Every day most of us go through life without being in touch with ourselves; we react more than we create, specially if something negative takes place.
We have become conditioned to believe our emotions determine our state of mind and moods; nothing could be further from the truth. Each and all emotions we have, had an origin beyond just feelings, each one started with a thought. Our emotions are the result of our way of thinking.
We go around attributing the result of our emotions to external circumstances. If something in our lives goes well we attribute our feeling of happiness to that event or person; if something which we may label as “bad” occurs we feel the opposite emotion and attribute it to the circumstance rather than our way of thinking; by doing this we give up our internal power and generate chaos within our own selves.
Many ancient teachers spoke extensively about what am writing here. They tried to teach us the secret to mastering our emotions. They tried to teach us our environment is not what creates our emotions but rather it’s an internal process; is how you think about the environment that creates the emotions. If it is an internal process, then it is something which is very much within our control to change, even when the external environment/circumstances are against us. If we can learn to change how we perceive and interpret negative events then we can learn emotional mastery.
To gain emotional mastery is something we all should strive to attain. For many of us the reason we are not living or embracing our potential is due to our erroneous thinking. If we react negatively to unpleasant events instead of seeing them as something we can learn from, then we go through life instilling in ourselves a defeated attitude and injecting road blocks in our thinking process which result in much chaos within our lives. We need to relearn to think and to do that it is important to recognize it’s not the circumstances which are keeping you stuck in your life, is the emotions, is how you feel, how you interpret and how you react to the events occurring around you.
The old paradigm of emotions producing thoughts which then produces a reaction is an obsolete one. The real paradigm is a different one; thought creates emotion which then causes a reaction. If we can learn to master our thoughts then our reactions will be very different indeed and the results that will then manifest in our lives will be more positive ones. This concept or paradigm is not a new one; I didn’t come up with it; as I’ve said before many ancient philosophers, teachers, masters, sages, gurus, tried to teach us this. Time and time they tried to teach us to understand all of these; one then would think by now these laws would be easy to implement, however they are not. It requires discipline and a deep desire to change your current circumstances. You can’t overnight erase years of bad programming, it’s a process which will take time but as you practice, as you become aware of your thoughts and how you react to them, the old paradigm will be replaced by the new one. This is not just on a psychological/cognitive level but also at a neurological level (Epigenetics).
At first the old beliefs will fight back, for example:
If you invest on a business and that business is having a hard time taking off, you start feeling stress and start having negative thoughts which leave you feeling drain, which then cause you not to invest as much energy at becoming productive; so what would the results be?… probably your business won’t take off, not due to the external circumstances rather because you created the perfect ground for negative events to start or to continue taking place. If a friend tried to point this out to you; how what is happening is the result of your own thinking; chances are you would think your friend is crazy and all which is happening is really due to bad luck or because you overestimated the competition, your potential, the nature of your business etc. (This is an overly simplified example of how the old paradigm/beliefs will fight back.)
Perhaps an easier example to process would be one base simply on human emotions, nothing externally tangible:
Imagine you are totally in love with your partner and then he or she ends up cheating on you and the whole relationship breaks up. At first you feel angry, however if you focus on that you will start feeling depressed, bitter, and will start to look at life sarcastically. If you choose to maintain those feelings, you will either lock yourself up and close yourself to anyone or you will go around blaming everyone and giving erroneous advise to your friends when it comes to relationships (that is the old belief fighting back, making you think you have no power over how you feel.)
Certainly given the circumstances you will feel angry and it would be wrong not to stay with the emotion, however staying with the emotion means to let feelings flow which then allows for the thinking process to be clearer; it is then you can choose how you will continue feeling. You can choose to focus on the bad and keep blaming the other person or you can choose to look at it from another angle and see what was your part on your relationship breaking up and taking responsibility for your part in it; doing this makes you stronger and more confident in yourself. After that you can choose to look at what the other person did wrong and what you can learn from the whole experience. When you see the whole thing as a learning experience then there is no more blame, rather a sense of renewal and adventure. You then start naturally feeling better, taking better care of yourself psychologically, physically, and enjoying the rediscovery of life. You can choose to see it as an opportunity to meet someone better suited for you and the whole experience which at first was negative becomes an opportunity.
See the difference? It all comes down to perception. That is where you want to get but it will take effort.
As I already mentioned to change your mind you will need to have discipline and desire to actually do the work. Look at your life right now and see if you are happy with all aspects of it, if you are not, if your thinking is very negative then your life needs to become your reason for changing your thinking; your own happiness should be your reason. I heard someone say “If you have a good reason why you want to do something, you do whatever it takes to make it happen, but if your reason isn’t good enough your excuses will be”.
In order to get there one needs to learn to let go of the idea of blaming your past. It’s important we learn to treat ourselves with the utmost respect and gentleness. Is important to stop blaming our past.
Most of us go through life with the following sentence in our heads “The reason I am not the person I thought I would be is because of my past” or “The reason I don’t do this is because of my past and its challenges”, “The reason I am acting/behaving badly is because of my past”...see how negative that is?.
