Early in my sobriety, a wise woman taught me “I over E”. Intellect over Emotion.
Most people seem to live quite differently from this. Perhaps being able to apply this formula is a step toward emotional maturity…I don’t know.
What I do know is that when I’m confronted with a situation in which I have a knee-jerk reaction, an emotional response, it usually turns out better if I don’t.
Maybe that’s what separates the average mammal from higher-functioning humans. (Notice I didn’t say Humans, in general.) Animals who are considered to have higher intellect, ie trainable, are those with some measure of the ability to override their instinctual/emotional reactions. Instead of biting the person that seems to be a threat, Fido reasons that since Owner said “No”, that he will respond accordingly. Or when my cat is afraid, and wants to run away and hide, he remembers that I am a safe person and instead he stays put.
When I was active in my addiction, I rationalised and justified acting on my feelings every time. I felt X, so of course I did Y. There was never any thought between X and Y. Just feeling + action.
In the end, because I was so unable to successfully handle my feelings, no matter what X was, Y always equalled a drink or a drug.
Recently, I had an experience that effectively sliced my heart open with the skill of a top-rated surgeon. I never saw it coming. My emotions were laid out, raw. They flowed out of me like a flooded river. I’m human, after all. Feeling things is a part of that.
Then after a time, I came to a lull in the rapid flowing pain, and I was able to lift up my head and gasp a breath of air. With that moment of clarity, I became aware that I had options.
I could choose to let the waters keep throwing me further downstream, hitting the rocks on the bottom and feeling the burn of lungs aching for air,
I could reach up, the next time I surfaced, and grasp for…anything with which I might be able to pull myself ashore.
After so much time in the current, being beaten and tossed about, I really am exhausted. It’s hard to think. So, in planning my course from here, I decide to rest a bit. My body certainly needs time to heal from to plethora of cuts and bruises.
This is where I over E comes in.
Left to my feelings, I am in a never-ending fight. I circle a sewage drain of anger, regret, fear, and more. I am a slave to emotion when I’m tired and weak. My mind tells me that this is going to end in the destruction of my life and any relationship that I care about, unless I (daily) take the control from my emotions and hand it back to my intellect.
If animals can control their instincts, their emotions, and choose to lead with what they KNOW, then I can, too. We can, too.
Just because someone or something pushes my button, our buttons, does NOT mean we have to react. We can pause. Pray. Breathe. And choose to RESPOND.
I over E.
A great thing to stick on a note and post beside your mirror. It works for me.