You have done the meditations and you’ve started to learn the act of switching emotions, the patience to decide if the emotion should be changed or experienced, and then you’ve gotten to know how your emotions impact your physical self so that you have clear indications of when you’re happy and when you’re otherwise.
We’ve talked about using your posture, a smile, a tone of voice, a manner of walking–that would all incite activity in the parts of your brain where you’re better wired up for happiness. This is like when they teach little kids to have a happy place. As we’ve discussed, you can have some go-to thoughts that you like, but don’t go adding to your negative narrative if you miss the opportunity to take those reigns.
You have to learn several things: a general awareness of yourself, an emerging understanding of how your psychological self emerges within your physical being, and the possibility and wisdom of making those changes. Changes that may have been otherwise seen as needing external intervention rather than internal intervention.
It is still perfectly useful to you to become aware of an emotion in this way and not do anything about it. If you’re initially upset you didn’t escape your unnecessary bad feelings then that means you have fully accepted that you can change them–you just haven’t refined your switching or your acceptance. Just your awareness is a bigger part of this than you realize.
Yes, the change feels really nice pretty much immediately, but even when you make it you’ll be on tilted ground. If anyone did anything that you felt exacerbated your issue, your recovery might well slide backwards immediately. That’s fine too. I want you to come to know this landscape. To slow it all down so you can see it more naturally. This is where you really live.
As you study yourself your knowledge grows and you will find yourself intervening–sometimes in surprising ways. These weren’t things you calculated with brain knowledge, but more the things you know through a more immediate wisdom. It knows what to do in a profound way, but it does need access to the steering wheel. If your ego is busy trying to steer around pain then it can hog the wheel all the way until you fall asleep. And in the end it won’t avoid any pain, but all that useless weaving will create a lot of suffering.
See the “emotional you” as someone who is very simply addicted to the chemistry for their Dominant Negative Emotion. It’s why people with an abusive parent will date abusive people, or even why people will frighten themselves intentionally etc. Everyone’s hunger for each chemical varies, but our Dominant Negative Emotion is one worth doing an intervention with.
By changing or even muting that emotion some percentage of the time you will instill in yourself this capability. Over time it will become so ordinary and everyday that instead someone will describe your ability as your personality. You’ll be referred to as extremely patient, or extraordinarily compassionate or forgiving, and that will feel good. But again, this isn’t about you looking good to others, it’s about you being authentic.
If you’re truly free then you won’t be as willing to bow to counter-productive social norms. Others might see you as difficult or arrogant, but really what’s happening inside is that you’re focusing on the things that matter. Yes, the wrapping paper says something. But that’s messaging. The contents are what ultimately count. It’s fine to wrap something up beautifully. But only if it isn’t to disguise the fact that it’s not really what it purports to be. People’s wisdom will eventually figure that out.
See your ego as more separate today. See it as a literal other person. Enhance that distance. It will help you see that your ego is your shadow. You can’t do things by changing the shape of your shadow–that’s all just spinning in place. You must alter what is happening within yourself. Therefore you will behave in a different way and thereby cast a different shadow. (The only question will be, what will you do when a healthy state for you gives you a shadow you’ve historically avoided..?) 😉
Spend today and tomorrow focused on body awareness and listening to your ego as a separate entity. Catch yourself a few times doing each and you’ll have done well. I know some of you have post-it notes to remind you at your desks, so if you’re serious about doing these meditations you will already have advanced your awareness considerably. You deserve to feel very good about that. Now go create a great day.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations around the world.