Addiction to Emotionalism

Well you don’t have to pay anything if you don’t want to, but to find peace, that’s the price tag.

Looking back at the personal journey I have travelled since I was a teenager, I can see certain cross-roads that I was faced with. Like Nemo in the Matrix faced with the red and blue pills, or Alice in Wonderland thinking about whether to drink the liquid, there comes a time in life – if your’e lucky – when two options are presented in clear-cut form, so clear-cut that you can no longer pull the wool back over your eyes. You know that it’s D-Day.

And perhaps the most important D-Day is the day you realize that you’ve been living a wretched life addicted to your own emotionalism. Now, there is a difference (in the way I use these words) between emotionalism and emotions. The former is attachment to emotions and feelings, the latter is just the emotions playing out. It is the former that keeps you unhappy, and it is the latter which allows space for natural joy to arise if the emotions are just allowed to be.

Barry Long, an incisive spiritual teacher, said:

“Even in every day living you’re continually interpreting experience via your emotions instead of being the experience direct. “This is good, that’s bad,” your feelings swing subtly to and fro all day long obscuring the reality, the sensational knowledge or gnosis that it’s not bad at all; it’s simply life as it is.”

The reason why it’s so hard to get this is that we are far too habituated to seeking constant excitement, drama, and “good” feelings – whatever good may be to us, it’s pretty subjective. We falsely believe that such a life is a full life, but in fact a truly full life is a life rich in experience and humanity in the present moment – one that is emptied out of this emotional drama for then there is space for real, direct experience.

“To be full of things is to be empty of God. To be empty of things is to be full of God. “(Meister Eckhart)

The mind’s constant emotionalism is a barrier to our happiness because we have an unconscious addiction to wanting to feel feelings, whatever they are, it matters not. We equate – erroneously – the achievement of the feelings we want, to happiness. We do not see that a mind that is full, means a heart that is empty. We do not see that striving for anything gives you the experience of striving, not of the thing that you are striving for, because the striving impetus is in the way of experiencing the strived-for-thing for what it is in its natural form. That’s why we experience feelings of anti-climax or a lack of satisfaction when we actually achieve goals, because what we imagined we would feel was simply a fantasy or an expectation to whose tune life and everyday reality simply don’t dance to. That’s why money will never, ever bring happiness, because it intrinsically cannot provide that, only pleasure (apart from meeting our basic needs). For the mind, money may seem to be the panacea of all ills, but life is not the mind, it is much, much more than that.  Yet the mind just wants, and wants, and wants some more.

Even as a goal is achieved, it doesn’t matter if the result is ‘good” the need to achieve is still not satiated, because needs by their very nature cannot be satiated since they are needs (not satisfaction). They can only be given up as a method of operation, in order to make space for freedom of behaviour and choice.

But what we usually consider to be freedom is actually a roller-coaster of feelings, on a ride that we don’t want to end. If you feel happy feelings, then you consider you are happy, and if you feel unhappy feelings, then you consider yourself to be unhappy, depressed, or a number of other adjectives. Very early on in life, such analysis and self-judgment leads us to have an image of ourselves, thus you consider yourself, either consciously or unconsciously, to be ‘happy’, ‘unhappy’, ‘depressed’, ‘a failure’, ‘a success’ and so on.  And our identity becomes vested in such self-appointed labels.

This plays out in this way because instead of simply being those things, simply experiencing experiences that bring forth feelings of happiness, depression, success, failure etc, you form an image of yourself (‘I am happy’ etc), and then your actions and thoughts work to correspond to that image (since that’s natural universal laws). In this way, there forms a mis-match between what you think of as you, your life, and your relationships, and what is actually real. This way of living involves a lot of effort, thinking and stress, whilst we go chasing our tail to find happiness which we think lies within the field of emotion.

True happiness however, does not involve chasing any tails, or any roller-coaster rides. It is a permanent state of joy, that is here, now, always present, like a well of joy that is ever there, calmly waiting for you to drop down a bucket and scoop up the water. In order to get some water into the bucket you must first get rid of the false beliefs you have of yourself that are taking up all the space in the bucket. The image you have created of yourself is a defense mechanism for what you really believe to be who you are (unworthy) – which is also illusion, but it is believed to be real. This is what few are willing to do, and this is why I honour each and every one of my clients because I know how much courage it takes to do this work. And when you do this work? Well, the bucket lowers itself down of its own accord into your well of joy and peace.

