Today’s the day. You’ve encouraged positivity within yourself by intending to have a good day, you’ve increased your daily awareness of how you process your days and now it’s time to start making intentional changes within the moment you’re in.
The process is very simple: you use your increased awareness to keep a better monitor on the quality of your thinking. As you begin to feel emotions you use your new awareness to avoid blaming the outside world for those feelings and instead you look inside yourself. Is your reaction suitable to the situation or are your feelings coming more from your resistance to what is happening? These can appear to be similar things but they are in fact quite different.
For instance, being anxious while you’re being interviewed for a job isn’t that strange. Especially if you have very little recent experience being interviewed. It feels unnatural and yet you’re there for something important–you’d rather not escape. You can accept those feelings as somewhat normal and they won’t overtake you. The people interviewing you might not even notice any anxiousness.
The act of acceptance is essentially you ceasing any resistant self-talk in favour of opening up and listening to and experiencing that moment. But focus on an idea–spin it in your head as resistance to what you want to happen and you will increase your dose of the very chemistry you find troublesome and before you know it you’ll be reeling out of control–strangely all by choice.
You know your most common negative emotion. We’re just trying to catch you a few times in that state and then at least know there’s an escape hatch. You don’t even have to open that hatch or jump through it–just being aware of your suffering as optional is a huge step forward. Realizing that even if you can’t change it, you’re starting to believe you can. And as Henry Ford said, “Think you can, think you can’t, you’re right either way.”
Just be watching it you’ll slow things down. It’ll seem easier to stick something into the spinning spokes of the narrative when you’re more aware of it happening. You’re already aware of an easy better choice–your Dominant Positive Emotion. Trust me, you’re wise. You used to do this as a kid, before you learned concepts like pride and betrayal and truth and honesty and loyalty. They’re all nice ideas. It’s just important to remember that they’re ideas and once they’re in context they’ll always be up against other ideals. That’s why we’re better to not have expectations about the world delivering itself to us in just the right way to ensure our emotions never get jarred or that we’re never uncomfortable. There’s billions of us, that just won’t work.
Okay? So you accept some emotions as suitable, and others you look to shift out of by finding something–anything–that triggers your Dominant Positive Emotion. A video. A memory of a favourite moment. Be like a kid and just find something you really want to do.
You can do this. You already do. You’re just not conscious of it. Once you’re conscious of it you’ll start changing all on your own. A lot of you will even make a switch today or in the next few days. From there it’s just a practice. One day at a time one moment at a time. No chastising yourself for opportunities missed–that’s the past. You can’t be present and intentional and then live in the past.
You’ve got this. This is the beginning of a new way of living. And trust me, you’re farther along the path than it’s possible for you to realize at this stage. But trust me, over time you’ll notice yourself having reactions to events that seem new and calmer and more capable, because that’s who you really are: the greatest source of wisdom in your life there is.
In the next phase we’ll discuss the various ways you can move your psychology to ensure that making this switch becomes second nature.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.