By Brian Lynch, M.D.
We do not worry about the fact that we didn't eat yesterday or better yet that we did not breathe yesterday. Nor do we preoccupy ourselves with the fact that we where thirsty or sleepy yesterday. What are these situations? Well, they are referred to as drives. We have a drive to eat and sleep and breath.
Our drives are bodily functions that take place pretty much in the background and function on a daily basis; hunger, thirst, the need to breathe, the sexual drive, the need to evacuated and sleep. Of course this is not always the case. When food or money is not plentiful we will worry about tomorrow's meal and the hope for sexual activity occupies many a mind but again, for the most part the drives work on a twenty four hour cycle.
I now suggest that our emotions are meant to do the same. That feelings and emotions should be thought of as bodily functions that work throughout a given day. If they are not treated this way I suggest that almost all of life's problems center on the fact that we are after some type of "happiness" that does not exist. A hoped for future that we have no power over or means of knowing that we can achieve.
I now work on the belief that we have a basic set of feelings that are just as physical as our heart beat or kidneys or lungs. We are either angry, happy, distressed, fearful, experiencing shame, surprised, repulsed or interested. So, just as we have to go to the bathroom within a twenty four period and breathe, at least every few minutes, so we have to feel in our bodies. When do we feel? Well, I think we are "feeling" all the time but we are so used to it we usually hardly notice. Most of the time we have at least a low level "interest" in our environment. And interest is an emotional feeling.
Feelings motivate. Feelings tell us what to do. And we first want to get through today before we move on to tomorrow. This is important when we are thinking about "happiness."
If we "feel" in our bodies then we "feel" happy in our body now, today, not tomorrow. It would seem best then to pay attention to the "here and now" and solve our problems today and not get caught up in some sought after possibility of being "happy" tomorrow but we do so, so very often and neglect our problems of today.
Tomkins, Silvan S.: Affect Imagery Consciousness NY: SPringer Publishing Company, 1963.
Shame and Pride : Affect, Sex, and the Birth of the Self by Donald L. Nathanson Paperback (March 1994)
W.W. Norton & Company; ISBN: 0393311090
How To Get Where You Want To Go Brian Lynch, M.D. 2000 PageFree