In daily life, our moods constantly change. We feel various reactions to the incidents that occur around us. Everything we see, hear and experience can create a myriad of feelings within us, and our behavior emerges as reactions influenced by these feelings. Although we can project these reactions to the outside world in many ways, we sometimes keep them inside as well. Anyway, everything we perceive, whatever it might be, triggers some kind of a reaction in us. These reactions may be at a conscious level, but sometimes they remain at the unconscious level. In other words, when things happen around us, we might be unaware of them, yet we can suddenly feel good or bad.
When studied on the physical level, we could say our emotions are various manifestations that result from numerous chemical and physical changes in our bodies, which are felt by our senses. For example, when you experience a troubling or sad incident, or when you remember such an incident, as the image pops into your mind, many mechanisms are mobilized in your body. As a result, troubling emotions arise, generally in the abdomen or chest area but sometimes in other parts of the body. The moment we feel them, some contraction or stretching actually physically occurs in our organs. In other words, the emotion we feel is actually a change in our body that occurs in an energetic sense. However, this only happens because the image that came to mind started it, even though it’s nothing but an image. This image has no positive or negative influence of its own. For an image to provoke a negative or positive emotion, a meaning must be assigned to it.
We can express this process with the simple equation below:
Image in mind + meaning assigned to it = positive or negative feeling
As you can see, the key component is not the image that comes to mind but rather the “meaning” we’ve assigned to it. This meaning is what triggers an emotional reaction. We experience countless examples of this in daily life. When different people experience the same event, they react in various ways, both inwardly and outwardly, because they associate different meanings with that event. If we observe ourselves as we grow older, we see how the same event can trigger completely different reactions within us.
I would like to emphasize here how emotions are entirely of our own making. There is a reality external to us, and we sense what happens in it. Now, when we have feelings, where do they come from? How can something we see create a feeling within us? When you see a fire and approach it, you feel its heat, but if you see someone being savagely beaten, where do your emotions come from? Are the emotions you feel somehow physically related to the actual incident? Of course they’re not. You feel the heat of the fire even when your eyes are closed, but you can’t react to events around you when you can’t perceive them. This indicates that our perceptions trigger feelings, but only based on the meanings we assign to them. (I need to state here that I’ll exclude extrasensory perceptions here, where some sensitive people can perceive things outside the usual senses.)
There is non-stop motion within our minds as they constantly manufacture various images and feelings. We are usually unaware of these, and we don’t notice how they constantly produce feelings within us in an entirely automatic way. Regardless of our awareness, this non-stop activity influences our entire lives, because we make decisions based on our moods. Before making any sort of action, we always need to make a decision, and our moods cause us to make good or bad ones. This is why we must control our moods before we can control our lives better.
How Did We Learn to Feel Bad?
We learned everything we do now, whether it be mental or physical, over the course of our lives. We learned to speak word by word by learning the meanings they symbolize. The movements our bodies make were also learned one by one.
Likewise, we also learned to associate certain feelings with certain situations. This is how we came to feel certain feelings when we see or hear certain things. As this happened more frequently, these reactions became automatic and created deeper traces. In short, they turned into habits. We mentioned above that certain moods are accompanied by chemical changes in the body. It’s as if the habit of feeling bad was not bad enough, so we also became addicted to the chemicals produced in our bodies. As a result, the more our feelings relied on external conditions, the more we came to need certain external circumstances to feel good.
We built an unconscious belief that certain things are necessary to feel good, and so we lost the unconditional bliss of our early childhood. Back then, we did not need any external requirements to feel happy, because happiness and joy were our natural state. Actually, it’s still our natural state, but now we believe that certain things are necessary to feel good. I ask, “Should we feel bad?” We can reply “yes” and “no”.
We could say, “Yes,” because the automatic emotional and mental habits we built over time will lead us to experience certain feelings in certain conditions. In other words, neurological connections that have become hardwired after repeating something many times will cause us to react in a certain way to certain conditions.
We could also say, “No,” however, because we can choose to reverse this mechanism anytime, so we can feel positive regardless of the external conditions. The first step is to direct our attention inward and observe how we feel under certain conditions. In this way, we become aware of the momentary feelings that constantly change within us as we perceive the outer world.
For example, you could try this right now: Close your eyes for a moment and think of the people you know, one by one. Spend a certain time on each one and imagine the voice and appearance of that person as vividly as possible. Do you notice how each image evokes different feelings within you? You can also apply this to all the influential events of your life. While you recreate each event in your mind, try to notice the feelings that change from moment to moment. Likewise, you could direct your attention to the objects or events around you now and see how they evoke different feelings within you.
By continuing these observations in your daily life, you will slowly, but surely, begin to understand what really happens within you.
Of course, having complete control over your emotions and directing them in a positive way can only be achieved by applying these methods over a long period. The first step, however, is to realize that it is possible to manage your emotions and arrange them, so they will motivate you in a positive way.
The moment you realize that emotions are your own creation, and once you believe you can control them, you will at least be open to this possibility. You can then slowly direct them to a more positive and higher level.