Hi Kelli! Do you have any tips on how to identify less with all the thoughts that make me crazy and simply ‘be’ more, simply exist with what is happening each moment, with out judgment? Thank you for your time and all your insight!
Regardless of the circumstance, if we were to drill down to the core issue at the root of our emotional upset, it would essentially be that we are resistant in some way to what is happening at the moment. We have some sort of problem with ‘what is.’ We wish something else was happening instead, we wish the situation had gone another way, we have an unmet expectation. X shouldn’t have happened and Y should have happened instead.
So if the bedrock foundation of all our emotional upset is resistance to ‘what is’ in the moment, any perspective that helps us make peace with ‘what is,’ that helps us view these situations less negatively, will be immensely helpful for achieving greater peace of mind and emotional wellness. This, by the way, is the only thing we truly want in this world. This is the only manifestation worth a damn.
The Thing About Making Peace with ‘What Is’
The thing to remember though about making peace with ‘what is’ is that ‘what is’ isn’t the actual problem. It’s our story about it. Many a spiritual teaching would tell us the collection of experiences that make up our human existence are all neutral on the face.
There is no inherent meaning to any of them. There are no ‘good’ and ‘bad’ experiences. How we respond emotionally to a circumstance is a result of our human/ego mind’s judgment about it, and it loves nothing more than to judge.
And said’ judgment’ is stemming from a very dysfunctional thought system steeped in a toxic brew of fear, self-hatred, guilt, shame, victimhood and the like. Its poisonous point of view creates immense suffering. The good news is, we don’t have to be held hostage to it so long as we are willing to question its validity.
So when making peace with ‘what is’ you aren’t being asked to simply accept a ‘bad’ situation–that naturally creates a huge amount of resistance, and the ego mind tends to double down on the perspective that justifies the bad feelings.
You are being asked to consider your thoughts around the circumstance and recognize the true source of your emotional suffering—the ego/human mind’s narrative around it.
The only thing ever hurting us in our thoughts whether they are about some issue–past or present–in our personal lives, a political issue, a social issue.
The Only Reason Our Thoughts are a Problem
The only reason our ‘problematic’ thoughts are such is because of how they make us feel. If a thought didn’t produce a bad-feeling response, it wouldn’t bother us. And the only reason a thought would make us feel badly is if we believed it to be true.
Our mind has done a bang up job of convincing us anything it thinks must be true, any conclusion it is drawing is accurate; any meaning it is assigning to a circumstance is the only valid interpretation, any story it is weaving is unquestionably the only way to look at the situation. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Once you start seriously questioning this dysfunctional thought system, and rejecting it, you won’t think these thoughts as much. And even when you do, they won’t be as bothersome because they won’t hurt in the same way.
They feel less heavy, less intrusive, they seem further off in the background of your mind rather than right at the forefront. They have a ‘quieter’ quality that makes them easier to ignore. You become more comfortable with these mere words running through your mind, you are able to co-exist more peacefully.
The thing about being willing to change the meaning, the conclusion, the story, is you must have a sense of what that story is, that conclusion is, that meaning you are assigning to the circumstance. You have to go within your mind and see what all the fuss is about.
If our thoughts are the only thing hurting us, we have to look at what those thoughts are. If you are feeling bothered by something, what is your mind saying about this situation?
You feel angry with someone about something they said or did? Why?
You went into an emotional tailspin when someone you connected with on a dating app–who is basically a complete stranger– disappeared after a couple of days chatting. Why?
Being around certain people makes you feel really badly about yourself and like you aren’t good enough. Why?
You feel really jealous of your co-worker. Why?
You loathe being single and obsessively worry about finding a relationship. Why?
You still feel very angry about something someone did a really long time ago and can’t forgive them. Why?
The Only Thing Required of You
Like I have said many times before, the crux of personal growth, the spiritual journey, or whatever you call this ‘process,’ is nothing more than conscious choice. Our thoughts are our only problem. And our thoughts are a choice, our beliefs are a choice, our perception of ourselves, and what we observe in the world around us, is a choice.
There are two different thought systems from which we are able to choose–I have referred to them as ‘ego thought system’ and ‘spirit thought system.’ Feel free to use whatever terminology resonates with you.
For most of us, ‘ego thought system’ has been running the show, and its way of thinking is deeply entrenched. And anyone who has even spent a minimal amount of time observing it, can see it is a very negative one that causes a lot of pain. It has all sorts of feel-bad responses to the happenings around us locked, loaded and ready to go the moment there is an opening for them.
But those of us on the ‘journey’ have now been exposed to another point of view that challenges each and every one of those painful beliefs, that offers a completely different interpretation of our life experiences, of the happenings of the world.
So again, we are tasked with choosing whether to keep abiding by the same thought system we have our whole life, or opting for this new one we now know exists.
The beauty of this whole thing is no one can take that power of choice away from us, no one can force us to choose the painful thought system against our will.
The second a person commits to that choice in a genuine way they have already succeeded.
The thing is though, this choice is not some one and done deal. It is a choice we must commit to over and over again as we have deep conditioning to overcome.
We will constantly see and experience things that challenge this point of view, and pull us back to the ego mind’s interpretation. But every time we choose in favor of ‘spirit’ we build a momentum.
And as this momentum builds, this thought system starts to feel more natural and more like your own, rather than a set of ideas you are merely intellectually appreciating and analyzing.
For every ‘ego thought’ about a circumstance, there will be a ‘spirit thought system’ counterpoint. And we make a choice– do I believe what’ ego’ has to say about this or what ‘spirit’ would say?
