A Helpful Guide Through The Fog

Do all of us have the ability to discern and interpret the information coming from our emotions? How does that process work? How can we excel at it? Since emotions are a difficult and scary topic for many people to talk about you can see them shy away or even become hostile if you bring it up. Emotions are fundamental and instinctual to our being. It would be prudent and a hallmark of maturity to attain mastery in this area.

A way to think about emotions is that there is that something happens to us and we have a reaction to it. So, if a friend calls me and he wants to tell me for the fifth time this month that he had an argument with his girlfriend, they didn’t resolve it, and they had a freak-out session, I’m going to feel annoyed. Why have that particular reaction to the call? Why not feel happy, scared, or excited? I would most likely be annoyed in that situation because I am recognizing that my friend is stuck in a very negative pattern and not making any productive progress towards a resolution. I definitely don’t want to be stuck, like he is, hearing about people being immature and crazy. Ideally, I would like to work to negotiate through problems with others and have friends fully capable of doing that as well.

Can you see how, in my interpretation, my interests are being harmed and I have such a response to it as being annoyed? How many more times would it have to happen before I become angry that my time is being wasted?

In another scenario lets say the same friend had called me with a different story. This time he says that there has been a profound difference in the way he and his girlfriend have approached the argument. Recognizing that they are so important to one another they have gone slow, asked questions, and listened carefully to the responses. Instead of waiting for their turn to speak they were patient and thoughtful about each of their individual needs. How might I feel then? I think there would be a big difference and I would feel proud, happy, and respected that they have tried what I recommended for their success. That is time well spent and the rewards are much more positive emotional responses.

It’s not easy to interpret and work through the emotional process. Past experiences have shown us an example of what to expect in certain situations and programmed us how to respond. If someone has argued with us and demanded they get their way we can falsely expect each person in our future to do it the same way. For sure many will but for those who would be willing to hear you out and expect the same from you it could cause a problem if we go unconscious that there is a difference.

There are many difficult blocks to moving through the emotional process. It’s been beautifully layed out by filmmaker, writer, musician, and former psychotherapist Daniel Mackler here in his YouTube videos The Four Stages of Emotional Healing part 1 and part 2.


The Four Stages of Emotional Healing illustration

1. Dissociation

There is a numbness or deadness of feeling. The part of the mind has been hurt and is temporarily offline due to being overloaded. It is a part in stasis, a part with an opportunity sometime in the future to be brought back online and healed with care, effort, and pain. That is, if it were not a daily goal to maintain this state of being.

It’s normal(normalized by society) to be in this state. The true thoughts and feelings of the person are in hiding. Instead what exists is a personality. It hates itself, others, the truth, and seeks to have it’s revenge on the world, typically in a passive-aggressive way.

2. Depression

Sometimes a person can become aware of of the underlying emotional injuries. It’s painful and the usual mechanisms that keep them numb aren’t working and have become exhausted. During this time people can sometimes seek help from others but usually with the goal of going back into dissociation. The opportunity is there to grow and reach the next step. How many will choose to develop themselves further? Not many.

There will be a lot of pain at that time and there will be almost nobody that can help interpret what is happening and guide us to understand. Those who choose to go beyond depression should beware others who will criticize you unjustly for having pain, feeling it, and trying to understand it deeply. Others would prefer to manipulate and scorn the depressed person back into dissociation so they themselves do not have to confront any discomfort of their own.

3. Grieving

After acknowledging the pain we can make the conscious choice to really understand and embark on a journy of healing. It involves making changes to lifestyle and community that support health rather than the maintenance of dissocation. Questions like “Where does this pain come from?” and “Why is it happening?” can be a good place to start. Learning about ourselves and how we have gotten into the state we are in along with positive actions to support growth will allow the person to move beyond the grieving stage.

It doesn’t matter if we know someone who we believe has suffered more greatly than ourselves. Our own invidual experiences, our history, has the most significant impact on how we live every day.

Each injury has a cause-and-effect relationship with your emotions. Finding out the cause, who has done it, and maybe even confronting others about their involvement can be helpful. It is one of the most fearsome and volatile stages to embark upon. Those who have tried find themselves alone in a desolate wild, tangled, disoriented, and more free than ever before imagined.

4. Enlightenment

It is possible to reach a state where the truth of our own experiences is no longer blocked off and we can feel the weight of it. After working through the pain and traversing ambivalence a human being in this state can embrace reality and give a contiguous account of their history. It is incomprehensible to those in the lower stages of emotional development that someone can even exist in this state.

Within the framework of any society there are very few catalysts for achieving this mentality. It is the opposite. Most activities are centered around the maintenance of emotional stuntedness. Even reaching this point creates incompatibilities with most people. It’s like trying to stay clean while walking in your finest clothes through a pig sty. Humanity is just starting to realize the potential of wisdom, clarity of thought, and benevolence through philosophy.


So few, a miniscule amount of people, will go all the way through and realize the process. Most will stay bound up between stages one and two, dissociation and depression. It’s a shame but that is truly the reality of human life. People have existed that way for the entirety of known history. These ideas and practices of self knowledge for the purposes of growth are new. If allowed to flourish an entirely new world would take shape the likes we cannot currently conceive. Living at peace in the world has only been done in pockets and with much persecution by barbarian imbeciles.

Is it worth going through the stages and becoming so much different than before? Each person would have to ponder if they could do it and to weigh out if they can handle the consequences or not. In the end it has the possibility of opening up the greatest truth and positive relationships. However, nothing is guaranteed except a wild ride.

Author Tony Crowe, Salt Lake City, UT
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