Rule 6: Confused People Follow Their Emotions
Following an emotions complicates the issue.
The Phoenix Perspective:
Emotions lead nowhere and more often than not simply add to any problem.
What would happen if you simply thought of your emotions as a source of information – similar to the thermostat on the wall? Our emotions, while real, are seldom reliable nor the only indicators of what is happening.
The emotion that arises at any given point is a conditioned response. Our senses provide data which our mind examines and compares to past experience. From this almost instantaneous evaluative process comes an emotional reaction linked to the past experiences. This reaction may or may not be appropriate to the present situation.
Our actual experience is that our emotions are often misguided. For example: we get angry with someone, based upon sensory data (what they did, said, looked like) and unconfirmed guesses about what the data means. Later, we discover that they had just experienced a crisis that had nothing to do with us. Our emotional reaction, which seemed so valid and justified, is now, with the new information at hand, inappropriate.
We chose to become angry because of our past experience. We took unrelated signs (a stern look, a tone of voice) and made judgments about the other person, internally, and in an instant pushed our “ANGER” button. This was our choice (no excuses . . . no “yes, but” – remember last week’s discussion.) Instead, we could have said, “Hmm. I’m feeling angry. What’s happening here to cause me to choose that response?” And then (imagine!) we could ask the person we’re in dialogue with what’s happening for them. Viola. One less mess to clean up.
So, what about “positive” emotions? Well, even love is misunderstood. Typically, the first stage of love, (romantic love) is hormonally driven. We sort of fall head over heels into this warm, gushy place. That’s why we say we’ve “fallen in love.” You feel good, but it’s a sexual, biological feeling. Now, if we simply follow the feeling, we are, like as not, going to wake up one day and discover that we hate the person we are supposed to love. The hormonal drive is the drive to mate and procreate. It is never about compatibility.
So, a better approach, when feeling the first flush of love, is to also engage the brain and the soul, and explore who the person is. What does this person know about whom they are? Who am I, as I attempt to be in relationship? What are my expectations? As I move around the hormones, is this a person who is on the same life path as me? Can I focus in on their life path and agree to support their walk – and even more importantly, will they support mine?
Or, do I think, “Well, he’s not perfect, but I can change him?”
Universal guideline: Never attempt to change anyone. People are who they are. People can choose to change some behaviours to make for smoother sailing, but we are who we are at the core of our beings, and that can’t be changed. Besides, why spend your life, time and energy, trying to get someone to change? Why not just hang out with people who are on the path you are walking?
Here’s another guideline: Never become intimate with any person who does not have a mentor you would go to for advice. Never, never, never, become intimate with someone with no mentor. No matter what excuse they give.
Sure, a whole lot of people won’t fit these criteria, but that’s OK. When you meet people with whom you really connect, the passion of that connection beats hormones every time.
We can say the same about relationships with people you work with. Be selective. Use the mentoring criteria. Make the deep connections with those on similar paths. The connection will feel right.
Your sixth exercise: How often do your emotions get you into trouble?
Make a list of your emotional roadblocks.