One of my earlier realizations was that my emotions are about what I am doing. My emotions correlate to what I am thinking about. My emotions correlate to what I am imagining and to what I am observing, that is, my emotions correlate to my mental activities. This goes contrary to our common use of language relating to emotions:
- “She made me mad”… she may have provoked me, but it is my focus upon what she did that makes me mad.
- “I don’t like him”….what I observe or what I interpret about him brings about the negative emotion of dislike. Again, it is my mental activities that are bringing about the negative emotions.
- “He made me laugh”… It is my observation and my correlating mental activities that make me laugh.
- “She is so emotional” or “his emotions got the better of him”….both those statements are really about a person’s thoughts becoming unregulated and out of control with the emotional system responding to the exploding mental processes.
The importance of this paradigm shift is that instead of me being disempowered by emotionally reacting to life’s tragedies and comedies, I can become empowered by using my emotions to regulate or influence what I choose to observe, think, and do. Instead of reacting to life’s events, I can start to choose the events in life to interact with, the events that stimulate my positive emotions. The meaning of depression or being depressed is that my thought patterns and thought habits have revolved around emotionally negative mental activities. For me to be mentally-emotionally healthy I must develop my ability to use my emotions to guide my mental activities to where I have the capacity to choose my mental activities based on my emotional responses.
Somewhere or somehow during my up-bringing my emotional system became corrupt. My emotional system was broken. I was “mentally ill”. I no longer had the capacity to respond to my emotional guidance as nature intended. I could not choose my mental activities based on my emotional responses. Mental-emotional health and well-being is about using emotions to regulate mental activities, to rebound off of emotionally-negative thoughts and onto, and towards, emotionally-positive thoughts or, at least, onto something less emotionally negative. This became my new approach to psycho-therapy.