|Grieving (possibly Isis mourning Osiris). A rare piece of Egyptian terra cotta in the Louvre Museum, Paris.|
Happiness, sadness, frustration, irritation, humility, pride, confidence, uncertainty, joy, depression, misery, defeat, hope, cynicism, anger, kindness, jealousy, fear, patience, impatience, boastfulness, grief, laziness, listlessness, delight, ecstasy, love, hatred, contentment, envy, greed, ambition, rapture, optimism, pessimism, self-possession, lack of control, melancholy, despair, fondness, passion, sorrow, bliss, embarrassment, contempt, vitality, self-awareness, elation, boredom, guilt . . .
Fifty feelings, emotions and states of mind. A list we could easily extend to one hundred, two hundred more.
I want to thank Amanda for this astute observation:
"It's certainly possible that we can examine the thought itself, but to address the core emotion, respect it for what it is telling us, and then choose wisely our response to the emotion is another path to consider. I don't believe there is such a thing as a negative emotion — emotions themselves are pure. Again, it is how our human mind is domesticated to respond to the emotion in often kneejerk behavior which gets us into trouble."
And I also want to thank Am for her remark that "sins" (or "vices" or "negative qualities") are "part of what it means to be a human being."
I've been thinking about both these comments. We are assailed by feelings and emotions much of the time: some strong, some diluted, some welcome, others not so welcome. They overwhelm us daily, if not hourly — at least they do me. As Am says, feelings and emotions are part of the human makeup.
I know I can seem perhaps unusually emotional for a man (if we accept the cliché that women are more emotional, or show their emotions more readily, than men — though who really knows what's going on behind that male machismo and that stiff upper lip?) I feel a need to express my own feelings, and try to be sensitive to the feelings of others. I cry quite easily while watching romantic films and hearing emotive pieces of music. And so on.
These feelings, and the core emotions from which they come, seem to well up naturally, and, as such, are pure, and to be honoured — as Amanda states. To categorise feelings and emotions simply as positive or negative, good or bad, is a crude and inaccurate shorthand, which does not reflect and respect the complexity of those feelings and emotions, their naturalness and their purity.
I think we are wise to tune in to our feelings, to listen attentively to them and discover what they are telling us. Again as Amanda says, we often seem programmed to act on our feelings with some thoughtless kneejerk reaction — which can be at best unhelpful and at worst destructive.
Speaking for myself, I don't want to be constantly buffeted this way and that by a helter-skelter of emotions, by a tangled, undifferentiated mass of feelings. I don't wish to hide or suppress them, as this can lead to difficult if not dangerous psychological problems. (Anyhow, I like and relish my feelings, on the whole. To feel is to be human, to be alive!) But neither do I wish to be completely ruled by my feelings, to be at their mercy, to be dominated by them so much that I feel powerless and out of control.
So how do we achieve a balance — if balance is what we are agreed upon — of thought and feeling, reason and emotion? How do we integrate emotion into our lives in such a way that we have some control over our feelings and are not totally controlled by them?
|Eros and Psyche's kiss.|