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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Spirituality of Primary and Secondary Emotions


“When you are disturbed [angry], do not sin;
ponder it on your beds, and be silent.”
Selah
~Psalm 4:4 (NRSV)
Ever lost complete control of the moment and not known why?  If you answered yes you’re just admitting being human.  This is the expression of secondary emotions.  In this case, anger was experienced because the truer emotion was denied somehow.
Spirituality and Emotion
Spirituality is the matter of integrity between ourselves and God.
We can consider that without spirituality there is nothing pertinent to life, for it gives all of life its meaning.  The spirituality of the emotions, then, is about facing the fact that at times we’re honest about how we feel and other times we’re dishonest—perhaps out of fear, embarrassment or discomfort.
Emotions, and how they’re dealt with, say a lot about how vibrant our spirituality is.  Therefore, there’s a salient connection between emotional intelligence and spirituality.  Both surround honesty—with ourselves, others and God.
Then Comes Life
Situations in life have their way of mussing our emotions.  Even the most emotionally intelligent of people grapple.
Life presents stimuli which we see as threats.  These are realities that bear unwanted consequences.  No matter how much we rationalise these things in our higher minds, our hearts feel a certain way about them—it’s innate.  Little can be done to change how we feel deep at heart.
But, we are not defenceless. This is the point.
Responding to the Challenging Situation
So, we have a time in mind when a challenge to our emotions was experienced; one we desperately wanted to respond well about.  The mind quelled the heart, but the heart still felt anxious.
The primary emotion is to do what the psalmist said: ponder and be silent.
We don’t try and fix something that, for our hearts, cannot be fixed.  It is what it is.  The primary emotion, therefore, has us feeling the full force of the emotion and being up for it.  In courage is truth—there is nothing to be feared, because this is just us facing ourselves.  It’s God placing a mirror before our faces.  This is Divine revelation—a miraculous gift.
The secondary emotion comes through when we deny our basic truth—when we deny the mirror.  Life is made tricky because our default is to bypass the clean and effective primary emotion for the secondary, fake emotion—the devil’s tool since the fall of humanity.
Anger is the classic secondary response; hardly ever is anger a primary (good/true) emotion. It can be, say in grief or in indignation, but most times it’s not.
The spirituality of this issue again rebounds in truth.
God gives us ways of properly meeting every life situation.  Nothing is beyond us if we deal in primary emotions.  This is part of the essence of our spirituality, a key to our relationships with others, and central to how we relate with the Spirit of God.
We can face anything.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

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