Scott’s Favourite Questions of 2014 #3

717 SFQ14 Relax and Succeed - You have no idea

The top posts of each year are selected by my readers and they’re posted in December. My selections for my favourites were traditionally posted then but I’ve realized it makes more sense to use my summer break to expose what I feel are some of the most useful pieces I’ve written. Because I took half of 2014 to answer direct questions from readers, I’ll do a week of Top 3 Questions and then next week I’ll do the Top 3 Posts. Today for question number three we deal with anger, tempers and how our family can influence us in extreme states of mind:

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Scott’s Top
Questions of 2014 #3

peace. s

Light Up Your Life

It is understandable when significant events have an impact on our lives. There is nothing wrong with feeling a sting of pain or jab of remorse or to be choked with sorrow. These are all legitimate ways to experience life. You just don’t want to stay spinning on those states of mind when you were meant to move on. In fact the pain is there to indicate to you that you 662 Relax and Succeed - I know now that we never get over great lossesare not supposed to ruminate on thoughts of that type and that it is time to move on to other things.

You have two choices after you’ve experienced hardship, pain or loss. You can allow those experiences to diminish you—to crush your spirit—and you can shroud yourself in dark thoughts about the past or damning ones about the future. Or you can accept those experiences as valuable and in doing so integrate them into your being. Previous experience is what creates empathy and that leads to compassion which is a form of love and connection. So pain and suffering are ultimately an invitation to have more love and connection in your life. But not if you hide away and shroud yourself in wishful thinking.

Everyone you meet has experienced great pain. And you can see how it’s affected them. For some they are hunched and tired and defeated, whereas others are bright and empathetic and aware. Some relive their pain regularly whereas others are only glad to have survived it. My father said there was only two ways to come back from WWII: sorry you went or glad you made it back. These aren’t two different wartime experiences, these are two different choices about how to process the fact of being in a war. So the person in pain will say that their experience is the source of their suffering just as the compassionate person will say that the very same experience is the source of their compassion.

662 Relax and Succeed - Sunlight I met a girl onceI’ve referred to kintsukoroi in a previous blog. It’s the Japanese practice of repairing broken pottery with gold. The notion is that no one should be upset by a broken vase because it now has the opportunity to be even more beautiful. The same holds for people. As Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross points out, the cracks are where the light gets out. The uninjured are of little comfort to a grieving person. But someone who understands? That person is invaluable. That person can connect with you. That person can share your pain and thereby diminish its intensity. You are grateful for those people in your life.

I am not suggesting that you enjoy your next struggle. But do keep in mind that it is in a way a form of Life University, where are you being constantly re-trained in matters of the heart. Do not let your unpleasant experiences lead you to lock yourself away. This is like getting your angels wings and then not flying. After those events you are made more powerful, larger and more connected. In fact your own strength will increase with each additional person you help. And all the time you will be bound together by the gold of your relationship—the bond of shared pain.

Life is sometimes beautiful and rewarding. And other times it is harsh and cruel. But the way to beautiful and rewarding from harsh and cruel is often through someone who has enough experience with the latter that they can lead you to the former. And it’s important to remember that sometimes that person will be you.

peace. s

Temper or Anger?

Before I took more control over my thoughts I had a bit of a temper. It wasn’t bad by temper standards, but there’s people you’d never say had a temper and I wanted to be one of them because it seemed to me that it was a damaging state of mind to be in. Now I can still get angry if I’m tired or hungry—even really angry every few years if those conditions are extreme—but it’s been decades since I’ve had anything you’d call a temper. It’s not a common place I go to. I’ve got it down to fairly minor levels of irritation with occasional moments of 603 Relax and Succeed - Anger if not restrainedsharp frustration and thankfully whatever negative state of mind I get into I can also get out of pretty quickly.

I don’t totally want to dispel my negative emotions because I need them for contrast so that I know which feelings I truly want to actualize in my life. They are like guidance systems—like the rumble strips on the side of the highway. They quite clearly tell me I’m headed in the wrong direction. Sometimes our battle is with our ego—where we’re just talking to and undermining ourselves. But if we follow our sense of something—if we’re working hard at it and it still feels unpleasant despite the fact our mind is quiet and uncomplaining, then that is the universe’s communication to you that it’s time for the next part of your adventure. This is not a problem. This is notification of an opportunity.

All emotions are reactions to calculations in our consciousness. If we see a tiger and our brain processes what it knows about the humans and tigers and the reaction is fear, that in turn doses you with adrenaline and a variety of other biological agents. So if you’re focused on irritating and frustrating things all day long—as a great many people voluntarily do—that leaves you primed to have an angry reaction. Most of the chemistry is already present and you just need to add a trigger and you’ll jump up to the next level of chemistry, which takes your intense frustration and adds the last dose to create full-on anger. And yet, if that same trigger had hit been injected into the day of a person who hadn’t spent their day in that part of their brain, then the impact would have been far less pronounced.

603 Relax and Succeed - You will not be punishedGetting angry is something everyone does. It’s human, so there’s no reason to make it go completely away. But do we want that flush of chemistry to lead us to make poor decisions for our future? Obviously not. So it’s in our own best, selfish interests to try not to go there any more than we have to. And you don’t fix that just before you explode in anger. You fix it by not priming yourself all day to get angry. Because if you do that you’ll start spending so much time angry that instead of being frustrated you actually will have a temper.

You don’t want your emotional set-point to be an angry, tight emotion. Go there when it’s appropriate, but in a huge number of cases you’ll never even need to start feeling that way. Because if you’re not watching the world all day for stuff that bothers you, then that frees up time for you notice how great people and the world really are. And that is like armour for whenever you do have to deal with things you don’t enjoy.

Stop letting your thoughts run wild or they’ll convince you you’re the issue rather than that your thinking is unconscious. Use your emotions as guides to help you pay better attention to where your thoughts are at, and if you don’t feel good just shift your attention to something better. Stop yourself at irritation or frustration–before you reach anger. Divert your thinking and divert the chemistry. The more you do it the more you get better at it. Do that enough and you will have built yourself an amazing untempered life. 🙂

Have a wonderful day.

peace. s