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Anguish and the Self-Transforming Mind

On my morning walks with our dog “Fritz” I am currently listening to Brené Brown’s “Atlas of the Heart”. I am in awe of Brown’s way to name and distinguish among emotions and feel like I am learning a new language. Brown’s description and definition of “anguish” is especially memorable for me: “an almost unbearable and traumatic swirl of shock, incredulity, grief and powerlessness” that can make us “crumble into ourselves” and “bring us to our knees.” I remembered the feeling of my blood turning into lead pressing down my veins and literally keeling over from an overwhelming cocktail of emotions when I found our first dog Jessica dead on the kitchen floor only hours after we had strolled through a forest together.

As my thoughts wandered to the paper I am writing for our MSLOC 420 class and my fascination with our journey to become self-transforming minds, I started to wonder how strong emotions like anguish relate to this journey. Anguish must be one of the most subjective experiences one can have. Once it “hits”, there is no way a person can objectify this experience and herself in the experience. Even remembering a moment of anguish will always stay very subjective and hit us at the core. Can anyone be so far transcended to a self-transforming mind that she can see herself looking at the emotion of anguish from the outside and moving this emotion from subject to object? Will we as human beings not always be subject to and driven by volatile emotions such as anguish, grief, fear or dread? Even once the moment has passed and we are digesting our experiences that caused such strong emotions, won’t there always be a part of us that will relive that moment when we were hit by that wave of volatile emotions?

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Ah, emotion. What a wonderful and messy subject, especially in the context of the workplace and productivity! Thank you for sharing your own experience of anguish and trauma. I agree with you that such strong emotions as the one you described remain a part of us forever, no matter how we try to “process” them. I’ve often struggled with what I considered “negative” emotions and then realized that much of this stems from me pushing away certain painful ones like shame and anguish, with the unconscious assumption that they are bad or a sign of something being “broken” in me or the world. I don’t think that anyone can “transcend” our emotions, as that would not be what I consider…

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