Emotions and Perspective
It’s a familiar experience in my world – everything seems to be going well and I’m feeling really content and happy with my life. Then I discover that all the time I had been so content and thinking everything was going great, there was this thing going on. If I had been aware of this thing, I would have been anxious and worried or sad and discouraged. All that contentment was false – it was just there because I was unaware of the reality of my situation.
It got me thinking about perspective and emotion and how I make sense of my life. A lot of what I do is predicated on my emotion. If I’m feeling positive and upbeat, I’m more likely to tackle housekeeping and projects around the house. When I’m feeling down or stressed out, you can find me stretched out on my bed with a good book. But what if those emotional cues to my behavior are false? What if I’m all happy when events in my life should be making me miserable? or visa versa? It’s not such a big deal when we’re talking about whether the vacuuming gets done. But it did make me wonder about bigger choices. It’s the Sense and Sensibility dilemma – do I act on my emotions, ignoring convention or let my behavior be dictated by a moral frame irregardless of how I’m feeling? In the end, both Marianne and her more sensible sister Eleanor are hurt by their choices, but only Marianne comes so close to dying – Jane Austen seems to come down in favor of being suspicious of emotion as the guiding force in action.
I’m all for feeling good – but sometimes I neglect things like heartfelt prayer because I feel like everything is going great and I don’t really need help right now. There are a number of things wrong with that statement, starting with the idea that prayer is only good for getting things. But also, often times, when I’m blindsided by the truth of my situation, I see that actually I did need help – I was just unaware of what was really going on. And feeling good generally means I’m feeling content with myself – there’s nothing I need to work on or change about myself. That’s a really bad place to be … because there are so many metaphorical weeds in my garden that need my consistent attention. Emotions can persuade me that those weeds are not there when really, if I neglect them, I’ll be overrun in short order.
I guess my point here is I’m inclined to trust my emotions but maybe I should be a little more skeptical? Just some random musings …