Proverbs 23:7 and Our Emotions

by Joshua Tilghman on September 22, 2013

Color of EmotionsHave you ever wondered how to purge yourself of a particular negative emotion that keeps repeating itself in your life? It’s not as hard as it may seem. If you are currently experiencing negative emotions in your life, this post may be particularly beneficial to you.

The first thing that you need to realize is that you are not your emotions. This may seem obvious when you think about it, but most of the time we take this for granted. You may feel a certain way in a certain situation and subconsciously you identify with it. That’s why people sometimes think, “I’m a depressed person.” Or, “I’m an angry person.”

Most of the time the truth is that they subconsciously believe they are a depressed or angry person which continually reinforces itself in certain situations. But do they have to continue being that way? The Bible gives us a pretty straightforward answer that is quite encouraging.

Proverbs 23:7 states that whatever a person thinks in his or her heart, so is he/she. This means there is a tremendous opportunity to experience positive emotions. The Biblical writer could make such a statement because he realized that his true self, the eternal aspect, is the power that gives rise to thoughts and emotions. This means that the true self can give rise to different thoughts and emotions, and whatever a person chooses to think, they become.

There is something that should be immediately obvious to us then: we are certainly not at the mercy of external events and the emotions they sometimes cause. We are magnificent beings with the power to express more positive emotions even in the midst of a seemingly unhappy circumstance.

But Doesn’t Time Heal Anyway?

You have heard the saying, “time heals.” If so, can’t we just wait it out? This is only partly true, and it’s not a conscious strategy. The negative emotion you might feel over a particular event, like a bad break-up with a partner for example, does seem to naturally dissipate in time. But that particular feeling is still buried in the subconscious somewhere and certain events can trigger it again. It hasn’t really been healed; your conscious attention just hasn’t been placed on it in between the circumstances that cause it to manifest. The same emotion may even rear its ugly head in a totally different type of situation that you can’t make any kind of conscious connection with. In other words, thinking time will heal you is only a temporary fix; you’re still going to be at the mercy of a particular pattern of emotion in the long run. Isn’t this the very opposite of the idea that time eventually heals everything?

I remember a person that I became quite close to when I was younger. We spent every weekend together. Often we went to the beach, went on walks, or just hung out around the house. I was very happy with her and enjoyed her company immensely. After a few months I told this person how I felt about her. She reciprocated and I believed we were both on the same page. But then I went out of town for a month over the summer and when I came back she had had a relationship with someone else. I had been downgraded from a relationship partner to casual friend just like that. As you can imagine, I was in shock. The entire time I was away I was looking forward to returning and picking back up where we left off. We had communicated during my time away, and I thought for sure we had something good going. To make a long story short, I became very hurt by the experience. But that wasn’t the particularly damaging part. Most of us have had a similar type experience. But the emotion that initially arose from such an experience became such a permanent part of who I believed I was that it carried over into my next relationship. It then carried over into the relationship I had with the woman who would eventually become my wife. I was very distrustful and it was a long time before I could tell the wonderful girl I loved how I really felt about her. This confused her and it definitely started us off on the wrong foot. Looking back now, I can see how much damage that did to the early phases of our relationship and marriage. So no, time doesn’t really heal. It just allows certain emotions to stay dormant awhile.

Becoming Conscious of Your Emotions.

I am going to propose a better solution: allow consciousness to transmute a negative emotion into a positive one. How do you do this?

The best way is to simply acknowledge the emotion when it arises. Hold it there. Meditate on it. Observe it. Just observe it. Don’t let a mental commentary begin running. The minute you let a mental commentary run you have identified with it. At that moment you are it. You have taken the eternal power that you are, consciousness, and identified that power with an emotion that does not uplift you. Remember, as a man thinks in his heart, so is he! (Proverbs 23:7).

Of course that is not what you want. But consciousness is impartial. It’s powerful, yes, but impartial. It becomes what you allow yourself to experience. This is part of what being an unconscious human being is.

Make sure you do not meditate on the situation that made the negative emotion manifest in the first place. This is what you are naturally tempted to do. But that is a mistake. That’s part of the running mental commentary and it only reinforces that emotion becoming more established in your personality.

