Did you experience strong negative emotions in the past week? Negative emotions, if not processed properly, could be disturbing. Nonetheless, they may not be the culprit of issues we are facing, nor a main hurdle of our wellness ! Emotions are just signals and how to understand them is the key job to be done. These signals reveal the nature of our basic needs and guide us to see if such needs are being fulfilled. By exploring and reflecting courageously, we empower ourselves to make sense from our past experience. What are the insights brought by Mei Changsu of Nirvana in Fire (a Chinese drama series) and Neo of Matrix?
All of us could be living in a Matrix look-alike, going through the same trajectory as Neo, being betrayed, beaten up and manipulated N times. All of a sudden things could turn bright and become optimistic again. Neo deviates from the program set by the Mastermind. He has the capability to love, analyze and make choices. It is exactly these qualities that put him under a bigger burden than the rest of his race. "I don't like the idea that I'm not in control of my life", the lack of control and loss of autonomy is believed to be a common source of human frustrations.
Morpheus of Matrix said, "What is 'real'? How do you define 'real'? If you're talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, taste and see then 'real' is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain." To put it simply, emotions are messages! We feel "happy" because we have a positive experience with someone or something we enjoy; we feel "angry" as something we cherish is exposed to violation and we don't want it to be lost. When feeling angry, our pupils dilate, heart beats faster and fists are clenched to get prepared for a fight. Then, what is the thing that we hold dear for such a defense? How comes the situation hurts and brings us anger .... efforts not being appreciated, love not being reciprocated, or fairness and justice not being seen?
What are the different messages different emotions are trying to make? "Despair" and "disappointment" may reflect deep-rooted responsibility and commitment; "sorrow" and "guilt" are products of love and care, and there is always hope being embedded. Our emotions are inseparable from our cognition and value system. Every day, we traverse between acts of accomplishment, defense, possession and loss. In actuality, we are just choosing to practice the values and sense of self that we deeply believe should be chosen and practiced. Interestingly, this represents not only the greatest virtue of humanity, but also our biggest limitation!
I am watching Nirvana in Fire recently. Mei Changsu, cast by Hu Ge, once said, "As long as you have desires and emotions, you can never be free." When his friend was worried about the future, he comforted him, "Why bother when things haven't reached that point yet?" In a nutshell, how to perceive our "emotions" is the job to be done. These signals are revelations of our basic needs and whether such needs are being met.
When you experience negative emotions next time, take a deep breath and try not to control them. When emotions start to go and if you feel ready, decode the message that is delivered. Maybe it's the affirmation from our parents, gestures of love from our partner, recognition from a boss... let the insights empower you to interpret and communicate them more effectively!
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