Let’s look at why it’s hard to do this work. Unconsciously, most people are obsessed with their self-image. Just think about it. Who is it that you spend all day and everyday thinking about? It’s you! Have you ever realized this? Have you ever seen how much space inside your thinking is taken up by thoughts of yourself? You may not even be aware of this, but try to see this with some detachment. The truth is that the majority of your thoughts relate back to you, to this image. And such a self-obsessional past-time is one that we do because we in fact enjoy the whole drama of our internal chatter, even if this is angry, depressed, guilty, or anguished.

This is why many people know themselves their ‘issues’ quite well, but they don’t move beyond them. For example someone who has been on a personal journey for years, or has some level of self-knowledge, but who still struggles with the same issues from years back.  The truth is they enjoy the feeling of their feelings, or are invested in them in some way, even if they say they want to change. If they truly wanted to change they would be willing to give up the habitual emotional addictions, whatever these might be. This may sound harsh, but it’s true. They’d rather feel justified about their feelings, than change.  I had a client once who had believed they were ‘nothing’ all their lives, ever since a family loss as a young child, and the furtheset they had come along the healing journey was to now see that that they actually didn’t want to change – it was too much effort, too scary.  Better the devil you know syndrome. And that’s all fine – we all have choices, but at some point along one’s journey one will be called to do the healing work – this is what I have learnt.

Barry Long again:

You’ve been beating your head against the wall to get some feelings and all you’ve got to do is break the habit and get used to living anew without pain and conflict. But that’s a mighty realisation, and a mighty simple one which few are going to accept – they’ll be too busy defending their feelings! So, I guess I’ll still be demonstrating this the day I die.

If we can take a moment to step back from our attachment to our feelings, we would see how attachment takes us completely away from reality. We would see that feelings are not ‘˜good’ or bad’, they just are. It’s called being human. To judge those feelings as if we can change them into something else is to pretend we have an ability we do not have. Energy cannot be changed just because we say so. Energy can only be transmuted through its acceptance and non-resistance to it. In the end it is so very simple, but in our subtle arrogance, we believe we can play God, we believe we can mold reality just on a whim. Yet if we could just let our experiences play out within ourselves instead of introducing the tiresome habit of analysis and defense, we would be much happier, more at peace and more stable.

In my own experience, one day, I just got real weary of this game of emotionalism. It wasn’t easy for sure. But by then I had little choice, somehow the train had left the station and the driver was gone. So I journeyed into the Now, and found that happiness could be found there, and that the Now was me, and everyone. I was filled with such sorrow initially because I saw how life, and all its variety and diversity, was passing people by, me included, whilst we went around living inside our heads like paranoid chickens. But then I started laughing, and I laughed real hard, because even such sorrow had me addicted. I realized how I loved being sad. It’s why people love weepy films! And I saw that in the space of Truth, in our I AM, in the Beingness that we essentially are (ie what we are without the mind’s analysis), sorrow and laughter arise, and they are welcome to, because they are not personal, it’s just us being human, and everything passes, sorrow and laughter both.

When you get how addicted to your emotionalism you are, suffering will be unimportant, it’s just part of the human experience, as is indeed, the happiness that you think you have from happy feelings. And when you get this, you are back in your Essential Nature, before such conditioning and addictions to emotionalism arose.

To Your Emotional Health

[Written around 2012-2013]

PS. As I read the above written just after the initial spiritual awakening arrived, it’s funny how the personality changes along the path.  I’m amused by my own fervour then, as if looking at someone different.  Perhaps the fervour was also a kind of emotionalism.  I still have fervour now, but it’s different.  One difference is that I’ve gotten used to the space without the emotionalism – I didn’t mention this in the piece above, but the other side of the coin is how to live a life without such emotionalism, and what happens when your natural way becomes to move away from emotionalism and into the still inner space of the Real.  And then again emotionlism happens too still, usually due to relationship dynamics or conspiracy theories lol.  But all the while, as one’s awakening journey deepens, the ego’s desire for such drama gets further and further pinched out with each such event – like wringing a wet cloth in a mill – the intensity of the emotionalism just dries out the whole tendency for this, and the raising of vibrations becomes very focussed. A topic for another post! Much love x

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