by Kit (Nicole Wojciechowski)
Love, hate, fear, anger, passion, joy, sadness, love, anxiety, pride, compassion, shame.
These are all emotions we’ve all felt at least once in our lives. I’d bet quite frequently. Sort them for me. Grab a piece of paper and write out a list. On your left, which of these are things a Jedi should feel? On the right, which are not? Add your own to the appropriate list.
Now take a look, is one longer than the other? How many of each side do you regularly experience? How do you feel about them? What have done while under their influence? What do you want to do with them?
Take a look at your list on the left. Do you practice them as much as you think you should? Do they frustrate you? Are they missing in your life?
What about the list on the right? Do they make you feel like you should lock them away? Suppress them? Do you feel bad for feeling them? Do you feel like you are failing when they rear their scaly heads?
You know what? These emotions? These feelings? They’re human. They’re a part of the human experience. And guess what else…you’re human too.
Many of us are influenced by the fictional Jedi, who are ruled by the Light and Dark side of the Force. It’s natural to bring that idea into our world. These “Dark Side” emotions of fear, anger, sadness, they are uncomfortable and often seem to end up with negative results. So naturally, we want to damn them, call them bad, shove them in a little bottle, and hide them in the depths of the closet. But they always come back don’t they? And when they do, we have a habit of feeling that we’re bad, that we’ve failed, because we’re experiencing a ‘bad’ emotion.
In my experience, these emotions, these dragons, have a reason for existing. They’ve kept us safe as a species for eons, either by binding us together, or driving us away from danger. They have a purpose. If you find yourself with a few of these overwhelming dragons, perhaps find out why they are here. What reason do they serve? Understanding why they work the way they do is the first step to finding compassion for your dragons, and yourself.
The next step is taking a look at these emotions and changing their classification. Instead of good and bad, let’s look at constructive and destructive.
Taking anger for example. This individual in front of you has made you angry. If you punch him in the face, this is you using your anger in a destructive way. You not only hurt him, you probably hurt your own fist, and your reputation, your job, your life even. (Now, this isn’t saying that sometimes a punch isn’t the right response, but let’s keep things simple.)
Your other option is to take your anger into a constructive path. Take it to the gym, the track, bring it into your art. Use your anger to fuel yourself in a productive way. Use it to build yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually, or use it to drive yourself to change what you’re angry about.
How about a ‘good’ emotion now: Compassion. That’s undoubtedly a positive emotion. Even the fictional Jedi are all about compassion for their fellow beings. But what happens when you’re so filled with compassion that you’re driven to give up everything you have to those less fortunate than yourself? That’s really sweet of you, but now what? Who can you help when you have absolutely nothing? This is an example of a good emotion taken too far to the point it enters the destructive field.
So I challenge you, the next time you feel an emotion, the next time your dragons roar, pause for a moment. Accept what you are feeling as a legitimate emotion, consider what it is trying to tell you, and work with it to constructive ends. Let me warn you now, that this is not an easy process. It’s a lot of self-study and being honest with yourself. Not to mention, being in such close proximity to anxious dragons is an uncomfortable place to be. It’s going to take time, and you will not always succeed. But like any training, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. And along the way, your dragons will become your friends and companions. Let them roar.
“But it is one thing to read about dragons and another to meet them.” -Ursula K. Le Gwinn, A Wizard of Earthsea