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The Wrong Discussion

Updated: Jul 24

Hello and welcome to this glorious Friday, May 15, 2020! This is a rare and precious day that will never come again. It may be our last…

There is a wise saying that suggests you should never make a promise when you’re happy or a decision when you’re angry.

I feel like my biggest shift in awareness came about when I started to realize just how much my internal feelings and emotions affect how I experience the world around me. When I’m stressed out, anxious, hungry or tired, even my best friend can irritate me. Alternatively, when I’m calm, relaxed and what I call “spiritually fit,” I can scroll through Facebook or the news without getting triggered. If, on the other hand, I scroll through the news or Facebook when I’m even slightly irritated, in fear, or simply being unmindful, I can find myself having all sorts of righteous thoughts on how others should be living. If I am not aware of how I’m feeling in that moment, I may impulsively react to whatever it is that has me all worked up.

What I have learned through my mindfulness practice is that every emotion I have comes with a filter that affects not only how I perceive the world, but also how I respond to it. My emotions assure me that my thinking is true and accurate. But how many times have I gotten all riled up, so sure of myself and my thinking, and the next day realized that, under the influence of yesterday’s emotion, I overreacted, or, was flat out wrong? Too many!

Any discussion in the wrong mood is the wrong discussion!

Without deeply realizing it, I lived much of my life in a perpetual state of fear and anxiety. I knew superficially that I was anxious, but I didn’t realize how this fear-based emotion tainted my perception of the world around me and how it influenced my discussions (and decisions).

In response to this pandemic, I see a lot of fear-based discussions. Based on my limited knowledge and understanding, it seems that there are healthy fear-based discussions, and unhealthy ones. On a side note, even though I was a nurse and have a good understanding of asepsis, it’s funny how with absolutely no training in epidemiology, virology, or even any formal training in public health, I can have opinions on how the government and public officials should have responded to this virus! Hahaha. But meow I’m moving away from the topic! OK, back to fear-based discussions.

It wasn’t until I started meditating and practicing other mindfulness techniques that I became aware of how my internal state of being - my emotional state – affected how I perceived and responded to the world around me. Not realizing that I was in a constant state of fear allowed me to take part in a lot of fear-based discussions.

In response to the COVID-19 response, I see a lot of suffering people point out and accuse others of being afraid. I often wonder if they are like me and can’t see their own fear. I suggested to one of my friends that perhaps he was scared. He replied, “I’m not scared at all, I’m angry!” Maybe this is accurate, maybe it isn’t. Regardless, a discussion when we’re angry is also the wrong discussion. He and I were having the wrong discussion.

Though the intensity, nature and duration may vary greatly, we seem to always have the presence of an emotion. It doesn’t matter what emotion you’re experiencing; it influences your perception and response. If we don’t have a metacognitive awareness that we are in fact experiencing an emotion, our emotions may in fact be having our discussions for us.

Developing some introspection, some insight into what we are feeling in any given moment, is crucial for living a mindful life in alignment with our values. For if our emotions are having our discussions for us, how can we ever develop meaningful relationships based on how we truly feel deep within our hearts?

I love you and there isn’t anything that you can do about it!

Blessings,

Dan

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