What some would call a peculiar, slightly nostalgic event wound me up at a picnic table outside of my local park with a duo I hadn’t really spoken with since I was a little girl. Now I can’t say for certain that my recalling of this event would help anyone. I suppose my original purpose for posting it was merely to a spread a message – their message – which seemed to have given me a much different perspective on my adult life and the way in which I deal with it. So perhaps it could help enlighten someone else, and I like to hope that’s a purpose of mine.
Throughout my twenty-some, short, odd years on this Earth, I’ve had the pleasure and displeasure of interacting with several of my own Emotions on a very intimate level. I feel as though human beings have an odd sense of detaching themselves from such Emotions, sometimes in turn embracing a destructive path instead of one of inner peace and growth.
As far as the Twins in relation to this story go, they provide a much more detailed and uplifting perspective than most of the others, perhaps even a bit of amusement. They also both have the desire to teach, whereas some of my other counterparts would rather bask in my own reactions. I tell you this now because I know that this particular story (one of many that are still untold) will come across chipper and airy. But as you all know, human beings are made up of so much more than just a basic yin and yang. There are several, much smaller components to our emotional spectrum that gather up to create these halves of us. And I cannot guarantee you that all of them will come across as uplifting as the Twins.
With that being said, let us continue.
‘You cannot learn to control your emotions until you first learn to control yourself.’
“I’m shocked by this.” I couldn’t help but be honest, taking them both in as if they’d disappear in a split moment. “You two don’t seem to come around very often anymore.”
I should note that what should’ve felt tense, albeit a little awkward, seemed to actually elicit a curious excitement in my company’s reaction. Joy, as I called her, was as airy as the summer breeze. She chimed in at moments, but seemed to enjoy eyeing me from the sidelines more often than not. The way in which her eyes sparkled reminded me of a long lost mother who had just found her child. It seemed to me that she was taking in as many details as she could while also gauging my reaction to her brother’s lessons.
Whereas Gratitude, the brother in question, seemed to be a little more calculated. Perhaps he was even thankful for the chance the speak with me. He had always been a difficult character to read. He, in his light gray suit and baby blue tie, seemed to always be on a mission and I’d continuously gotten the impression that he had every intention to see it through to the very end. Gratitude didn’t run from any challenge, he was bold and well-mannered, no matter how much patience it took on his part.
Though my past had always been riddled with questionable interactions with the negative side of my emotional spectrum, these two always seemed to still emulate a shining beacon of hope. Even if I was a little weary of them, I couldn’t help but feel safe and whole in their presence. You didn’t really stop to wonder if they could exist or not, because they were so warm, so close to your heart, that you couldn’t comprehend you’d have one otherwise. The twins were majestic, beautiful creatures, and always seemed to enjoy guiding… but it was keeping them around that always seemed to be my problem.
“It makes sense why you’d say that but it’s utter nonsense.” They spat back with a chuckle, a slow grin starting to pull at each of their cheeks. They spoke in dualistic harmony, as if their introduction needed to prove how effortlessly they flitted through life with one another.
“We’re always around, you just don’t always notice.”
“Well you know what they say… Happiness comes and it goes.” I fiddled with my fingers for a moment, breaking eye contact.
“They obviously don’t know us very intimately then.” This time only Joy spoke. She added her emphasis by lifting two index fingers to the dimples in her cheeks. Her eyes cast up at me playfully – she didn’t seem bothered by my negligence to her antics throughout the years. Nor did she seem to hold a grudge for it.
“And who would have the need to say that, anyways?” This time Gratitude intervened, his deep voice hushed and questioning, an eyebrow raising as he spoke. Again, he spoke a little rougher than his twin. More like a refined teacher of many subjects than a giddy luncheon partner. But his presence and general demeanor still remained as passionate and open-minded as Joy’s. Gratitude was, in short, very wise. And he typically only provided that wisdom to a listening ear.
“People who haven’t mastered the truth, I’d say.” He finished with a flick of the wrist, eyeing my reaction soon after.
Once again I was left in silence, wondering why I tried to talk sense into two completely nonsensical beings in the first place. Could they ever really understand what I had gone through when they left so many years prior? Their answer had seemed vague and unrealistic to me. It was short and shallow, like a punch to the gut. Had I come here to battle it out with them? No. Then why was I here in the first place?
“Then there must be something I’m doing wrong. Perhaps I’m not a master quite yet.” I tried to watch the venom in my tone, “But I’ve tried, I really have. So why can’t I get you guys to stick around when I need you most?”
The female gasped, dainty fingers recoiling up to her open jaw in shock. “Oh my – she thinks we’re fair weather friends.”
“That in which we are certainly not.” Her brother confirmed, still as calm as an ocean tide, “Good point to make though, sister.”
He took a moment to comb his fingers through a set of wavy strands, pushing the hair back away from his forehead. He tried to hide it, but there was the slightest sigh still evident on his lips. “We’ve been wondering that for a while too, haven’t we?”
Like a better half she chimed up in an instant. In seconds her smile had come back to life, blue eyes gleaming effortlessly in the sunlight, smile bright and white. “Yes! We cannot be fair weather friends to you, because we are you.” She said this as though it was all the explanation I ever needed. “Like our brother said, we never really leave. Sometimes you just choose to ignore us.”
Perhaps Gratitude saw my puzzled stare.
“Let me explain it a little better – we,’ the hand in motion circled between the three of us, “are one. In truth we can only be controlled by you. The same rule applies to all of your emotions. Yes, sometimes the others can become a little… much to handle. But you always end up circling back to us in the end, right? What would be the point of living if you didn’t? If you haven’t seen us in a while, you’ve got no one to blame but yourself.”
“That’s the perfect way to put it, brother! You really were always the best with words. Maybe that’s where she got it from.”
“Thanks…” He looked over to her with the slightest gleam in his eye, “And we really can’t hold the amount of power we’d like to without your help.”
“Well both of you are around right now and to be honest I’m not sure how much of that has to do with me. I’m not going to lie to you, right now I feel like shit.”
” – And without any real reason to. Besides…that’s because you’re not listening to your core convictions. Our job isn’t to always swoop in and make everything better. In a sense, that would make you powerless. We’re not here to save the day like some cheap superhero, we’re here as a state of mind. A continuous effort. One in which you’re paying mind to, right now, and that is why we’re having this conversation. You don’t realize it, but you’re consciously making the effort to speak with us right now. We can’t help it if you don’t always choose to utilize your resources.”
“But we’re still here, always.” This time Joy’s complexion remained serious, tone lowering to reflect her brother’s teachings.
“The rest of my emotions seem to be much more… influential.”
“If you want to call it that…” He raises an eyebrow at me again, “That’s only because you allow them to be. You’re scared of them. You’ve got no reason to fear us so why pay attention?”
Joy intercepts, “Yes, everyone always thinks Happiness comes from a place that it really doesn’t. Events, material items, crazy life choices that take you to the edge. All of those are really great, they’ll teach you lessons and add a little spice to your pallet. But none of that is where you’ll find us, because you’re too blind to realize we’re right with you the entire time!”
“Exactly. We can’t just show up when you’re feeling blue or having a rough week at work. Subsequently, we can’t just come in and fight of Depression when she’s bringing you down, either. You choose to hold hands with her, we can’t unlock your fingers for you. That’s not how it works.” He takes a deep breathe, as if this is the hardest thing he’s ever had to say, “You can throw your job away, run off into the sunset and try to chase us, but you’ll never find us that way, either.”
“I see… It’s because you don’t need to be found if you’re always there, right? If I don’t see you guys, it’s because I’m not looking in the right places?”
They both look to each other, “Sort of.”
“So then what’s the secret? How does one keep both of you in a perpetual mindset? How do I make sure I always see you?”
“Well that’s a hard answer to give… it changes for everyone.” His smiles falls down to an easy expression, but his brow remains focused, “For you personally, and many others I might add, it’s keeping up with your talents. Your hobbies can’t turn full-time without your consent and efforts towards them. That’s the closest you get to your soul – when you’re doing something you love. Your emotions always remain fleeting. You’re a human being and they’re meant to flux. You’ve been placed on an Earth that doesn’t always work in your same frequency and sometimes things are confusing, changing, dying, yearning – you’re bound to run into some negatives at one fork in the road or another.”
“I guess what he’s trying to say is in those moments you have to open your lenses.” She pauses to recreate circles over her eyes with her fingers, “So you can see us more clearly.”
Gratitude tries to hide a tiny chuckle with a cough, “Doing what you love to do tends to help with that. Trying to fit into the mold seems to just add fog for most people. The world will tell you to steer in one direction, the fleeting, immediate gratification direction, but you as a human being are constant, so you have to follow your own flow of emotions. That’s what your soul wants in order for you to grow so that’s what we want.”
“You always know what to say, brother! And you kind of need to keep a good line of sight on us if you’re going to trek the journey to get there. Stop expending so much energy on those other guys,” I figure by this she means the folks on my Negative spectrum (Anxiety, Depression, Anger – what I like to call the trouble trio), “They’re downers and only keep you miserable.” I figure she’s trying to make herself look exasperated when she drops her head down on the table in defeat.
