If you've been reading this blog for very long, or know me very well, you already know there are some recurring themes of things I often think about, and read about, research, ponder, talk about, ruminate on, try to figure out, etc etc ad infinitum. One of those topics is about our moods, feelings, emotions and how much we do or don't control them, how and why we react to them, how to manage them, how to cope. Something like that. It's interesting stuff.
I am often bothered by the notion that we can "choose to be happy" or that we "choose to be offended" - or any of these ideas that somehow we can just make a mental choice to feel whatever it is we think we "should" be feeling - or not feel what we "shouldn't". Quite frankly, (and I know I'm treading on dangerous, controversial ground here), I don't buy it. Now, before anyone attacks me with their own strong opinions on this, let me just allow that I am still working these things out in my own mind. I haven't gotten it all figured out. And let me humbly assert that, ahem, neither do you . . . or anyone else. We are all human, forming our own fallible opinions based on our own very individual, limited experiences. We don't have all the answers and we cannot know what anyone else is really experiencing, much as we might try.
But, this quote above rings true to me. Or at least mostly true. I saw it on Pinterest and added it to my collection and I've been mulling it over, trying to decide what I think. I think it is important to let ourselves feel whatever emotion is being evoked in us. Really and truly, I think it is healthy to acknowledge all our feelings, good and bad, positive and negative, all the things we should or shouldn't feel. I am not sure that we really make conscious choices to feel anything. But we can choose what to do with our feelings. And like this quote, we can choose (more or less) what we will focus our thoughts on, which waves we will surf. This analogy strikes me because I think that some days, the waves are just a little rougher than others. There are days when our choices of which waves to ride are just a little more limited because of the conditions creating the waves. Not to mean it is out of our control completely. Or that we are left completely at the whim of external circumstances. I don't know for sure how much of the waves we help to create ourselves, or the conditions that create the waves. There's a lot to consider I guess and I can't pretend to expect this analogy to stand up to all scrutiny. It certainly doesn't.
I guess part of what I'm trying to express though is that sometimes it feels to me like we are bombarded by huge rough tumbling towering waves, one right after the other, no breaks, no breathers, no clearly "better" ones to surf. It feels to me like sometimes it's all we can do just to keep our head above water and try to make it back to shore in one piece. There is also a bit of skill to be learned, like surfing. I've never surfed so I really don't know - but I imagine it takes quite a bit of practice to learn which waves are "better" to ride, and it takes lots of practice to be able to surf without a whole lot of "wiping out." Knowing how to deal with our own feelings and especially those of others is tricky business, a lifelong pursuit. I can even see that surfers must also take a lot of time to learn how to read the conditions and ascertain when maybe it's just best to observe the waves from afar and not jump in and paddle too far out. In other words, maybe sometimes we just need to observe our tumultuous stormy feelings and let them work themselves out on their own.
I don't know. Hm. What do you think about all of this? Am I trying to read too much into a rather simple concept? Is it helpful at all to you to think of feelings as waves and choosing which ones to surf - or not? Am I just waxing a little to deeply (psycho) philosophical? Should I just keep my thoughts to myself? ;)
Be nice (as always, of course). But do share. Thanks!