Awareness of Emotion

I started to read a new book today. The second page in, there was a quote.

“The past is beautiful because one never realizes an emotion at the time. It expands later, & thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.” -Virginia Woolf

It made me think back to great times in my life where I was genuinely happy (I found it ironic that it didn’t immediately make me think of things that currently make me happy). I think it’s easy in a moment of positive feelings to take that feeling for granted. You don’t think about that feeling until you are aware of its absence. In that sense of the quote, I agree.

Though, where I do have to disagree with this quote is where it speaks of emotion generically. I think that people have an immediate awareness of the emotion they feel when experienced negatively or in an extreme.

In the saddest or most painful moments of my life, the emotion was overwhelming. It was the only thing I could feel, and the only thing I was immediately aware of. But now that this specific moment of grief has fleeted and is long-gone, I don’t have the exact same awareness of the emotion. I simply have a better understanding of the situation that comes with time.

Or take anger for example. Your alarm didn’t wake you up and now you have to rush to be on time to work, you misplaced your car keys, then a guy cut you off on your drive.  Naturally, you’re angry. You’re aware of that anger. And you’re completely aware of why you feel that anger.

However, I do believe that it is important to recognize that everyone experiences and expresses emotion differently.

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