Words merely translate our intentions, and as precise as they are, they only are our best effort to guess.
Trying to capture the essence of an emotion through a word is as reducing as futile; it seems to me that it somehow denies this self-expression as a whole, as well as our existence through these emotions, that are the right for ourselves to feel, without trying to label the experience. Sometimes, when I start to express myself about how I feel, I use the first, perhaps the second, or even the third word I have in my cultural dictionary, in order to qualify and shape what’s inside, but I only find myself reducing, and grasping something that is perhaps deeper, less intelligible. Words are nets we cast in the ocean of our emotions and thoughts, in the hope that we could come up with something tangible, something to apply a description on, for us to say “I can name my feelings, and this is what they are; this is what they look like”. But often, this proves to be a loose angle, not only because we end up imposing a meaning on our emotions, but also because we reduce their very own existence through this enterprise of applying a descriptive pressure on.
If our emotions and feeling are butterflies, our words become this frame that captures the essence of what constitutes these very same emotions. Everything seems to begins with doubt, against our own narrative, and against this manifestation of something that escapes our control, something that defies anthropocentrism, and this quest appears to be frozen, because it signifies the negation through filling with words our buried possibilities.
And what happens when, due to a lack of proper description, and adequate definition, we acknowledge these feelings, let them breathe, and run their course? We find ourselves afraid and unable to really embrace something as bizarre as peculiar. Emotions are often foreign bodies to ourselves, and it seems to me that we need to find a balancing understanding, that would adequately mitigate our precipitated attempts to nurture this self-denial, while facing the expression of who are, that includes the righteousness of our beings. When we reduce our emotions, we don’t really see them for what they are, and it’s almost as if we would be burying them alive, and what will eventually resurface, is the non-integrated expression of something less expressed. The idea that it is possible for us to seize a potent mean through its description is something that consumes and destroys us, and this is when we prevent them for existing out that this is backward. Defining is a repressive force that is toxic, and the poison shall only be relieved thanks to the respect of this expressing vehicle; without introducing the anthropomorphic idea of an emotion existing in view of an extrinsic end.
Why do we have this strong urge to put words on how we feel? To me, it’s almost because I lack the proper tools to understand myself, out of this analytical framework. I don’t have a satisfying approach to seize the existence of something that exists, without any reference to a descriptive language; and the only conclusion I can reach out of these attempts, is that they barely come tangential to the expressed feeling. It is interesting to notice that we can only apply a descriptive language to define ourselves, while accepting that we throw away much more, because we don’t pay attention, but also because we instinctively apply our descriptive tools, without asking ourselves the question if it is the right thing to do in the first place.
At the center of this approach exists what I call “the fear of non-existence”, as we exist through our own description and the ever-same bouncing ideological projections, we can only see ourselves through something we can comprehend, and without this feedback-loop, we are unable to cope with our inner self.
Emotions have also this quite ability to be self-referential, and depicting them through language biases, changes and perturbs them forever. It imposes a meaning, that could be quite different from the nature of an emotion, that is the one we want to see: it’s an obvious attempt for us to integrate them in the vicissitudes of our own circumstances. But in the end, it is always the same conclusion: we reinforce a sense of existence through the articulated approach of something we know exists, without the same tools we use to think and analyze. It is also a fear of non-existence, because this is when we don’t label them that we become empty, a watcher, and all around, nothing we can identify ourselves with, nothing to which we are clinging. Being unable to relate to our feelings in a intelligible, that is to say, tangible for the mind, leads us to become empty, contemplating with the same intensity both words and emotions. What remains is this single point of witnessing. There is, in any case, a paucity in our language of qualities, and properties, to apply a metaphorical description, that would adequately acknowledge an emotional state. Rather than trying to apply an explanation, it would be worth trying to witness without judging; and it seems to me that judging is a shortcut we often take, without necessarily noticing. Judging starts when we feel something, and we start to form an opinion about this feeling, the judgment is then carried across when we start to map it to something else, to draw lines, and try to come to a satisfying conclusion.
Nothing is more important for the structures of our ego to maintain themselves, and it might be possible that feelings don’t fit into these structures; for example, why does passion guide us, more than we want to accept, while we often find ourselves being unsatisfied with the potential outcomes?
