Mad, sad, bad, glad, scared.  Each emotion contains its own lesson.  Each type of emotion (for example, mad versus sad) points to a particular kind of lesson about self for about our relationship of self to others.  Each type of emotion also points to particular kinds of action that can bring the social world back into balance.

For example, what makes you feel mad or feel hurt?  The lesson built into every instance of anger or hurt brings questions, such as: what do I believe I deserve?  What do I feel about how I should be treated by others?  In what way might I be part of the problem?

When feeling sad, these questions arise: what do I love or admire or desire — what important thing, person, relationship or opportunity have I lost?  What does my love or desire say about who I am?  What do I have that I cannot bear to lose?  What can I do to keep the loss from happening or getting worse?  If it’s too late, how can I mourn and or praise what I’ve lost?

When feeling bad — guilty or ashamed: what is expected of me?  What do I expect of myself?  What are the right ways for me to be and to act?  How do I make things right again with others?

When your are glad: what makes my world better, more complete?  What do I rejoice in?  What does this say about who I am?  How do I praise or celebrate?

When you are afraid: what is dangerous and therefore to be avoided, or approach cautiously?  How do I take care of myself?

From: Bill Plokin’s Nature and the Human Soul

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