If we are not dramatic at the whim and mercy of every little issue that emerges, then how do we exist?
This piece from elephant journal by Damien Bohler does an excellent job of portraying the goal of the journey as I’ve defined it for myself: to be ok when things are not “ok”.
“The ability to stand outside of and witness our emotions (while simultaneously feeling them fully—which is embodiment) occurs as we mature. I never stop feeling, I just become less attached to my feelings as complete reality.”
So, if we do not react dramatically at the whim and mercy of every little issue, then how do we exist as humans? Are we to become emotionless beings walking around in perpetual poker face, where nothing affects us?
No, I don’t think so.
Having done a lot of emotional and relational work over the years, I don’t experience real drama in my life now. That does not mean, however, that I do not have feelings.
Emotions are information.
They are feelings that emerge within our bodies in response to the circumstances of our surroundings. This information is important because it gives us cues about how to respond appropriately to the inevitable waves in the ocean of our lives.
When we are living a drama-free life, what changes is how we react to our feelings.
Drama occurs when our feelings overwhelm us into volcanic eruptions of unconscious reactive behaviour. We lash out at those around us, or even ourselves, as if we could stop a landslide by yelling at it.
In drama, we think that the more commotion and noise we make, the faster the situation is going to be rectified. Drama blames and oppresses others or victimizes ourselves. These can be big, blown out, yelling matches or subtle, passive-aggressive affairs that erode and rot relationships over time.
The opposite of drama is responsibility.
It is the ability to see the bigger scope and context of a situation. When we seek to understand and resolve an issue we need information. Emotions are just one aspect of that information.
In conflict, I ask myself what is it that I am feeling: am I angry, hurt, afraid?
If I can connect to my own experience and observe it, I can share it with the other without making them at fault. No-one can actually make us have a feeling. They cannot reach inside our body-mind and squeeze some aspect of us to turn on or off some feeling.
They can, however, evoke something that already exists within us. Our proximity to another can cause evoke all kinds of feelings —it all arises inside ourselves. Our own history and upbringing determine exactly what emotions we feel in a way that is completely unique to us.
What I experience in response to the same stimulus is going to be quite different than what someone else experiences. What hurts another’s feelings might be easily shrugged off by me and vice versa.
Let’s consider the other person’s experience. What are they feeling?
We can look at our feelings and theirs and begin to observe all the effects. What happened, exactly? What is it that it causes us to feel this way? Maybe some way they acted clashes with a belief around appropriate behavior for me.
In drama, I will blame and make the other wrong for something they did.
In dharma, I will share the impact a situation had on me and also seek to discover what it is that was going on for the other. Maybe they have no idea whatsoever what is inappropriate for me–it may be totally normal for them.
Understanding who we are and that these reactive responses come from our past life experiences helps us to learn to create new responses and new life experiences.
The ability to stand outside of and witness our emotions (while simultaneously feeling them fully—which is embodiment) occurs as we mature. I never stop feeling, I just become less attached to my feelings as complete reality. My emotions are a part of a never-ending picture that is being painted moment-by-moment. I can zoom in on a feeling, admiring and reveling in the beautiful intricacy and delicate subtleties that it contains—then I can share those with another.
Always in peace and gratitude that we share this journey…