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Posted in Human Condition |

Afflictive Emotions

  • are feelings rooted in the false self
  • arise when something we want does not occur
  • arise when something happens that we don’t want
  • can cause withdrawal from life (apathy) or attempts to dominate others
  • may be accompanied by commentaries that our imagination or memory habitually impose that intensify the emotion

  • BP: 97-100
  • FG: 73-77
  • AW: 54-57
  • TS: 14
  • HC: 15, 25, 30
  • IL: 8, 19-25
  • MC: 36-38
  • IG: 111

Afflictive emotions like grief, anger, jealousy, envy, vanity, pride, lust, greed, discouragement, and shame are rooted in the fact that we don’t know our real motivation. The thrust of Jesus’ initial teaching in the Gospel is the challenge to grow up! Our drive to obtain the symbols in an environment of security and survival, affection and esteem, and power and control is doomed to frustration.

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Afflictive emotions arise when something happens to us that we do not want, or when something we want does not occur. Life can become an endless cycle of desire, frustration, and afflictive emotions. This cycle makes some people so miserable that they choose a way to end their pain, such as total withdrawal or an aggressive program of trying to dominate others.

We can respond to Jesus’ invitation to “grow up” by becoming aware of our dominating needs for security and survival, affection and esteem, and power and control. The Spirit says: /”You will never find happiness in any of your instinctual needs. They are only created things, and created things are designed to be stepping stones to God, not substitutes for God”.

Imagination may reinforce and intensify afflictive emotions by imposing commentaries that arise of themselves.

If we learn to let go of the afflictive emotions as promptly as they arise, we can enjoy a more durable peace of mind. Afflictive emotions disappear as the values of the Gospel are firmly established and interiorized. 


 Reflection: Listening

Afflictive emotions are rooted in the false self. Afflictive emotions can cause apathy and withdrawal. Afflictive emotions may spur attempts to dominate others. 

Reflection: Reflecting

How might you recognize early onset of an afflictive emotion? How do you respond when an afflictive emotion arises? What happens when you feel anger, envy or vanity? What seems to cause the emotion?

Reflection: Responding

Be aware of how afflictive emotions work. When an emotion arises, welcome it, fully accept it, and let it go.