And the project of knowing ourselves doesn’t mean that much trying to restrict ourselves, or trying to control the direction, rather it means understanding the multiple aspects that constitute who we are. When words are used to repress and suppress the full existence of our emotions, we simply reduce our expression as human beings, while the analysis becomes the center of the life experience. I don’t necessarily say it’s a bad thing, but I am convinced that it’s a filter that reduces the comprehension of our predicament, and it simply offers a false vision of the dynamics, that have much more to show, and much more to say. Words constitute only one interface, and as evolved as it is, it nevertheless doesn’t cancel that much the other dormant ways we could use to have a better, more integrated, experience.
Our Western culture doesn’t have a good methodology to approach ourselves as beings, without words, and it’s almost as if we exist through language, this is why describing emotions and feelings is a natural, or should I say cultural, thing to do. While deriving knowledge from reason has made possible a vast accumulation of understanding related to reality or nature, there is an obvious caveat, because this approach tends to reduce much of our expression. In fact, the language we use could have come out of a striving , and a deep desire to transcend our longing for wholeness, against isolation, and create a connection with ourselves, a potential way to use a system of description and symbols to communicate all the intangible and abstract feelings we experience. But mapping is an interference, because, so much of our emotional state cannot be expressed, and so much of our feelings are unspeakable.
This transient bridge we created for ourselves, between who we are, and what we are, is also used to convey what we feel to the other; because we tell ourselves that if there’s a mutual agreement, a shared understanding of the inner passions, it would then be possible for us to create a stronger sense of connection. It seems that our syntaxes say a lot about what we strive for, such as, our inner desire to become self-understood; it’s this rough idea that, if words suffice to explain the world, they would also just be perfect to explain what’s inside, the stuff that burns, that makes me feel good, or sometimes that hurts.
What drives this feeling of understanding seems to be a wish for contact – a relationship to the other as important and as fulfilling as a relationship to ourselves; this attempt to live through this unified relationship could satisfy our yearning, this eternal impression of being casted into matter, alone in the Universe.
When we experience these feelings as they are, this is this precise moment when we sense that we are more than what we conceive of ourselves, but these are scarce moments, and they only appear when we are able to tame and silence this voice that knows everything about everything. Some might call it “bliss”, or “pure consciousness”, but I would call it “plain existence”, as this expression seems to encompass all the existing phenomenons without the particular detachment from one side in favor of one another. Plain existence allows room for an integrated experience, and lessens the thick layer between what the word is, and how I think it is, yet at the same time, turns this transient bridge into an everlasting connection that transcends the words we have for it.
Shifting our perspective about how we interpret who we are, and what are all the constituents, would allow us to behold these feelings, and more importantly, would give them their full right. It is possible to feel a sense of existence without the projected false notion of identity, in other words, the structures the ego erects only serve its own existence, while there so much more that can be unfolded. A whole spectrum is there for us to live and experience; these emotions are also our deepest secret, the unravelled message that leaves us naked, this deep sense of opening and merging that is the self-aware being.
Acknowledging our emotions would allow us to become an alchemical mirror, the fusing into dyads. This alchemical fusion called the coniunctio. As a result, separation would no longer be. It would also allow the conjuring of what keeps going back and forth in the flesh and in the mind: our eternal misunderstanding, and the torrent of assumptions. Being aware of our emotions neutralizes them, and transforms this interpretative landscape into a space into which they can be.
Self-awareness is a mechanism to become fully conscious of our own unconsciousness, and acceptance does not mean resignation, rather it’s the process by which the this inner torment nurtures and supports our emotional intelligence. Our whole existence is then transformed into a friendly figure, a loving and caring archetype, because our own standpoint will no longer be the projection onto reality.
Understanding without interpreting also means channeling without reducing, and turning the poison into nectar: being able to reflect on ourselves and strengthen our own understanding without the missed attempt of a loose interpretation. Existing without a descriptive attempt, and respecting how we feel could create a more genuine connection to ourselves, and to the other, because that would allow a more honest empathy, a more honest look into the nature of our own existence, a more open dialogue, and the perfection of our interactions. The other will remain stranger to ourselves as long as the confines of ours emotions remain expressed through the channel of the word, and as long as we only want to accept our feelings when they are interpreted and assumed. More importantly, this is by respecting these feelings that they become the absence of extrinsic constraints and amounts to self-constitution. The question we will be left with would be: is there such notion for our emotional existence? But the answer becomes much more than lack of words, because we simply become free, but I think this is a tautology…
Words are but symbols for the relations of things to one another and to us; nowhere do they touch upon absolute truth.
~ Friedrich Nietzsche