Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Emotions. A fourth-rate navigation system.

I used to navigate by emotion. I want to feel good. I check my emotions. I don't feel good. So I use my intellect to devise a plan to feel good. And my body is pressed into service (its opinion, by the way, is not asked).

The result: I rarely felt good.

If you've tried this for a few decades, and you do not feel good, give up; wave the white flag.

What is the alternative? Navigate by principle, use emotion as an early warning system for possible errors in thought, use intellect to devise the plan, and power the whole thing with spirit. And consult the body along the way, as it never lies.

How do you navigate by principle? The guiding principle (page 128, 'Alcoholics Anonymous') is giving rather than getting: in every situation, what can I give? The guidance behind this guiding principle comes from God, and hence comes all strength.

To give, my life needs to be maintained, so sometimes I need to look after myself in order than I can fit myself to be of maximum service to others (page 77), but for that reason in particular, not for its own sake.

To live by emotion is to live like a five-year-old. You can dress up the consequences with fancy words all you like, but it's essentially immature.

The AA programme is about growing up and developing character rather than personality. Not a popular topic, but this is all that is on offer.

The results of living by principle are peace, power, happiness, and a sense of direction.

My emotions do not really matter. They are no more valid or invalid than a cloud in the sky is valid or invalid. It just is. They just are. What is certain is that their examination yields little benefit and any attempt to control them is the tail wagging the dog.

And I do feel good, incidentally. What a great by-product!

No comments: