Emotions are what make us human beings human. These emerge as our responses to the environment we are in and our reactions to certain situations that may or may not be favorable to us. Furthermore, these are also huge factors that can influence the decisions we create for ourselves and to the ones that surround us. Without these, it would be impossible to convey what we intend to say and communicate to inform others of what we truly feel about a situation, thing, or someone.
From the weather forecast reported on the television to the traffic on the road, our emotions are automatically generated even when we’re not aware. The feelings immediately allow you to think about the course of action you think is appropriate. Moreover, emotions are not only fixated on one type. There are numerous instances where a particular situation enables you to release a multitude of emotions, and sometimes, you cannot stop them from emerging. The immense power of our brains to develop two or more emotions at once could be complex to comprehend but yes, it has the capability to do that.
This is a common term encountered when studying Buddhism and it does reflect the way we handle our emotions. Afflictive emotions, in the simplest terms, are the causes of the suffering that we endure in our lives. These emotions are anger, jealousy, pride, attachment, and ignorance. Each will be explained individually as to why these specific emotions are the four main sources of our painful experiences.
Firstly, anger is a destructive emotion that can affect our mental stability. In situations where one exhibits high levels of anger, the ability to produce reasonable arguments is decreased. In some cases, it can even lead to making poor decisions. It is indicated by Buddhists that to counter such afflictive emotion is to develop values of compassion and patience. While it would be very difficult to deal with every person who has wronged you without being angry, however, it is much easier to overcome such an intense feeling by keeping it to yourself.
When people throw false accusations at you of bad things you’ve never committed, it may be unfair to you at first. However, you have to realize that you don’t need to address such concerns through anger. At the end of the day, you know yourself better than everyone else and as much as it’s tempting to change people’s view of you, you must realize that it is only right to channel your anger into something that could benefit everyone. Instead, learn to generate the attitude of understanding how things had come to such situations and addressing them in a way that does not involve hurting anyone’s feelings. With that, you not only help others to rethink their actions but at the same time, you train yourself to stay calm and prevent making unnecessary responses.
Jealousy and Pride
Next is jealousy which is heavily associated with pride. Pride is connected with jealousy in a way that your thoughts are always clouded by the fact that there will always be people who would do better than you in all aspects of your life. You feel like your pride is affected whenever you meet someone who’s doing well and it hurts to admit that they’re in a better position compared to yours. This immediately releases negative emotions in you like sadness and jealousy.
When you’ve expressed feelings of jealousy, you limit your view to one perspective of the circumstance instead of viewing its entirety. This prevents you from actually assessing the situation from a matured viewpoint and would rather stick to envious thoughts. Then, you begin making excuses for yourself instead of thinking of ways on how to improve. Indeed, jealousy hampers your growth as an individual, as a person, and would have you dwell on self-destructive thoughts. To address such emotion, self-love is an important part of boosting your self-esteem even when you’re aware that there will always be people who are better at the things you do. In combating pride, humility is the best way to keep yourself on the ground and focus on improving yourself.
Moving on, attachment also stems from feelings of jealousy or pride. Since you’re too consumed with the fact that everything should revolve around you and that things should happen the way you want them to happen which shouldn’t be the case. You’re too fixated on this flawed perception of permanence because of the initial concept you’ve built in your mind.
This is dangerous, especially when it greatly affects the people around you. It normally happens without you noticing. You have to accept that things happen for a reason and you need to let go of this control because there are things that no matter what you do, you just cannot change. Learning to be content after knowing you’ve done the best that you can is a refreshing and freeing feeling.
Lastly, ignorance is the most threatening emotion among the five as Buddha emphasized that it is the main source of our suffering. This is because the said emotion is born out of feelings of discontentment or dissatisfaction.
You perceive things as how you initially see them, without even checking or understanding the entire thing. Just because it seems that your friends are weaker than you in terms of academics, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re stupid. They may be good at other aspects such as sports or the arts. Ignorance can be combated by training oneself to be open-minded and suspend your judgments especially when you do not have any idea about the situation.
Mindfulness meditation is a way to directly address the mentioned afflictive emotions. By training yourself in being fully aware of your environment, your individual growth would continue to improve. Soon, you’d see yourself handling situations with maturity and acceptance. Visit the MD Mindfulness to access resources relating to mindfulness meditation.