I know it isn’t easy, specially if you are young. The younger we are the more we tend to blame others for everything we can not do, this happens because we lack the maturity to see the whole picture. We lack the motivation, we lack the knowledge; life has not hit us hard enough or we have people who enable our erroneous mentality. Reality is there is a difference between feeling compassion for someone and enabling someone. At the end of the day life is hard for everyone and it should not be an excuse to stop becoming the best version of yourself; there is a wise saying “no one will hit harder than life” this is true but we need to learn to get up and keep going. In order to change our thinking we need to change our perception and that starts with letting go of blame.
I know it’s not easy, I’ve been there. I live with challenges, mental and physiological but I can’t let that dictate who I am. I can’t give my power (inner power/the only power that matters) to someone else. I already did that for many years and it did me no good!. I decided to try a different way and I would like you to do the same, for your benefit.
Life prepared me for a different path where instead of seeing the challenges, I am embracing them and seeing the lessons, the wisdom which emerged from all of it. For me is not easy, my PTSD at times is super hard to manage, the dissociative feelings/stages can bring me down to my knees and yet afterwards I feel the release of years of anger, frustration, pain, loss, which only happen because I work with it, I let it flow, I stop the blaming of my past. Yes my past happened, it was real. The repercussions of trauma are real and no one has the right to make me or you feel as if we need to just get over it; that is not what am trying to do here. I am asking you to give yourself a chance, to rediscover the beauty they took from you, the beauty you yourself perhaps took from your soul and forgive yourself and others.
I am not asking you to enable others or to have them involve in your life; only you know what your soul is ready for. You are the only one that knows how much you can take. You are the only one who should matter first; only then can you offer love to anyone else. All am asking is to stop the blame in a negative way which hurts you.
Do not be cruel with other human beings but also know when to walk away; perhaps for a time until your soul has had the opportunity to heal and tells you is ready to handle more.
Don’t walk away to run away and don’t blame your past any longer; that way it does not stay alive. Try to look at it as if you were revising a script and when and if the hurt and anger, the feelings of helplessness happen, let them. Don’t fight them, don’t try to control them by supressing them; doing so will only lead to festering; release it the emotions… that is the way to clean wounds. As you understand more and more your pain, where it comes from, how it has affected you, your need for staying with the negative feelings will be less; your ability to change your thought process before it becomes too negative will be higher.
I don’t agree with any person who thinks the way to deal with traumas/negative emotions is to just medicate or bury things. As my own therapist taught me and as I have discovered, the road to healing will be painful, it will feel like hell but you have to step into it to emerge from it renewed.
When we hang onto feelings of anger and keep all the hurt alive, when we feel no progress is happening, is usually due to the fact that when moments of pain happen, when your soul wants to cleanse itself, you probably fight it; don’t. When you hang onto those feelings of anger, your soul regardless of others being the source of your pain will hold onto blame; it will blame itself because it is nursing negative emotions which go against our own nature. Life isn’t easy and for those like me life was probably packed with some horrible punches. There are things in this life that are black and white but when it comes to emotions, experiences, it is more complicated than that.
For those like me pain was part of everyday living; you bury the physical abuse, the emotional abuse, the neglect, the results of all of it, you learned to hide it all of it; that is so damaging to ourselves. We need to let it go by embracing and putting the blame where it belongs including owning our own mistakes and learning to change our perceptions.
This is how I try to do it and most of the time it works for me; if you are going to blame– blame your past for teaching you to love life and others with such intensity that few feel (It’s kind of like using reverse psychology on your negative emotions, so that you can get the most benefit in order to heal.) Blame those who beat you, who raped you, who abused you for teaching you to care. That is how I try to do it ( I say try because I am no master of my emotions yet). I blame those who hurt me for indirectly guiding me onto a new path, I blame those who taught me all the pain and the experiences I just mentioned plus the ones that expose me to the pain of seeing my neighbors and friends hurt/murdered; I blame them for teaching me strength, for teaching me courage, for teaching me to fight back. I blame them for teaching me compassion and when to walk away.
I blame those who tried/try to hurt my relationship and cause many troubles for teaching me just how much my partner loves me and is committed to me. I blame all the bad experiences for everything beautiful I cherish in my life; because of them, because I know the darkness is that I cherish the light. So if you are going to blame, do it this way because it will empower you and it will give your soul peace and when you feel peace it will help you find your way.
As we develop our emotional intelligence we discover more and more that our emotions/our perspectives can be changed for what is best for us. Our mind/thought process generates our feelings first. Most people don’t realize this or accept it because when we are exposed to external experiences we tend to attribute the emotions to the experience/person rather than realizing it originated with a thought which we create.
I heard someone illustrated quite well, which made sense to me. It goes something like this:
Here is what you think happens:
The old model/thinking/paradigm=Something external happens to you>(you did awesome in your exams)>that generates the emotion you feel>(happy)>emotion generates action>(work even harder/have more confidence on your abilities)>actions lead to result in your life>(you become top of your University class/graduate with honors/get a job offer before you graduate)> that external circumstance then feeds the feeling of happiness which creates more positive emotions.
