Emotions and their associated thoughts can be misleading in two ways.
(a) We think they are about the current situation.
We assume they reflect or are justified by or even created by the current situation. The reality is that almost always, these emotions and accompanying thoughts are old. They come from early in life. They may even be passed on through the generations. The current situation trigger these old patterns in us.
Emotions and their thoughts are often not about what they on the surface seem to be about. A friend or partner leaves me, I feel a sense of abandonment and that I am unlovable, and that’s not really about the current triggering situation. It’s about early childhood experiences, perhaps all the way back to infancy, where I felt like this and it was not resolved. (The only way to resolve these is to be present with and feel the sensations, and examine the imaginations connected with it.)
(b) We think they tell us the truth.
We think the emotions and the associated stories tell us the truth about whatever they seem to be about. And yet, that’s usually not the reality. They are from identifications, beliefs, wounds, and even trauma. They come from reactivity. At most, they have a very limited validity, as do a number of other stories (including their reversals). And even more so, the reality is that we don’t know.
Using the example above, I have stories about being abandoned and unlovable. On the surface, they may seem and feel true. But they are really just imaginations (mental images and words) associated with sensations in the body. When we identify these and feel the physical sensations and look at the images and words, the original experience doesn’t seem so real anymore. We recognize it as created by the mind through sensations associated with imagination.
When I say emotions and their associated thoughts, I mean thoughts that seem to give meaning to, elaborate on, and explain emotions. And also thoughts that trigger and create emotions.
- emotions and thoughts can be misleading
- may think that (a) they mainly are about/justified by the current situation, and (b) tell the truth, that the stories attached to them are true and reflect reality
- emotions and thoughts don’t tell the truth in the way they seem
- reactivity, comes from pain, beliefs, stories
- and they may not even be about what they seem to be about
- triggering situation vs. origin (often in childhood/infancy)