There are certain feelings that are troublesome to us which become triggers to action. And the action is usually designed to get us out of the feeling state or revenge ourselves on those whom we feel “made” us feel in an unpleasant way.
Werner Erhard used to call these feelings “unwanted conditions.” They’re what’re being discussed when it’s said that we seek pleasure and avoid pain. Our bias is that these feelings are to be avoided or escaped from when upon us.
This way of being with unwanted feelings is usually ironclad, unquestioned, automatic.
Where is the leverage point in this situation? Is there something we’re missing here?
Must we automatically escape from unpleasant feelings? Must we automatically lash out at another when we feel these ways? What are we (what am I) not seeing?
Is this situation a tightly-tangled ball of string or is there some way to tease the strands out and undo the knots?
By the time we realize the situation is upon us, that situation has become a two-step process. The first step is feeling in ways that are unpleasant and objectionable to us. And the second step is how we react to the situation, what we say or do to ourselves and others.
Theoretically the maneouvering room could lie with either of those two steps.
I notice that simply separating the two steps and approaching them separately provides me with my first bit of manoeuvering room. But let me look further.
(1) Dealing with the Unpleasant or Objectionable Feelings
I’m experiencing a modicum of resentment at this moment out of feeling attacked by another. Let me look at what resentment feels like.
I feel anger at a level below the surface of my awareness. The fact that it’s slightly below awareness, on the back burner so to speak, is why I call it resentment rather than anger.
What’s problematic about that resentment/anger? There’s a social component. A voice inside me says I should not feel angry. So I am going against what I believe is the ideal behavior for myself and in society and that induces me to think “I have a problem.”
But do I have a problem? Or do I just have anger? I see right away that questioning whether anger is a problem has induced that anger to lift slightly.
The anger continues to lift as time proceeds and what I take away from that is that the anger itself was perhaps not the problem but that the self-judgement I added to it may have been the actual problem.
The anger has now reached a point where it’s simply there but barely noticeable. I’m beginning to forget why I originally felt anger or who may have been involved. It’s fading back into the sea of forgetfulness.
I’m further convinced that the self-judgement that the anger was a problem is what may have made the situation problematic.
(2) Dealing with How I React to the Situation
Because the anger lifted as a result of managing my self-judgement, I feel no need to react to the situation so the second step of the process automatically receded and dissolved when the first step was handled.
In fact I feel “restored to Self,” as Werner would say, and feel no further need to look at the second step.
What I’m left with, as a testable hypothesis for future experiments, is that adding self-judgment to the way I feel, if the way I feel is seen to be negative, problematic or anti-social, is what causes the feeling to pass from being simply what is to being an “unwanted condition.”
If I simply accept the feeling as a feeling and don’t add self-judgment to it, it arises and passes away without me needing to do very much about it, perhaps apart from simply observing it.
My tentative conclusion is that judging myself is the step taken that turns what is into a problem. Releasing my judgment of myself and the situation may be all that’s needed to lift the persistence of the feeling and prevent an “unwanted” feeling from becoming a “problem.”
(1) “Coaching Has Been a Lifesaver,” at http://goldenageofgaia.com/2013/08/coaching-has-been-a-lifesaver/.