Our consciousness works non-stop to guide us towards pleasant experiences and to protect us from unpleasant ones. However, this wish-fulfilling vehicle often gets tired, unhappy and counterproductive – mostly, when stuck in a destructive loop of chasing its own tail. We get misguided by hidden motivations that are long obsolete or not even ours. We get carried away by habits rooted in an egocentric worldview. Fortunately, this experience also doesn’t feel right, it is agitating, discomforting and dissatisfying. So this is where we start.
Destructive emotions and states of mind are hard to miss. Especially, intense or persistent ones. They naturally and inevitably arise if there are internal causes that get triggered by an external situation or our own mind wandering.
It is not just a memory of pain that organically dictates “fight or flight”. It is the whole web of past experiences, future projections and reaction habits that fire off and increase the perceived gravity of the situation. They distort how we see other people, ourselves and the “external” situation. Unless we un-skew our perception and address the triggers, so neither biases nor undesired reactions arise. This prevents relapses for scenarios processed in the long run.
Internal causes of destructive emotions
|Destructive emotions reflect our actual, functional views that we use in meaningful real-life interactions, not what we think we are.|
Our “routine” emotions trigger and mutually amplify each other, instilling a persistent emotional background we carry on a day-to-day basis without even noticing. It usually starts small, but accumulates over time as more irritators come in. Unless, obviously, emotional hygiene is in place and emotions that comprise the background are located and addressed regularly.
If unattended to, destructive states of mind repeat, escalate, and eventually, make themselves very noticable. However, there are less painful routes to getting to know ourselves, e.g. looking inside early.
Neglected emotions mutually amplify each other
What’s wrong with implicit motivation?
We are normally too busy to notice and deal with less critical emotional undercurrents. We keep on working, solving, doing what has to be done despite perceptible minor agitations or moderately discomforting states of mind. The signs that may reflect implicit or hidden motivations. However, even unintentional ulterior motives taint our daily interactions, covertly polarize biases, electrify attitudes to deviations from desired scenarios, gradually causing troubles in real-life. It is like demonstrating compassion to make people like us, but without noticing it — neglecting the fact we are doing “good” things for the wrong reasons.
Logistics of implicit motivation impact
A natural wish to acquire some desired object (or do “something good”) may be weighed down by coinciding implicit motivations and reactions: clinging to “winning”, fears of not getting the object, anger towards people creating obstacles, jealousy/envy towards those having it, hating ourselves for our inability to get it. If we neglect our emotional undercurrents and satisfy our desire, “success” validates the destructive approach and solidifies these reactions. Next time our mental grip will be even stronger, and much less forgiving to deviations. Furthermore, inflating desire will require more to be satisfied. Eventually, inevitable sensory deprivation will spark an escalation of emotions.
Long-term logistics of implicit motivation impact
Awareness: noticing and discerning the signs
The good news is that even minor emotions are usually noticeable, should we care to look. We feel deviations from our normal balanced state, witness restless or non-ecological thoughts (as in “wishing ill or harm”) persistently mulling something over and over, physical sensations like tension or discomfort.
Casual reach of mindfulness/look inside:
usual stream of observations
Mindfulness practice alone is not a silver bullet
Obviously, making destructive emotion go away just by becoming aware of it works only for fleeting residual reactions that have no real internal causes supporting them. If a distressing emotion does not go away or even increases during introspection a wider spectrum of instruments, not singled out practice may be required to handle it.
Reach of self-awareness
The reach of mindfulness is limited by our currently active emotions. Hence, it is a continuous process of tackling greater agitations to be able discern lesser ones.
The habit of self-checks and addressing agitations comes naturally as we learn about the consequences of neglecting destructive emotions, and find a personal roadmap to tackle them successfully.
|Even seemingly “good” deeds may lead to undesired outcomes if the implicit motivation behind them is unchecked and the ensuing tensions are ignored. State-of-mind checks and emotional education can help prevent this.|