“What about emotions?” This question was raised by a friend of mine when we were discussing YAYOM. While the Essentials tackle many aspects of being your own master, nothing is being said about emotions. Leaving out emotions of the Essentials was a deliberate choice. I will explain the reason in this post.
My friend’s literal question was “Is it possible to learn to control your emotions?”. As an example he mentioned the death of a child. Personally I have never experienced such tragedy (nor has my friend), so I don’t know what the emotions could be in the immediate aftermath and on the longer run when losing a child.
Awareness, not control
First let me say this: YAYOM is not about gaining control. It is about the awareness of the freedom that we all have and use to choose our actions and thoughts. Nevertheless, an inevitable interpretation of YAYOM is that you are in control of your thoughts and actions, for the simple reason that you are the only one who can change them at any time and in any direction.
But emotions are different. Personally, I don’t have the feeling I can control my emotions. They present themselves disregarding completely whether I am happy with them or not. That doesn’t mean I am showing my emotions all the time. On the contrary, I have taught myself to almost never show my emotions. But that control isn’t but the control of my actions. The emotion is still there, I just don’t let it show.
Awareness of emotions
Of course, we can still become aware of our emotions. We can learn to observe them without judgment in the same way as we can observe our thoughts and actions. Often our emotions trigger physical reactions, like headache or a smile or tense shoulders and jaws, and so on. We can learn to recognize these signals our body sends out and from there learn to watch ourselves from a distance.
Still, I do not feel like emotions can be a YAYOM Essential, as they can only be observed and eventually accepted, but not truly mastered. The essence of YAYOM is that not only do we have the freedom to fill in our actions and thoughts, but also that we ARE using that freedom, no matter what we do. For emotions that is clearly not the case.
Our emotions are not the outcome of our free choice.
Different actions, same emotion
I can imagine that different people react differently to a tragedy such as losing a child. That variety shows that we can control our actions and our thoughts. At the same time I can also imagine that even though people react differently, they still share the same emotion in regards to the lost child, which will probably be sadness and grief.
So, as an answer to my friend’s question, I’d say that emotions cannot be controlled, only observed and accepted. That is the reason why awareness of emotions is not an essential. That said, I believe it is surely interesting to learn ourselves to become aware of our emotions, most often communicated to ourselves by our body.
What about you? Maybe you have a better answer to my friend’s question? How do you deal with your emotions? Do they run away with you? Or do you try, like I do too often, to never let show? Let me know! Inspire me, share your emotions here or on Facebook.