89 QUESTION: If someone doing this work finds wild emotions going back to childhood, how is it possible to handle them and substitute for them and let them disintegrate without the person who helps in this work right there? At the time, let us say twice a month, when we have the opportunity to express them with a Helper present, we may not feel such emotions, while we strongly feel them at other times. If one is on one’s own, what is the right way to handle these emotions at the moment they come up?
ANSWER: In the first place, it is significant if emotions only come out when one is not actively doing this work with the so-called Helper. This in itself points to a strong resistance. It is the long, drawn-out result of consistent repression.
Due to such repression, the emotions that come out first will appear at inopportune moments and will be so strong as to confuse the person. But after a comparatively short time, with the inner will truly determined to face the self in its entirety, destructive emotions will not only appear at the proper time and in the proper place, but you will be able to handle them with a meaningful result.
The state of resistance points to the fact that inward struggle and hate still exist along with the child’s desire that manifest conflicts should be resolved while the basic defense-mechanism is left untouched. If destructive emotions govern you, instead of your being able to govern them without repression, it is a form of temper tantrum in which the psyche says, “You see, you have forced me to do this, and now see where this leads to.” If such subtle hidden emotions can be detected, it will alleviate any danger of negative emotions taking on a power that the personality cannot handle.
In the second place, it is important that you do not feel guilty about the existence of such emotions which are probably incompatible with the image you have of yourself. If you learn to accept the reality of yourself instead of your mistaken self-image, the strength of negative emotions will abate. Yes, you will, of course, experience negative emotions, but you will never fear that they can lead you into losing self-control.
Let me put it this way: the strong impact of negative emotions, to the point where you fear that you are unable to handle them, is due not so much to their existence per se but due to the lack of acceptance on your part of the fact that you are not your idealized self. The negative emotions in themselves would be much less disturbing if you did not cling to the idealized self while struggling to give it up.
Once you have accepted yourself as you now happen to be, and have made the inner decision to part with the illusion of yourself, you will feel much more at ease. You will become capable of experiencing negative emotions in a way that promotes growth. You will derive insight from them, even if you are alone at the moment. Moreover, emotions will come up during working sessions and will yield even greater insight if they are expressed and worked with.
So I cannot give you rules to observe. I can only point to the reason behind this manifestation. If you truly absorb it, wish to understand it, and go on from there, this will help you a great deal. Of course, this is addressed to all of my friends.
QUESTION: That means that the emotions as such are not dangerous, but it is our disappointment in ourselves that makes them so powerful or dangerous?
ANSWER: Yes, that is right. But they need not be dangerous if you do not want them to be. If inner anger is not properly understood and released in a constructive way, such as you learn on this Path, a so-called temper tantrum takes place and the child in you lashes out, destroying others and the self.
Find the child who wants to strike out and you will be in control of evolving negative emotions without repressing them, but expressing them constructively and learning from them. Find the area in which you resent not being taken care of, not being given all you want.
Once you are aware of the reason for all this anger, you will be able to humor yourself because you will see the preposterous demands of the child in you. This is the work you have to do in this particular phase. It is a crucial and decisive milestone on your road. When you get over this particular hump, the work will proceed much more easily.
Whenever you are afraid of losing control, I advise to think of the image you have of yourself, of what you think you should be as opposed to the emotions that actually come to the fore. The moment you see this discrepancy, you will no longer feel threatened by the negative emotions. You will be able to handle them. This is the best advice for you in this respect.
Find in yourself where you are angry at the world for not allowing you to be your idealized self-image, where you feel it prevents you from being what you could be without its interference. Once you are aware of such emotional reactions, you will again come a great step forward.
You see, my friends, your misunderstanding is that you think the harm comes from the existence of the negative emotions as such. It does not. It comes from your non-acceptance of your real self, from the blame you throw into the world for not allowing you to be what you feel you could be if the world would let you. This is the nature of such strong, powerful emotions, and they can endanger you only as long as you are unaware of their nature. Therefore, seek their meaning. Seek their true message and you will never have to fear.
101 QUESTION: You were talking about situations in which our emotions flare up. How about human beings whose emotions are dulled and curbed, and who have no reactions?
ANSWER: When a human being gets into that state, it is a result of being over-defensive. Outwardly and consciously, emotions may be dulled to a considerable degree, but inwardly they still exist. They smolder underground and do their damage. That is why it is so important in this work to bring the emotions to the surface. Only then can they be dealt with properly.
As long as you do not feel your hate, for example, you cannot rid yourself of it. It has to come out of repression and reach surface awareness in order for you to understand its origin and then to free yourself from it. It is the same with the defensive wall. As long as you are unaware of it you can do nothing.
Therefore, the first consideration is to use the methods of this work to bring into awareness what was hitherto submerged. However, there is no person entirely devoid of emotions. They are on the surface but never named, and their significance is never questioned. These few surface emotions will furnish sufficient material with which to work first.
Even people whose approach is predominantly intellectual and who deliberately dull their feelings, still have certain feelings. The more defensive human beings are, the more limited the scope of emotions they can feel. But they can make an effort to pinpoint them. In such cases the predominant emotions will be fright and anger. The people may be unaware that these are emotions because they are so used to explaining them away.
