Friday, December 10, 2010


Recently, a professor and I were talking about attachments to people, emotions, and concepts. In the Western world in which we live, we are conditioned to react to things that upset us or cause unhappiness. I mentioned my frustration over the way people and/or situations can affect my emotions in a drastic manner, and he looked at me excitedly and said, "But you don't have to react. All you need to do is recognize what you're feeling without responding to it or giving into the feeling." I asked, "But how do you do that?!" I forgot his answer, so I emailed him...

...and this was his response:
"You really cannot NOT react to negative emotional situations.  You will always have some visceral reaction (e.g., anger) though you may not necessarily act on it behaviorally (punch the person).  However, most of the time we are not aware of that visceral reaction to the point that we become ONE with that emotion.  In other words, ANGER = ME or I.  Ever felt an emotion fully consume you?  Mindfulness is about being aware of when an emotion arises and taking that emotion for what it is -- not dismissing, ignoring, suppressing, altering the emotion, and more importantly not judging yourself for having that emotion.  Awareness is the very first step to being empowered.  When you are aware, you disidentify from the emotion (anger does not become 'you' or 'you' do not become 'anger'). It then gives you a lot more freedom to decide what to do behaviorally.  Thus, your responses become more authentic (more centered, and in alignment with your goals and values) rather than being reactive."

 By choosing the appropriate response to a situation and/or emotion, it holds no power over us. We can certainly let it influence us, and most of the time, we do. The point is, however, that we don't have to.

And I need a proper transition, but I don't have one. So, onward to an over-shopped but pretty photo that has nothing to do with anything:

I don't think any woman could say that a man has never held some sort of sway over her; that he couldn't influence her actions and emotions without her thinking twice about it. I know I cannot say that a man (actually, let's be honest, many men) haven't held power over me in some way.

A friend said to me the other day, "What amazes me is that you can be so curt about it. Like, you know what you want or what you liked about a man, and when it turns out not to be so, you just know it isn't right and go another direction. It seems like, from what you've told me anyway, that it's kinda like that for you. You definitely experience an emotional connection with someone, but when you know there is something that will absolutely make it not work, you are all right with letting it go."

I am not so sure that I agree with her. I do know what I want, and when I realize "man A" is not what I want, I can easily let him go, even if there is some residual anger or confusion. It is not as easy when I start to idealize "man B" or when I've emotionally committed myself 90% to a relationship (I wonder if it will ever be 100%). (Also, I have a feeling women idealize their love interests more than men do, though I have no evidence for this.) And this links back to our perception of ourselves and of others.  Jean-Paul Sartre said that a friend (in the best case scenario, a friend who is not very close to me) knows me better than I know myself. This is because an acquaintance can be more objective, while I cannot. I am myself. I cannot step outside of myself and evaluate how I behave. Anyway, this particular friend is not a best friend, so, according to Sartre, she is certainly more objective about this than I myself am.

I must constantly tell myself that I am stronger than I realize. I am stronger than most realize. Yes, I am sensitive and emotional. This does not mean that I am not powerful. I can let men influence me negatively, or I can choose to let them influence me positively. I can let women tear me down, or I can choose to experience that emotion, and then decide to simply let it go. (Unfortunately, "let it go" is a vague and inconspicuous phrase, which makes it hard to explain or even define.)

In fact, all the people I know on a personal level do not give enough credit to themselves when it comes to what they can withstand. For instance, I have a friend who has been to hell and back, and she's merely 22. But, she's still intact. She's still alive; she's still sane. She is a warrior in every sense of the word, even if she may not realize it herself.

To my Amazonian Warrior, who is strong and vulnerable.

(photos via fashiongonerogue)

(Note: I looked for photos that had a "power" theme, but they were all sexually laced. And of course they would be, it is woman's only hold over man: sex. /sarcasm...though sometimes I wonder if that's true) 
(Note Deux: I realize this post is kind of all over the place.)

No comments: