I’ve long been a slave to my emotions. A willing slave, to be sure, because I believed my emotions pointed to the most sensible answers. Most of the important decisions I faced in my life were based on how I felt about the circumstances of the choice. I am wired to have emotional reactions, to the possible detriment of myself or my situation. I am capable of rational thought, and of reasonable decisions, but I don’t use that ability very often. This situation seemed normal to me, and my decisions made sense when I made them. After all, feelings hold sway over every part of my life.
For most of my half-century of existence, I lived in a very deep depression. The causes aren’t important anymore; I am finally more interested in today than yesterday. But I didn’t come to this understanding easily. In my later years, from age 40 to age 50, I received all the tools to overcome my sadness, but as my sister S. is fond of saying, I couldn’t know something I didn’t know. We talked for hours about feelings, and I listened to the wisdom she offered, but something was not clicking. I remember scoffing at Don Miguel Ruiz’ Agreement, Don’t Take Things Personally. Of course I took things personally — I didn’t know any other way to take anything.
Finally, one day, I got it. I understood, as I never managed to before, that no one else was making me feel anything; that every different emotion, including all of the hurt and feelings of being persecuted by my own body, were in fact in my own control. Just believing that one tenet, that no one can hurt me unless I let them, allowed me to listen to others with a clearer head. What I found was that, once I removed that personal defensive filter, almost everything situation in which I felt hurt or angry was NOT personal.
I found that if I remembered that many people I knew were, at least in part, operating under their own defensive filters; that what someone said to or about me was seeing me from their point of view, not mine. I don’t know why I didn’t figure that out sooner, but that doesn’t matter, because I have now, and I let anything judgmental simply blow away, just fade away as soon as I hear it. I am going to be a happy person, and no one can hurt me unless I let them.