Just let it be. Meditate on the feeling itself. Understand and acknowledge that you are not that emotion. It’s just a temporary experience. As you do this, the power of consciousness will begin to dissolve it. Its vibrational frequency will begin to change. Remember, just observe. No judging. No thinking. If you haven’t developed the ability of concentration power yet in meditation, (like I talked about in a recent series HERE), then I suggest you begin with this first. It won’t effectively deal with the negative emotion you might be having now, but it will allow you to later. We all have to begin somewhere.

Why does this work, anyway?

Consciousness itself is naturally at peace. Higher emotions, those of a higher vibrational frequency, are inherent in consciousness. When you shed the light of consciousness on a negative emotion, it must begin to change. This can’t be explained scientifically very well. Consciousness just is, and it is the beginning and end of everything.

For those of you that like analogies, I’ll provide a simple one:

Picture holding a magnifying glass on a hot sunny day over a dried-out dead leaf. The natural sunlight is your consciousness. The magnifying glass is the meditation. The dried up leaf is your negative emotion. As you hold the magnifying glass over the leaf, the sun’s light is concentrated into a beam that chemically changes the leaf. Without the concentrated sunlight the leaf remains. It would take quite a long time for it to break down naturally. But with enough concentrated sunlight that leaf must change. In the same way, when you observe your negative emotion, consciousness is turned on to that emotion and its frequency must change.

When you notice that the negative emotion is losing its power over you, it’s time to replace it with something positive. You are what you think. So think on something positive.

This process isn’t an instant fix, but it works. Let me know how it turns out for you should you decide to try it.

In the next post we’ll get a little more philosophical and discuss the true meaning for the symbol of Noah’s Ark. Hint: it’s not really a boat!

Blessings!

Nikkolaus September 22, 2013 at 8:43 pm

Many get so buried in leafy emotions, they can’t see the sun or magnifying glass right in front of them. In such cases I believe the violet flame comes in handy. People are so busy they don’t see what they are really doing to create there emotions thus confusion arises. Justification for emotions is attempted because the higher vibrational feelings are lost under the pile. An initial breathe of fresh air can wake one up to truth of their liberty, but at times that awakening an be painful if the negative ego is prodded to much.

Joshua Tilghman September 25, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Quite true, Nikkolaus.

Anthony September 23, 2013 at 9:36 am

Beautiful analogy!

Joshua Tilghman September 25, 2013 at 9:56 pm

Glad it made sense to you Anthony!

Brian September 23, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Purging yourself of an unwanted emotion is like trying to purge yourself of an empty fuel guage in your motor car.

The relevant cause and effect relationships are elsewhere.

My anger is nothing more than a signal that my needs are not being met. The useful details lie elsewhere.

Perhaps my expectations about how hard I will need to work to have my needs met are confused. Perhaps I have miscalculated my real needs. Perhaps I have not clarified my true needs in a given area. Perhaps I need to be more assertive in getting my needs met.

Tackling these cause and effect relationships is best achieved by conscious analysis rather than by mediatation.

I can mediatate until the cows come home, but if you are still standing on my foot I will continue feel bad about my situation.

Save the mediatation for those situations which cannot be fixed.

“God grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change;
The courage to change what I cannot accept;
And the wisdom to recognise the difference.”

Nikkolaus September 23, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Well put.

Joshua Tilghman September 25, 2013 at 9:59 pm

Brian,

I do appreciate you taking the time to comment. Bringing this subject to light in the way you have ads a new dimension to both the post and potential conversations.

Now I must say that I disagree with your argument. Here’s why:
You stated:

“Purging yourself of an unwanted emotion is like trying to purge yourself of an empty fuel guage in your motor car. The relevant cause and effect relationships are elsewhere.”

Mind and emotions are linked. Many negative emotions are based largely off of our unconscious thoughts patterns. To become more conscious is to automatically get more control of these negative thought patterns, and ultimately, negative emotions.

You seem to be saying that negative reactions are always good. But isn’t it ultimately our thoughts and judgments that determine if a situation is bad or good. And doesn’t this lead to emotion? Can we really say that we always see the bigger picture?

Ultimately I believe you are giving the lower ego precedence over the spiritual ego. This is especially revealed in your next statement:

“My anger is nothing more than a signal that my needs are not being met. The useful details lie elsewhere.”

