Emotion vs. Emotional

In this blog I am calling emotion pure feeling, and emotional the reaction to the feeling. It is vitally important to allow yourself to feel the pure emotion that is presenting itself to you, but to avoid the emotional or reaction to the feeling.

Pure emotion is dynamic- it changes quickly. It is our attachment to emotions that makes them feel static and fixed. Young children are the best at expressing pure feeling. They feel sad or upset and express it fully. A few minutes later they are happy and laughing. They do not attach to feelings. They do not say things like, "I am really sad today." That is way too static for a kid. They will be happy and sad twenty more times before the day is over.

One way you can tell that you are moving from pure emotion into the emotional is to notice you have moved into having thoughts (often distorted) about the feeling. And then experiencing emotional or reactionary feelings based on the distorted thoughts. Challenging these distorted thoughts is the cornerstone of cognitive behavioral therapy and has been shown to be highly effective with depression, anxiety, and grief.

So the trick is to feel as long as you are experiencing the pure feeling. And then to break its energy when it begins to migrate into emotional and becomes counter-productive. At this point there is no more value to be had by dwelling on it and rehashing it. It just leads to depression, self-pity, anger and depression- all reactionary emotional states.

You can break the energy of these emotional states by getting out of the house, calling or visiting a friend, listening to music, or exercising. Of course, there may be some resistance to doing this. You may have to force yourself to break its energy. The I Ching describes this discipline as “marshaling your armies against yourself”

Or in our case, marshaling your armies against the emotional.

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