of the fact that, even if the emotions are there, in reality they cannot destroy us. Repress emotions or not wanting to see them means not accepting ourselves as we are, denying a part of ourselves. It is much healthier to hear them, recognize them and observe them, making sure that they do not come to harm us physically. Once we understand this, we can make any emotion turn in our favor, not against us.
For example, sadness or anger are not necessarily negative, if they can help us improve our creativity or the conduct of our activities. Let those "invisible beings", emotions, inspire us in what we do. Fear, for example, can train our minds to predict future events and to take more precautions in an activity that we consider dangerous.
Great works of art were created thanks to a situation of emotional catharsis. Music, for example, requires a feeling to develop. Literary works also require the writer to feel emotional empathy to understand his characters. Artists know their emotions and exploit them in a positive way, giving life to their creations.
The secret of emotions
In summary, controlling emotions too much or repressing them is a serious mistake in the path of personal development. We must avoid suffocating them and understand that they are transient. You have to let them flow and live with them in a positive way.
We must allow ourselves to perceive our humanity, including emotions, as did the Greeks, who understood the complexity of man, with the facets of his emotions.
Knowing yourself is the key to this process. If we know how we will react to certain situations, we will be able to anticipate the feeling and live with it better. Some emotions such as happiness, cheerfulness and enthusiasm do not bother us because they leave us with a pleasant feeling, but even the unpleasant ones are part of life and it is not healthy to cover them up or deny them.
Satisfaction, for example, cannot be obtained that easily, because it requires constant effort and will surely force us to go through frustration, anger or sadness first. But when you reach your goal, the satisfaction will last a long time and we will thank you for having also experienced negative emotions to get it.
Image courtesy of Gabriele Negri