Lately, I’ve incorporated a new ritual into my morning practice. As soon as I wake up, even before I’m out of bed, I recite a set of affirmations from A Journey into Wholeness given to me by Benita Esposito. One of those affirmations is, “I find myself big enough to contain my emotions, and know that I am larger than they are.” It’s an interesting approach to bringing awareness to emotions as part of our being. Similar to Rumi’s guest house.
Understanding our emotions helps us process them on a conscious level, so our bodies don’t have to experience them on a physical level.
Robert Plutchik, a psychologist and professor at the University of Florida developed an evolutionary theory of emotion supposing that emotions have an evolutionary history. He believed there to be eight primary emotions - anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise,anticipation, trust, and joy. Like natural selection, he believed that our emotional responses adapted overtime, and were passed on as part of the psychoevolutionary process. Think the psychological version of Darwin. He even developed a ‘Wheel of Emotions” graphic to illustrate how nuanced our emotions can be.
He suggested 8 primary bipolar emotions: joy versus sadness; anger versus fear; trust versus disgust; and surprise versus anticipation. Additionally, his circumplex model makes connections between the idea of an emotion circle and a color wheel. Like colors, primary emotions can be expressed at different intensities and can mix with one another to form different emotions.
The theory was extended to provide the basis for an explanation for psychological defence mechanisms; Plutchik proposed that eight defense mechanisms were manifestations of the eight core emotions.
I find the theory fascinating, particularly how he incorporates the light and the dark aspects of emotions like surrender. Even though it’s quite colorful, it’s still a little two ‘defined’ for my taste. It would have been great (if he were alive) to see a collaboration between he and Eckhart Tolle.
The point is, no matter what emotions you experience, you can ride them out by being bigger than they are.
“Rather than being your thoughts and emotions, be the awareness behind them.”
- Eckhart Tolle
- Your Charmed Yogi