Here is what actually happens:
The New model/thinking/paradigm=Something external happens to you> (you did awesome in your exams)>THEN YOU HAVE THOUGHTS WHICH CREATE AN INTERPRETATION FILTER (so the external circumstance hits your ear or eyes and it sends a message to your brain, which then process it and gives it an interpretation; the interpretation it will assign, will depend on your life lessons and experiences. This process happens very quickly without you even being aware of it)>that generates emotion>(happy)>emotion generates action>(work even harder/have more confidence on your abilities)>actions lead to results in your life>(You become top of your University class/graduate with honors/get a job offer before you graduate)>that external circumstance feeds the feeling of happiness which creates more positive emotions.
See the difference? It’s so subtle yet so powerful. The layer of interpretation is the key to life. Mastering that layer can bring so much real power into your life and have such a positive impact. Mastering this layer will affect you in a positive way and that will generate feelings of happiness and fulfillment.
Most of us are not aware of that layer, therefore there is so much chaos in our lives and the more we go through life letting the knee jerk emotion dictate our lives, the more unfulfilled and depressed we feel. If we don’t learn to master that layer then is as if we are living life in the same way a gambler hopes to win in Vegas.
To master that layer requires for us to learn to be in the moment and to reteach our minds how to reinterpret and assign new emotions. Mastering that layer is where true power lies, a power that many masters have been trying to teach for millennia on. To relinquish that power, to deny it exists, will only cause more pain and heartache, instability; not the results you want.
So many masters/gurus/teachers have said it time and time over… thoughts create emotions and our emotions shape our path.
Sometimes when we think of teachers/masters, we tend to think of Buddha, Christ, Krishna, etc. (Holy men) and it seems as if we can not relate. Well how about looking at Ghandi or one of the greatest philosopher, teacher, emperor and strategist; Marcus Aurelius. Marcus Aurelius’ teachings are still used all over the world. Marcus Aurelius was one of the greatest rulers and he was all about the study of self and the discovery of self control; he understood all starts with self. He wanted to show others how to bridge the balance between virtue and practicality, holy and human. Imagine as the emperor the amount of pressure and problems he would have had every day; imagine then how important it would have been for him to master that layer of interpretation.
One of his greatest quotes was “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your estimate of it and this you have the power to revoke at any moment”.
To achieve mastery of the interpretation layer requires consciousness (living in the moment) persistence and dedication. I am not trying to come across as if I have it all figured out or that I am the master of my emotions; certainly not; however I am working on it and will continue working on it, so when bad things happens I can see the lesson and benefit from it. As I said it requires one thing from you and that will be your commitment to countless hours spent learning new material, learning to meditate and be in the moment in oder for your brain to start reshaping its way of thinking. At the end however it will depend on how badly you want it. How badly you want to get better; that requires moving on from the victim seat to the driver seat. It can be scary as hell, the deeper the wounds the scarier it can get but it is a better way than the one where you are left feeling unworthy of being alive. How awful to feel that way because some horrible people/circumstances stole a moment(s) of your life. You can’t help what they took but you can stop them from stealing your whole life.
I think mastering the layer of interpretation is a beautiful and necessary lesson in order to live as a real human being VS a couch potato/ a person subjugated to chaos, someone with an identity crisis, trying to have your belongings determine your worth, etc. No matter how much you have don’t lose yourself. If you have worked for it then be proud of it; be thankful you acquired it by means that had nothing to do with taking from others, but don’t confuse material worth with your own sense of self, because if those external things were taken away from you, what would happen to you?.
A lot of people in this life think they have confidence because of how they carry themselves externally, however confidence like consciousness is a process and one that requires looking in, developing un-tap areas of your soul and mind. That is the confidence that NO ONE can take away and one which can not be faked. Don’t be afraid by those who claim or seem confident; be happy for those who truly are, most of the time however is just a mask. Most of us are wounded and don’t like to look at the wounds, we go through life trying to do the best we can without giving ourselves the time and permission to heal.
True confidence requires the dropping of all masks; a true confident person knows its okay to be scare, is okay to not be okay at times, he acknowledges, he accepts it and he works on it. In order to master this layer we need to learn to take responsibility for our actions and emotions; positive ones and mainly negative ones. In order for change to happen it will require for your attention to be focus on your emotions; do not dismiss why you are angry or depressed, frustrated, that won’t produce any changes; you need to focus and be extra aware as to why you feel the way you do. What was the thought behind it; if you feel you can’t do this start by focusing on the thoughts that you are creating during your anger/sadness and you will see that those thoughts originate from something. When you have identified that something, push yourself to detach from the situation (that is an example of when detaching can be beneficial) and see it as if the event was happening to someone else. Ask yourself what positive could come out of it?.
I am writing this because I want you to regain your life; I don’t want to sugar coated it and make you think that there is a quick fix, there is not. How quick or how slow will depend on you. Even if your life wasn’t full of traumas you can benefit from mastering that layer to enrich your life even more. You can learn to live a full life rather than escape life. Living life is not how busy you are, how many events you have to attend, how much money you have, how many people surround you; living life is about knowing your life is about you and you alone, that you have a right to growth, you have a right to shine. It means to own your soul rather than to let your body and society own you.