I’m a big fan of ‘questions’ when it comes to this emotional/spiritual work. Questions help us see what is really in our mind, they help us reinforce the teachings that will benefit us. And one of my favorite questions to ask when I am feeling challenged by a circumstance, when I am feeling a lot of resistance to it, is ‘What would spirit say about this?’
Spirit sees things as they really are. Spirit sees us as we really are. Spirit will guide us to the solutions, to the right actions, to the insights we need. Spirit will gladly point out how the circumstance is serving us and how we can use it for positive change and growth.
Spirit will tell us nothing is at it appears to be, and the how ‘ego’ always has everything backwards and upside down.
Spirit will remind us all the ‘unwanted’ we see in our little corner of the world is nothing more than our screwy unconscious acting itself out in the state of our relationships, our finances, our health and every other aspect of our being.
But in order to sincerely choose in favor of ‘spirit thought system’ there is a core choice that must be made. And this choice is to believe what many spiritual teachings have told us–our feelings are a guidance system to evaluate what is true and untrue in this world.
The intuitive resonance, that good feelings we feel, with the ‘spirit thought system’ type thoughts means they are true. The heaviness and aversion we feel to the ‘ego’ thoughts means they are not true. To move forward in any real way, to make any real lasting change in our belief system, and emotional state, we must accept this as a valid means of ‘evaluation.’
Gotta Feel the Feelings
If our circumstances are not really the cause of our negative feelings, then that means the feelings we are experiencing were already inside of us somewhere. The argument, the nasty email, the rude service person, getting fired from your job or your boyfriend breaking up with you ,merely pushed some button, it dredged up something that already existed.
If we are willing to deal with our feelings and not suppress them, then those buttons won’t be there to be pushed, there will be nothing there to be ‘dredged up’ when something happens that would be a ‘match’ to those feelings.
This might not be a literal complete disappearance of the feelings in every instance–most of us are not totally enlightened beings who have mastered our minds fully–but we can make some pretty decent headway.
While the statement that most of us will retain our ‘normal humanness’ to some degree sounds obvious, it is something we easily forget while traveling the path. Our extreme resistance to our negative feelings is magnitudes more responsible for our suffering than the feelings themselves.
Because we are driven strongly by ‘pain-minimization’ there is a part of us hoping we will be able to rid ourselves of these feelings completely, and a lot of our suffering comes from our seeming inability to accomplish this goal. We feel like a ‘failure’ every time ‘ego thought system’ guides our reactions, behaviors and choices.
With that being said, it is totally possible to become completely unbothered by certain experiences, or interactions with people, that previously would have produced significant emotional disturbance. But don’t despair if that doesn’t seem to be your experience, at least as of yet.
We are never upset for the reason we believe. I can’t tell you how many times my husband’s loving probing of what was in my mind when I was acting emotionally ‘squirrelly’ uncovered some sort of upset that was completely unrelated to the external circumstance that human/ego me was blaming. I can’t tell you how many times I uncovered that even a minor annoyance at something seemingly mundane, was actually a manifestation of a more intense feeling of anger, grief or sadness that was leaking out.
You may uncover your anger towards your husband is all about your father. Your resentment towards your kids is all about your unresolved grief from your mom dying. Your annoyance with your co-worker is a projection of your feelings about your sibling, who is very similar to them in many ways.
Our feelings are never about what our human mind thinks it is about. Whenever we are perceiving a feeling to be caused by something happening in that immediate moment, by some problem we are facing now in our life currently, we are mistaken. The feeling was already there and something in the external world just flushed it up.
General Vibe Management
If terms like ‘energy’ and ‘vibration’ are just fancy words for feelings, tending to our emotional health in a more general way (and not specifically just to ‘manifest’ stuff) is very valuable in making more consistent, genuine shifts in our overall emotional state, in how we generally feel on a day to day basis.
When we build a stronger emotional ‘foundation’ we feel more equipped to deal with the various situations in our life the ego mind will inevitably label a ‘problem’ to be resisted, judged and upset about.
We will find things that would destroy us emotionally for days may only bother us for a few hours. Even in moments where we are feeling very intense emotion, it doesn’t suck us in completely, and there is a part of us that feels ‘separate’ from all that.
When we are more in tune with what is happening inside, we see the fleeting nature of our thoughts and the feelings they produce. With this greater awareness that our feelings come and go, we won’t get so caught up in them when they strike, we will feel less resistance in the moments we are experiencing anger, frustration, impatience, fear, anxiety and all that other fun stuff.
So what changes can you make in your daily life that would support your emotional well-being? What are the things you keep telling yourself you want to start doing but have yet to? Going to bed earlier? Exercising more? Spending more time with friends and family? Taking that yoga class? Making more time for yourself? Cooking healthier meals instead of getting take out every night after work?
What are the energetic ‘saboteurs’ that are likely undermining all your efforts at ‘personal growth and betterment?’ Too much time on social media? Reading the news every day? Overextending yourself with all sorts of commitments because you have a hard time saying ‘no’ to people?
Ultimately, what we are trying to accomplish with all our ‘effort’ in this realm of spiritual and personal growth is building an energetic/emotional momentum in the direction of ‘spirit thought system’ thoughts and the lovely feelings that accompany those points of view.
Taking a good hard look at how we are spending our time day to day, where we direct our attention, is a key part of this process. The biggest change really comes from the accumulation of a series of seemingly small choices, changes in habit and behaviors.
We may not shift gears completely overnight, we may have some stops and starts, but if we are serious about making the effort, we can begin building that momentum genuinely and sincerely at any moment we commit to doing so.
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