"It's been years now, but I just can't forgive so and so."
"Every time I hear his voice, I just want to slump on the floor and cry."
"I can't stop thinking about how much they hurt me and it makes me so mad."
"I've just been told they are not sure if it's treatable."
No one disputes that you have good reasons to feel bad when you've just been told you have a disease or that your job is gone. And I'm not saying you should feel great and wonderful on the heels of some difficult life moment. Yet I am interested in the process by which we explain our feelings about them. Because where we see the cause of our feelings has everything to do with our recovery.
Although anger, grief, self-admonition, regret and concern are 'normal responses' we are often looking to resolve these emotions in the completely the wrong place. For years I remember thinking that if my father apologized to me for a particular childhood event, then finally I could feel better, put the grievance behind me and get on with life. Because of this kind of thinking, I wallowed in my own bad feelings for years later without any resolution, understanding or forward movement. Despite therapy, counseling and body work.
I knew I was stuck in the past. I think we've all experienced this -- and the helplessness that goes with it.
It seems like all the pain is coming from outside of us. It certainly seemed that way to me!
So let's consider for a moment how it is any outside experiences get 'inside' of us.
How did my father, who lived far away, actually make me miserable over the years, with an event that was long over and done with? How is it, for example that cancer actually creates emotional disturbance? How is that someone else uses their power to create sadness in you? How does that process, that alledged transference actually work?
If you examine closely you will see that it doesn't. All of my pain was old history carried through time -- by me. The same is true of everything we feel pain about, trivial or serious.
Consider this as an example. Let's take a friend of mine who knows someone at work who is very 'negative.' My friend will tell you that this person has such bad energy they can get into his space (or anyone else's) and ruin his day.
Know anyone right now who has that power in your world?
My friend told me, "There are just some people who have bad energy, and when they are around they are going to affect you. That's just not something you can change."
I considered that for a moment. How does that work? I thought...
I asked him, "Is there ever a time when that person doesn't affect you that way?"
"Well, sometimes. When I'm in a good mood after the weekend. I just go 'Whatever, dude!'"
"And are there some people who are friends with him and don't seem to think he has this 'bad energy?'"
"Well, yeah, actually. Which is strange"
"It is strange isn't it? How is that possible do you think?" I wondered with him. "If he is the cause of the 'bad vibe', you'd think he'd always be the cause? Not only for you but for everyone. Wouldn't everyone agree on who he is?
So where is the difference -- his behavior or your attitude?"
Someone I know discovered this for herself recently and described it as, "All I have to do is hear her shoes coming down the hall!"
As if the shoes created the feelings.
What we know about life, but often forget, is that no person or thing really has the power to make us feel anything at all. We are sovereign in our feelings.
What we do is look around and ATTRIBUTE our feelings.
But that doesn't give the shoes power.
Looking outside for the causes of our inside feelings is just a mis-attribution of cause.
Feelings don't arise out of nowhere. They are not 'provoked' out of us by job losses or diagnosis. They arise from the thoughts, judgements and stories we create about life around us and about what things mean.
So it is actually very true to say that things are not always what they seem - because we are not really seeing. We are only 'perceiving' via our thoughts. Like the projector shows whatever film is on. You feel what's happening in you. Not what is out there.
And that is good news on many fronts.
It means that you have the ability to have occur to you new ways of seeing things. You have the capacity that your heart may open suddenly without notice. The capacity to feel good is lying there within you and can pop to the surface anytime like a bobbing cork in the water. There is no limit and no barrier on your capacity for joy, love, and wisdom. Because you never learned those things, they just came with your human firmware installation.
And because of that, you really can relax.
So whenever a good feeling comes up naturally for you, you might like to notice that.
When I began to relax and see that all my past was gone, that my feelings were coming from my own thoughts, my father and I became the great friends that I always hoped we would be.
What I've noticed is that I have a natural tendency toward upwards. Toward love. Toward reconciliation. It is beautiful that we actually tend naturally toward good feeling. We can miss that wonderful fact when we are pointing the finger away from ourselves.
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"Elese Coit is a leader in transformative personal change and Hosts the Radio Show A New Way To Handle Absolutely Everything. To see the world differently, reach for one of her '101 New Pairs of Glasses' on http://elesecoit.com"