Let’s explore now the second reason why the prime cause of our emotions cannot be found in the events of our lives.
Once an event has occurred, you will most probably admit that it never disappears. For example, if Mary loses her job, although it will be possible for her to find another one the next day, it will never be true to claim that Mary didn’t lost her job.
By way of explanation, if an event—which is unalterable and permanent, like all other events for that matter—caused us an emotion, then it would logically follow that we would feel that same emotion on a perpetual basis, until the end of our lives. Why that? Simply because an effect whose cause is still present will never disappear. Once again, you will most probably agree with me that this is not exactly what happens in reality.
For example, when Mary’s daughter behaves in an insolent way, she feels irritated for a while. Gradually, the intensity of her anger diminishes and finally disappears completely. If Mary’s anger was caused by the insolence of her daughter, how would it be possible for the intensity of her emotion to fluctuate? Considering the fact that this event will never disappear, wouldn’t Mary feel perpetually angry from the moment her daughter behaved in an insolent way?
To sum up what I have said so far: even if we have not yet identified what is the prime cause of our emotions, we can already establish the fact that the events of our lives—whether past, present, or future—will never cause us the shadow of an emotion. In other words, this is neither the insolence of Mary’s daughter that causes her anger, nor the sudden noises in the middle of the night that cause her anxiety, nor the loss of her job that causes her sadness. While the events of our lives seem to give rise to our emotions, the real cause definitely lies elsewhere… and that’s what we will discover together in Part 3 of this article.
© Chantal Beaupre 2011
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