Your anger? Needs being met? In certain situations this could be true, but the lower ego never understands what is necessary for true development and growth of the soul. All its motives are selfish and limited to this very short life. Your anger might not really be a signal that your needs are not being met…it could be a signal that your ego is not being met.

You then stated:

“Perhaps my expectations about how hard I will need to work to have my needs met are confused. Perhaps I have miscalculated my real needs. Perhaps I have not clarified my true needs in a given area. Perhaps I need to be more assertive in getting my needs met.”

Again, in certain situations this may be true. But “perhaps” is the key word. Are you really certain of your needs in the overall development of the soul? What we often interpret as our “needs” turn out to be nothing more than our “wants.” More often than not our worst experiences are times of tremendous growth. What seem to be our greatest failures turn out to be our greatest triumphs. We could be angry over a certain circumstance in the short run only to miss out on the greater lesson if we fail to realize how futile our emotions are sometimes.

You then stated:

“Tackling these cause and effect relationships is best achieved by conscious analysis rather than by mediatation”
We have to be careful that we are not talking about a thorough evaluation by the ego. Conscious analysis can do wonders if that analysis isn’t tainted by negative emotion. But this is rarely the case with most of us. I must admit this about myself in many cases. If conscious analysis involves intuition, then yes, it can yield some amazing results.

You also stated:

“I can mediatate until the cows come home, but if you are still standing on my foot I will continue feel bad about my situation.”

Perhaps you are confusing meditation exercises with a means of escape? I never propose mediation as a means of escape. Meditation is the very means to realize the futile wants and needs of the ego. Meditation connects you with source, which then enables you to realize that the higher self is beyond both your emotions and mental outlook, whatever your current situation. Meditation can yield intuitive responses that can give you the overall picture to why you are feeling what you are feeling. Meditation, when done correctly, can be a direct link to intuition.
Ultimately, Brian, we can agree to disagree. This is also the beauty of consciousness, and it is certainly no problem with me. Just remember, if your desire is to have your immediate needs met, then I would agree that my post will mean nothing to you. But if you wish to attain to a higher perspective, perhaps meditation can help. Meditation is certainly not an immediate fix to all life’s negative emotions. Neither should it be used as a means to escape. It should be used to shed the light of consciousness itself on situations.

Many blessings!

Brian September 27, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Hi Joshua.

Thanks for your thoughts and the time taken to write them down.

We are certainly on common ground when you say that thoughts lead to emotions. And also somewhat paradoxically, a lack of conscious thinking can also determine an emotion. This I presume is in part what you mean by the unconscious and its impact upon our feelings. (The only exercise some folks get is when they jump to a conclusion.)

My fuel guage analogy was only an attempt to emphasise that we are often not angry (or more generally, emotional) for the reasons we think we are. And in my experience the best cure for a fit of the collywobbles is to sit down and think it through. And indeed the answer often lies in my misplaced expectations of how the world should be.

But I stand by my assertion that feelings are a signal not a cause. And that we are rational as well as emotional beings. And that it is more effective to deal with the cause rather than the effect. So rather than trying to meditate anger away, into some heavenly state of grace, I think it is more effective to think through what precisely am I angry about.

But of course, your concept of the unconscious is much larger than a mere set of half forgotten habitual thoughts and behaviours. You seem to be referring to a collective, divine set of energies and thoughts that exist somewhere in the ether. Perhaps what Jung called the Collective Unconscious.

This is fine by me, although of course far from empirically certain.

But my question is how active or passive should I be in relation to this divine hypothesis. (Why is everyone so certain that God exists, when there is so little direct evidence?)

Activities like praying to an interventionist God with my list of requests and suggestions for a better world seem to me to be way too passive. Especially when you compare the outcomes with the achievements of hard work and rational scientific thinking, particularly since the Enlightenment, some 300 years ago.

Where meditation sits in this active-passive continuum, I prefer to leave to the experts. Some of my friends, including several cancer survivors, swear by it. Personally, I am not a big fan; which may be due to a basic incompetence when I attempt to sit awkwardly and still my mind.