QUESTIONER: Yes, but the person whose emotions are above board has an easier time to observe them.
ANSWER: Yes, certainly. This is why it is of primary importance to become aware of all the emotions you were not conscious of. Only then can we go into the kind of problems we are dealing with now.
111 QUESTION: I should like to hear your differentiation between feelings and emotions.
ANSWER: There is a difference between the two. One way of describing the difference would be that a feeling is deeper-rooted and more permanent. By this I do not wish to imply that feelings do not change. I do not mean that feelings are permanent in time, but they are so in quality, in consistency, in character, in being. A feeling may truly change faster than an emotion, and yet it is permanent in essence.
This is very difficult to explain; in order to understand, you would have to perceive what I mean with your own inner faculties. An emotion is more superficial, even though it may be retained longer in the soul substance. An emotion comes from superficial conditions in the soul. Reactions and responses that are based on superimposed modes of coping with life not originating from the real person, are emotions. The real self sends forth feelings.
Hence, a feeling is something much more substantial. This cannot be evaluated by the apparent worth of the feeling or emotion. You may have an unpleasant feeling, yet it is based on truth, on reality. An emotion is based on a subjective inner condition.
Here is an example. Let us suppose you sense a detrimental, negative quality in someone else or in yourself. If this quality is true, you are dealing with a feeling, even if highly unpleasant. In another case you may have the same perception, however you do not sense the negative quality because, instead of merely observing what is, you become frightened, suspicious, guilty and resentful because some image or pseudosolution is at work. You have, again, a correct perception, in this instance though of an emotion. When you do not push the feeling aside, you will come to see that you have a valid intuition, be it about yourself or about someone else.
When you do not push the emotion aside – and you should never push aside an emotion, a feeling, or anything else for that matter – you will come to recognize factors within yourself that cause you to be subjective, distorted, and out of touch. In short, you will see all the blocks in you that prohibit feelings and intuition. A feeling always reacts to reality – however temporary this particular reality may be – as it exists now.
Let us now examine a favorable emotion. Gratified vanity, greed or pride may produce a pleasant emotion. Or, to go a step further, a situation – even if truly perceived but utilized subjectively –produces an emotion and not a feeling.
Feelings are based on objectivity, emotions on subjectivity. In both instances, they may be pleasant or unpleasant. The language is often confused. One speaks of emotional maturity or emotional involvement, of expressing one’s emotions when feelings too are meant. But the words do not matter that much as long as you understand the essence.
QUESTION: Am I correct in understanding that anything can be either feeling or emotion? Fear, for instance?
ANSWER: Yes. That is right. But, my friends, my advice is: do not try to label it. Labeling is always a dangerous procedure. With it you somehow close a door to further understanding. Try rather to deal with the feeling, or emotion, as it comes up. Try to understand it, to see whether or not it is based on objective factors, or on personal, colored and subjective notions.
QA115 QUESTION: I feel sad, but without feeling sorry or pity for myself, and it’s a good feeling. Could you tell me something about it?
ANSWER: Well, could you be more specific?
QUESTION: Just I feel sad sometimes, very sad, but not sorry for myself, no pity for myself.
ANSWER: If that is the case, of course, this is a very good thing, which shows your growth. The sadness is then due to a realistic perception: how in your erroneous concepts you have unnecessarily burdened yourself or destroyed chances.
Since there’s no self-pity involved, then you even accept that – you even accept the inevitability of your present stage of development – that you had to go through this. It may make you sad, but it does not give you self-pity. It is even possible that these thoughts may not be as clear-cut in your mind, but they are certainly an expression of this state. This is what it means.
QA126 QUESTION: What does one do during that period when, to act out of one’s own feelings – or from within – means almost entirely to act out of anger and hatred and confusion?
ANSWER: Try to get the full understanding of the truth, which is that there is another alternative between, on the one hand, repression, and on the other hand, acting out destructive feelings.
There’s a very distinct difference between holding yourself back, which would again lead to repression and frustration and mounting tension, and saying, “I know there is another alternative, and I request understanding of this alternative – how can I not repress destructive feelings and yet not act them out?” If you meditate asking for this answer, the answer will come.
Then you will see gradually, the feelings will be dissolved and you will come to the next level of what is behind these negative feelings. But first of all is the realization that a further alternative must exist, although you do not know yet what it is. Knowing that it exists – and must exist – and that you do not know it, is a truth. By asserting this truth, you come into a greater peace. And you prepare the way for the realization of this.
QA190 QUESTION: Can you comment on what is perhaps the main block toward connecting with my feelings?
ANSWER: I see here two things. One is an inner voice that says, “I should not suffer. I should not have any unpleasant, uncomfortable or painful feelings. It should not be this way.” And if you can connect with that voice, then you can question this premise, and perhaps open the gates a little more toward connecting with your feelings.
The other thing I see here is another misconception that says, “If I have bad feelings, if I feel pain and discomfort, or fear or anything unpleasant, I must perish. Where is it going to go?” In connection with this, you may find that anger and hate do not correspond to what you think you should be. What you are and what you think you should be may be another aspect of a block here.
If you examine these three premises and find an echo within yourself, and see that this is indeed so, then you can confront these issues and these questions, and your inner world can then prepare a little more to open the door toward your feelings.