As I continue to study emotions for a book I’m writing, I have come across this astonishing bit from The Evolution of Consciousness:
“Mental processes are not organized around thought or reason but around emotional ideals: how we feel we want something to be. These may center on getting rich, getting married, getting even, getting ahead. These inner goads drive us. They suggest to the person where he’s going, what she should do, what should happen.
“Our emotions set our agenda…They govern our choices, they determine our goals and they guide our lives. We are, for the most part, in most of life their servants and we are usually not conscious of them.”
Yes, you read that correctly – we are the servants of our emotions! That makes me angry. But then that’s an emotion, and I don’t want to be its servant, so I will stop being angry. Sort of. I just experienced and described a minute version of what it means to be human. Well, a reactive human, anyway.
What I mean by that is what the quote’s author, Robert Ornstein, means. Our mental processes are organized around “how we feel we want something to be.” If the something turns out how we want, we are happy. If not, we are sad or angry. If a person or circumstance seems to threaten the way we want something to be, we must defend the something.
This is the opposite of being present. This is arguing with reality. And even if we know this, we go ahead and do it most of the time, anyway. Why? Because we get stuck in our “emotional ideals.” Where do these come from? Bingo – our personality type.
This author is (most likely) unwittingly describing the patterns of thought that we understand the Enneagram of Personality to be, the patterns that lead to emotions and behavior. Each of us believes one of nine central lies, what I call the Core Wounding Belief, that proscribes the emotional ideals that we will unconsciously serve for our whole lives.
But that’s not what God intended for us. It was for freedom that we were set free. God crowned us with glory and honor, not so that we could be enslaved by a lie in our minds but so that we could rule and reign with him on this earth, so that we could walk in joy and peace and destiny.
I believe that things like joy and peace are not emotions but states of being. I believe that emotions are the mind’s attempt to replicate those states of being because they are not present in us. Not most of the time, anyway. And I believe that the Enneagram bears these ideas out as it pulls aside the curtain of our false self to reveal our deep motives.
I’ve only got one life on this Earth—in this form, anyway—and I don’t want to spend it being an unconscious servant to my emotions. That doesn’t mean I hope to go through life feeling nothing; it means that I want to make the unconscious conscious, as Jung said, and live a life of my choosing. I want to find my true self, live out my destiny and, in so doing, give God maximum glory with my life. I can’t do that if my emotional ideals are running the show.
If you haven’t learned the Enneagram yet, please do yourself that favor. This blog is full of basic and intermediate information, and the audio CD and workbook I created will help a lot, too. Whatever learning method you choose, be prepared for an eye-opening journey that can truly transform your life.
I’d love the hear from you – your experiences, thoughts on emotions or anything else that struck you.