“And how do I keep a line of sight on you two when the others are always coming around to bring the fog or hell – steal my lenses.”
“First off, no one can steal your lenses… that’s a metaphorical statement. Your soul doesn’t need a lens to see what’s in front of it. You’re so much more powerful than that.”
“I get that, it was a joke.”
“Oh, well it wasn’t a very funny one.” He continues, I snort, “To keep a line of sight, per se, you kind of just have to … see it through.”
By now, Joy has lifted her head from the table, blonde locks cascading down her shoulders like a halo as she sways along to her good vibrations. I wonder what it must look like to be in her head, I can’t imagine a feeling as good as that seems. “What he’s trying to say is you fog them up with your doubt and negativity. With defense mechanisms and unhealthy coping habits. The others will try to make you think that this is the way to enlightenment – misery loves company doesn’t it? Wrong. Misery loves compatible misery. And it only makes their grip on you stronger. You can’t really hold it against the other guys because they don’t know any other way but their own. You can feel bad for them, you can pity them, you can even try to help them, but that won’t make them go away.”
“So we go back to what I said before, you sort of just have to… ride it out. Let them serve their purpose, let them teach you a thing or two, but keep yourself as a distant whole, you’ve got to make the conscience efforts to dig yourself back out when they get you too far lost. You’ve got to separate yourself from them when it gets a little too sticky. You’re going to have to find the answers to your questions when they’re around, because they don’t have the answers for you. Only you do. And the more you ask them the more they’ll steer you farther down the rabbit hole.”
“Except it’s not a fun rabbit hole alongside pretty little Alice, it’s just plain old hole.” Joy remains flattened to the table, seemingly unable to handle the amount the subject weighs on her.
“I cannot possibly imagine telling my Anxiety to quiet down.”
“You don’t have to tell it to quiet down. You just have to let it be there, let it do it’s thing, it’ll come and go but you will always remain constant. You have the lenses, remember? You’re making the conscience effort to see who you’re going to pay attention to. So when your infamous trouble trio comes along, what do you do?”
“I remember this conversation with the both of you.”
“Yes, and then you clear up your line of sight and you ride it out. Don’t let them make you lose focus down there in the darkness of the hole – just find your way back out of it. And for the record, those guys are not as influential and strong as you give them credit for. Think of all of them the same way you think of us right now. You have a revolving door that all of your emotions continuously enter and exit time and time again. Anger will come through, you can’t help that. But you can control your reaction to him. He doesn’t like to stick around very long anyways. He comes with flames ablaze and then next thing you know he’s burning out, he lives for the combustion and tires easily.”
“Same goes for Anxiety and Depression. They’re fickle, fleeting creatures. And they tend to lurk in the shadow. But when we’re around – or when you actually pay mind to us – they don’t tend to have as much influence on you. Sometimes they’ll get in your head and bring their suitcase with them, but most of the time when you remain constant, they’ll just pack up and leave. It’s not a comfortable environment for them to be in when you’re thriving.”
“What matters is your reaction to them. They won’t stick around with people that aren’t continuously feeding them. They’re both the slightest bit greedy, and like that continuous leeching. If you don’t give them the reaction they’re after, seeing us begins to become more clear.”
“So wait – you’re telling me you’re both always there even when my Depression and Anxiety are around?”
“Yes. I know what you’re thinking, that we should swoop in and become the heroes. But remember, that’s you. You’re the only one that can control their, and subsequently our, power. They just don’t want you to know that.”
“I see. And if I were to maybe try to look for you when the others are around? Would they go away quicker?”
“Mmm… not always. The Negatives don’t tend to stick in places they’re unwanted but most have to make a continuous effort to dust off the shelves when they first start making these changes. Once you become aware you really do realize you’ve got a lot of work to do. Like I said, these guys will tend to hide in the corners and stay to the sections of you that are still dusty and not visited much.”
“The parts of you that you haven’t refurbished yet with your new mindset. I still think we need new furniture.” Joy seems distracted, so we let her flit off towards the songbirds again.
“It’s like having a healthy, colorful pallet. You can’t have the good without the bad and vice versa. Sometimes it will seem like they’re hanging around forever. But you just have to remind yourself that we are too. Like we said, they’re fickle creatures and if the attention isn’t always entirely focused on them, they will eventually leave. And you will move on to greater and better things.”
“The secret to happiness isn’t in people, places or things but in your ability to see the worth in those things and hang onto it in times of trouble. It has always been that simple.”
– BIATA, ‘run-ins with the emotional spectrum series‘