Feedback Loops

“It is not events that disturb people, it is their judgments concerning them.”
Epictetus

My monkey mind is the source of my emotions, both positive and negative. It interprets what happens in my life through the lens of what is good for me or what is harmful, as well as casts judgments about others and the impact of events on them.

I am cut off in traffic, make a mistake, or had someone disagree with me. My monkey mind sees these all as slights that raise the emotion of anger, fear, or annoyance. What I do next, in my rational mind, is what determines whether I will spend the next hours, days, or years being unhappy or not.

If I start a dialog with myself regarding these incidents (thinking about how the mistake was not mine, the other driver is incompetent, or how the person who disagrees is an idiot), I am rationalizing. And in rationalizing I feed the original emotion.

As that emotion is fed and gains in strength, so does my rationalization of it. I have created a feedback loop in my mind which consumes my mental resources. Along with this, as I am consumed by these negative emotions, I am largely incapable of feeling positive emotions nor appreciating what is happening around me in the world.

I exist in the now. What is behind me is encased in glass, what is ahead is a fog. All I can control is what I think and how I act or react in the moment.

To allow my emotions to trigger a feedback loop is to cede control of my life. And it is my decision to allow it. Just because I feel a negative emotion is not an excuse to feed it. Regardless of the trigger, I must remember what I control, and not cede control of the one thing that I have control over. If it is outside of me, I don’t control it, at best I can only influence it. If it was my decision or action, then I cannot change the past, I can only learn from my mistake and strive to do better next time.

By not feeding the monkey, I will find that the event and the emotion it caused will rapidly dissipate so that in a short time I no longer remember either.

Food for thought…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s