How do we strip the alienating emotions of their power without becoming insensitive to the world, without draining life of its richness? If we merely consign them to the depths of the unconscious they will reemerge with renewed force at the first opportunity, continuing to strengthen the tendencies that perpetuate inner conflict. The ideal, contrarily is to allow that perpetuate inner conflict. The ideal, contrarily, is to allow negative emotions to form and dissipate without leaving any trace in the mind. Thought and emotions will continue to surface, but they will not proliferate and will lose their power to enslave us.
One might argue that the conflictive emotions – anger, jealousy, greed – are acceptable because they are natural, and that there is no need to interfere with them. But disease is a natural phenomenon too. We do not resign ourselves to it or welcome it as a desirable ingredient of life. It is just a legitimate to act against afflictive emotions as it is to treat disease. Are these negative emotions really diseases? At first glance the parallel may seem excessive, but a closer look reveals that it is far from baseless, since most inner confusion and suffering arise from an array of disturbing emotions that weaken our “mental immune system”. Conversely, lasting well being arises from cultivating positive emotions and wisdom.
Why cant we simply allow the negative emotions to wear themselves down? Experiences shows that, like an infection that goes untreated the disturbing emotions gain in strength when allowed to take their course. Unleashing anger whenever it arises for instance, tends to create a state of psychological instability that only increases irascibility. The results of various psychological studies contradict the notion that giving free rein to the emotions temporarily relieves bottled up tensions. By systematically allowing our negative emotions to express themselves we develop habits to which we are vulnerable every time the emotional charge reaches the critical threshold, In addition, the threshold will gradually become low and anger will erupt ever more easily. The result will be what is commonly called a bad temper accompanied by chronic summering. From the physiological point of view arterial tension diminishes if we prevent anger from openly expressing itself, but it increases when we fly into rage.