No matter how much you learn, progress, relax or move forward, something or someone can erupt and present you with a challenge to the quiet moment you are having, the focus you are concentrated in, or the peace of mind you're enjoying.
Life is in your face and you can't ignore it or meditate it away. Though, believe me, I have tried. You too? Didn't work did it? So what about that?
If I were working with you as a coach, the very next thing you might say to me is "Well then, what should I do?"
Now, that would really seem like the right question, wouldn't it? But let's look before that. The question is not what to do so much as "Where will you look for the answer?"
I've talked about this in my book, but let's explore this more.
The answer to the challenge of other people and circumstances is not in finding the right response to is happening in front of us; it's in reading ourselves.
What you and I have both been trained to do is exactly the opposite. We've been trained to try to correctly interpret a situation and then process a lightening-rapid search in the data base of our previous experiences, our opinions and beliefs, and information gleaned from others in order to locate the appropriate words or actions to rise to the occasion.
Now, what you and I both know from experience is that not only do we rarely come up with the correct answer, but much of the time all logic, reason and temperance are completely aborted and we simply react. I bet you've tried a million gazillion times NOT to do precisely that. Right? We all have. We try not to react, we promise ourselves we won't say this or that but (as is the case with all "trying") we fail. Suddenly we find ourselves embroiled, annoyed, and saying things we later regret.
How many times have you sworn to yourself you would get off this particular merry-go-round? Hm? I have. For heaven's sake, I've been just recently swearing to myself that I won't get angry and then I find myself shouting at someone on the street.
Want to know what I've done to fix that?
I DO nothing. Because all my doing and my trying not to do is part of my issue.
I dont' want to do anything because I can't.
First, that would be trying to go against a law of life, a principle which says that I feel everything that I think.
Second, instead of seeing that is what is happening is going on inside me, I interpret my own bad feelings as a call to action.
The compulsion to act is not a signal to act! Check out that feeling of a compulsion to do something; is there urgency in it? Are your own feelings stirred up? If they are, that is telling you quite the opposite. It is probably NOT the time to press SEND on that text message...
But who can notice this when we are convinced our problem is outside of us and not inside of us? Who can see that in the moment, when all any of us want to do is to try to resolve the bad feeling through action. And don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that the feeling itself is a problem -- it is not. No feeling is ever a problem. The fact that you feel what is happening in you is not a problem at all. What I'm saying is we constantly misread the signals of our feelings as calls to action. Instead of seeing them as the sign that we are off kilter inside of us.
Common misinterpretations of our internal signals will have us leaving phone messages we regret, making angry hand gestures, using our cars as weapons, drinking too much, overeating -- a litany of reactive, even obsessive behaviors arise from not understanding the true source of our own feelings.
Of course, this is not always self-evident. For a very long time we've been taught to ascribe our feelings to the outside world. "You make me so angry!" we'll say. "His cheating made her start drinking heavily," we'll say.
These are not words we just say. These are reflections of how we believe we are constructed. I am not talking about a theory here. This is not a concept. This is the reality of how you and I and every human being on this planet is built to work. You feel whatever you think. I feel whatever I think. That is a part of the definition of how a human system works.
We think we are responding to a world that bumps, blows and buffets us all over the place. But we never are. That world we each see and each person we see is truly a function of what is IN us at the time we are looking. This is why you can go to a very beautiful place on vacation, and take all your worry with you and have an awful time. The beauty will not affect you. You will affect you. This is why you can be in a terrible traffic jam and being having a perfectly good time. If traffic has causal power, why is it not affecting you today? This is not a concept, it is a capacity we all have to experience the outside world as a function or literally, a result of the inside of us.
Ultimately this may well mean that there really is no reality. But that is far beyond what I understand for now. All I know is that if I can appreciate knowing how it really works,
- I can read the signs more accurately and not be confused about the source of my feelings
- I can use my feelings as a guide to know when I'm off center
- I can stop trying to control my feelings - including needing to "quiet my mind"
- I can go right ahead and live my life WITH all my feelings happening, because I know they are just signals
- I can allow my internal world to right itself; as it inevitably does
It has helped me a great deal.