So my apologies for thinking that meditation and praying to an interventionist God can be grouped together as activities that have been a bit oversold as attractively passive cures for just about anything. However, non-empirical but fashionable concepts like “intuition good/ego bad” raise alarm bells for me.

If there is a God, then I believe its essence may be discovered a long time hence within a detailed understanding of the Universe, thanks to a diligent process that we now commonly call science. But of course, expect some surprises.

And if we want science to work for us, we must do a lot more than pray and chant to a speculative anthropomorphic God.

Once we ate the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, we embarked on a conscious journey. Now is not the time to turn our backs on the hard work of these explorations ( we have left the Garden of Eden for good.)

Beware of anyone who offers you their religious tribe and associated practices as a cure for the need to work hard and endure the uncertain mysteries of life.

At best their thoughts about the mysterious and the metaphysical are speculative, often to the point of superstition.

God has given us an enlarged forebrain, the scientific method and an evolutionary curiosity. Let’s use these gifts to continue our development.

Joshua November 22, 2013 at 8:45 am

Brian,

First of all my apologies for taking so long to respond.

I think we are on a lot more common ground than either one of us realized. I am a firm believer in science. In fact, recently I was reading an article proposing a theory on how quantum entanglement is the reason “time” exist. The article spoke to me because it suggests that one has to be a conscious observer from inside the universe in order for time to unfold, whereas an omniscient being who was outside the universe wouldn’t experience time at all. In fact, to an outside observer, the universe would appear to be nothing. I don’t think there can be an outside observer. God is within us and us in God. In other words, your skepticism about an individual supreme being that is totally separate from us is justified. I, too, have always had a problem with this. If God were truly omnipresent, as the religious often state, then wouldn’t we and anything else that is conscious already be a part of God? For me, the answer is of course. So the traditional religious concept of God for me cannot be correct. Praying and meditating to an interventionist God can help, but it isn’t a being that is separate from us that responds. It is a part of the innermost self. Yes, this is metaphysical, and right now science cannot prove it. But aren’t most of the theories involving quantum mechanics metaphysical? They are all based on abstract math equations which really don’t seem to have a place in physical reality.

I believe the future of science will eventually prove that reality is metaphysical in nature. It’s not really something the rational mind can completely understand, but perhaps we can get close.

And to answer your question, we cannot be passive and expect our problems to dissolve. That’s not what I mean to convey. As you state, emotions are not really the cause, they are signals. And yes, rational inquiry is often valuable in understanding and correcting the problem. But sometimes actively thinking and analyzing a problem only complicates the matter and leads us into more confusion. Sometimes the answer, a stroke of genius, comes to us when we quiet the rational intellect.

Einstein once stated:

“The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.”

but he also stated:

“There is no logical way to the discovery of elemental laws. There is only the way of intuition, which is helped by a feeling for the order lying behind the appearance…The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

Blessings my friend, and thanks for the thoughtful comments on this blog!

Shey October 4, 2013 at 6:45 pm

You speak like someone I never heard before but you certainly put to light some of the mysteries in the Bible. I love the teaching on meditation. I am a Christian and don’t agree with some thingd you are saying but I can’t deny the fact that Jesus is the light that enlightens all men and you’ve got your fair share of enlightenment. Thank you for generously sharing it for free. Blessings .

Joshua Tilghman October 5, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Shey,

I was once a traditional Christian. I completely understand and would never judge anything you disagree with. I only hope you continue to expand your knowledge base. Esoteric studies will always help you to go beneath the literal interpretation for a greater understanding.

sparks November 22, 2013 at 2:01 am

Josh & Brian,
am somewhat perplexed?
as a Spiritual Hu-man being are we not are emotions?
after all our emotions are connected to all that we are, and all that our journey offers
if not then we would be emotionless robots or machines

Look, see, our own Mother Earth is filled with and shows her emotions, endlessly

Our emotions are not the issue, it is how we “respond” to them
While at the crossroads, sit, feel the ground, contemplate and may all our decisions be Divinely inspired!
Sparks

Joshua November 22, 2013 at 8:47 am

Sparks,

As human beings, yes, emotion is a wonderful gift and part of the evolutionary process. It is the lower emotions that must be crucified and the higher emotions made manifest.

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