“When sadness comes, just sit by the side and look at it and say, “I am the watcher, I am not sadness”, and see the difference.” Osho
First of all, what’s the correct way of using quotes within a quote? Nested quotes, if you will.
More to the point: this quote describes an interesting idea. Emotions are tricky to describe and the language that we use, at least in English, is often in the first person. For example, “I am sad” or “I feel sad”. When there is a more extended description, like “this sadness is overwhelming and feels like I am being sucked down under the surface”, there is still a fundamental assumption that the person is the emotion and the emotion is an integral part of the person.
Maybe that’s not completely accurate? Or at least, maybe that’s not the only way to think about it?
If I try to describe an emotion without using this first person way then it seems to change the meaning I’m trying to get across, at least with my clumsy words. So if I try to say “I am sad” without using the first person I end up with “the sadness came into my head”. I am sure other people would say it differently.
Also, writing this reminds me of some reading I did a few years ago about the difference between emotions and feelings. I couldn’t get my head round it then and I think it would derail this idea to try and incorporate that here. But it might be relevant.
To be Captain Obvious for a second: the words change the meaning. Our conventional way of describing emotions isn’t the only way of describing them and when using another way the emotions themselves may feel different. In this quote, there is a description of separately yourself from your emotion. As someone who feels very intensely at times and perhaps over-identifies (goddamn, the NHS has paid thousands for me to use words like this …) with her emotions this sounds good to me.
There are many times I feel like I am a slave to my emotions. If I am having an episode, whether that is depressive, manic or mixed, then my emotions rule. Some separation from these emotions would be very welcome and even everyday ‘normal’ emotions can cause me trouble. However, as someone who has a lot of problems with dissociative symptoms like depersonalization then I know full well that too much separation from emotions is not helpful and just turns you into a human who despite walking around and talking isn’t really living. Not that I am saying that this idea of simply being aware of your emotions and sitting with them rather than diving in is the same thing as depersonalization because it isn’t. There needs to be balance. Maybe I’m just showing my age but balance and calm acceptance is exactly what I want.