October 12

The Effects of Voices from Our Past

October 12, 2016

Stress Management

Sara spoke to me on Skype and said, “I’m so anxious. When I was with you, I felt so loved, but I just lost it. When I wake up, the fear just comes over me. It overwhelms me. Then I feel depressed.”

“Whoa,” I said.

She looked surprised. “You told me that I could share all my thoughts and fears with you.”

“Yes, I did, and I meant it. I’m not stopping you from talking. I am suggesting you pause long enough to consider where this conversation is going. You’re saying that you’re a victim to your feelings. Like they control you. You just ‘lost’ the feeling of love and fear just ‘came over you.’”

“Yes, that’s what happened.”

“Not really, no. Feelings follow our thoughts. Fear, for example, follows our thoughts—or beliefs or judgments—that something is about to hurt us.” [Event ➝ Judgment ➝ Feeling ➝ Reaction]

“But I wasn’t having any thoughts before I got afraid this morning. I just woke up that way.”

“It would seem like that, yes, but you have an entire choir of voices in your head all the time—voices from the past—and you continue to hear them even in your sleep, in much the same way that your thoughts create dreams.”

Often we are mystified by the origin of our feelings, but the generation of our feelings is not so mysterious.

In the plays of ancient Greece—think Sophocles and Euripides, about A.D. 450—interactions between characters were depicted much as they are in the plays of today. In addition, however, the Greek plays often featured what was called a chorus, a group of performers who made comments and judgments about the dramatic action on stage.

As we interact with people in the present—or even when we’re alone or asleep—unseen characters are playing their parts. We have our own tragic Greek chorus—mother, father, friends, teachers from the past, and more—endlessly speaking in the background. Our every interaction is affected by this chorus, and until we understand that, we’ll never comprehend the nature of our feelings and behavior.

PCSD

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