Can our emotional life have an impact on the planet?
Most of us think that first come our thoughts and then our being or our emotions. This is because a lot of our scientific understanding is based on French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist Réné Descartes’ (1596-1650) words: Cogito, ergo sum (I think therefore I am). Another well-known French philosopher, however, Jean Paul Sartre posited the opposite statement: “I am, therefore I think.” This created a debate among philosophical schools.
I feel, therefore I am
When we are presented with a threat, this dilemma acquires a new dimension: a person’s areas of the brain linked to emotion are activated before the cognitive areas of the brain, according to research with brain scans. Something like “I feel, therefore I am” would be thus more appropriate. In our society, we are constantly presented with “potential threats” (climate change, financial collapse, terrorism, unemployment, domestic violence...). So chances are that we are first feeling and then thinking. However, when we are facing a threat, our thinking brains do not function at its best, so we can’t make the best judgment of a particular situation. It is only when our emotional and thinking brains work together that we can make the best decisions, for ourselves and for our planet.
In order to face all the challenges that our world is facing, it is important that all of us, human beings, will become masters of regulating our emotions, learning from them, and paying attention to their impact on our thinking. We currently need to make important decisions concerning our planet. If we let fear overwhelm us, our brains will not work at its best. From now on, working on improving our emotional well-being, reducing our stress levels, so that our brains are more apt to face the challenges ahead is paramount. If we make better decisions on a small scale, that will have implications at a larger scale.
To start learning how to regulate your emotions, I suggest a self-awareness exercise. Read a piece of negative news in the press and notice the impact of the words on your emotions, including body sensations. And then read the poem below and notice whether it has the same impact or a different one. Start learning how different your sensations feel depending on your situation; notice how you can come in and out of pleasant and unpleasant emotions, just by reading a text. This will teach you that self-regulation is within your reach. Enjoy discovering how you can change your emotional world. Notice the impact on your emotions of the following:
people around you,
a song you love,
a violent movie,
Get to know yourself better.
Now, here is the small exercise. Read this poem and notice how you feel afterwards.
How to enjoy life
Learn to watch snails
Plant impossible gardens
Make little signs that say “YES” and post them round your house
Make friends with uncertainty
Cry during films
Take lots of naps
Believe in magic
Laugh a lot
Celebrate every gorgeous moment of life
Have wild imaginings and transformative dreams
Cultivate perfect calmness
Giggle with children
Bless yourself and everyone else you meet
Entertain your inner child
Build a fortress with blankets
Hug the universe and write love letters often
© Alda Counselling - Exeter & Teignmouth