Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More

Feelings Feel Me

Imola, Napa County, California, USA

June 25, 2020

"Feelings, nothing more than feelings, trying to forget my feelings of love." ... Morris Albert, Feelings

"... watchin' the ships roll in, then I watch 'em roll away again." ... Otis Redding, (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay
This essay, Feelings Feel Me, is the prequel to Who You Might Be Really.

I am indebted to Donovan Copley who inspired this conversation, and to Manal Maurice who contributed material.

I'm not what I feel, I'm not my feelings, I'm not even the "I" in the phrase "I feel  ...", the latter of which is the subject of another conversation which informs me (as stoopid  as it sounds) "I"  don't feel - literally. What's true is I have  feelings. More accurately (from an observer's experiential point of view) is "There are feelings.".

This conversation is about none of the above. It's not about whether you agree "There are feelings" is more accurate than "I feel ...", or not. It's not about whether it's smart to identify with your feelings (or with your "I" for that matter) or not. It's about whether or not feelings - and feeling (quote unquote) "bad" in particular - have the power to interfere with us being in action. It certainly seems as if they do. And there's a lot of agreement that they do. Yet they don't. Feelings don't interfere with being in action. Here's a simple experiment to prove they don't: wait until you're not feeling good, then raise your hand, and watch what happens. Report back to me whether or not, not feeling good interfered with you raising your hand ie whether or not, not feeling good had the power to interfere with you being in action, or not.

Results show we can raise our hand even when we're not feeling good - QED ie Quad Erat Demonstrandum:  feelings have no power to interfere with being in action.

Human beings have feelings. It's a fact. And there's nothing wrong with having feelings ... except that we futz with them waaay  too much. We try to stop them, get rid of them, negate them, fix them, analyze them, explain them, justify them, soothe them, change them etc. Yet like your fingernails growing, they're simply ongoing organic material ie they're machinery embedded in hamburger. The thing is (and this is the cherished legend dying hard) they're not subject to your control. And if they were subject to your control, I'll bet you'd be controlling them so that you'd feel good all day, yes? (Oh, you're working on that? And how's it going for you?).

As a goal, feeling good all the time, is naïve - moreover futile, frustrating, hopeless. Sometimes I feel good. Sometimes I don't. That's it. That's how feelings are. No matter what I do about my feelings, they're whatever they are, whenever they are. And occasionally I'll have a semblance / illusion of control over them ... until I no longer do, and I discover that at best, control over my feelings is fleeting, temporary, fanciful. Like ships on the bay, they roll away, they roll in, they roll away again.

The way (ie the appropriate way) to relate to feelings is to accept them as beautiful, automatic (often tyrannical)  components of life. I have all these great feelings ... and all these not so great feelings ... all those times I didn't feel good ... all those times I felt good. If I could have figured out a way to control them, if I could have come up with a way to have less bad feelings and more good ones, I'd have done so by now. It's not for want of trying. You won't come up with one because it's not an option - any more than human beings can come up with a way to control stopping inhaling and exhaling (temporarily yes ... but permanently? and it's game over).

Although we identify with our feelings (actually we mis-identify with them) and are stuck in the twilight zone  of "I feel ...", our feelings aren't who we really are. "I feel ..." is a fib, really. What's true is "Feelings feel me.". I have  feelings - yet they're not who I really am. And herein lies the access to discovering freedom from the confusion around the role feelings play in our lives: a far better use of my time is to examine who I really am - like my word  - and then honor my word regardless of whatever feelings I have going on. Feeling not so good? OK, got it: honor your word as who you really are ... and be in action. Feeling good? OK, got it: honor your word as who you really are ... and be in action. And notice your word comes with this added maneuverability: unlike your feelings, you have control over your word.

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© Laurence Platt - 2020, 2021 Permission