Do emotions come from within or without?

When emotions arise within us, we naturally look for a cause. More often than not, we look for this cause externally. We assume that we feel sad because our friend is upset, or angry because a driver cut us off. We create some story that explains our emotion, linking a sequence of events to whatever we are feeling.

However, it is important to also consider the reverse possibility. What if the emotion arose of its own accord, and only then did we invent a story to explain it? For example, we naturally have times when we feel up and times when we feel down. During a down time, it would be easy to think of negative events that have happened, and to then convince ourselves that these events caused our depression. Thus, we build a story to explain the emotion, not realizing that it actually arose from within. This is a dangerous habit, because we obscure the true cause of the emotion, and thus can no longer deal with it effectively. It is especially harmful when we convince ourselves that it arose from something that someone else did, because this causes us to blame them unfairly.

Hence, when we feel sad, we should just feel sad. When we feel irritable, we should just feel irritable. We don’t have to make up some story around our emotions, nor do we need to invent some reason to explain why we feel a certain way. Most importantly, we should never blame someone else for making us feel that way. Accept emotions. Realize they come from within. Through this acceptance we find peace, and then the emotions will no longer seem so important anyway.

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