I can tell when I’m done working with people because that’s when they’ll know how to successfully manage their consciousness. From there all they’ll need is practice, and a willingness to still allow life and its legitimate vagaries to happen, and they will continue to improve. But that’s what I know. For them it’s all new.
That newness can mean that, I’ll often anticipate hearing from the students whose focus was ‘anxiousness.’ It’ll generally happen somewhere from a month, to a couple years, after they’re done the course. And the call will center around their first encounter with some specific challenge that they can’t seem to ‘fix.’
Basically, the person will have ran into their first serious case of prolonged negativity since taking the course. And, finding themselves in that unusual situation of persistent issues, they will understandably start to use their thoughts to wonder what’s gone wrong? Which is the moment their ego interjects itself back into their process.
Since we all have egos, and since they are largely based in insecurities, as soon as someone cannot dispel some unwanted pain, many people will immediately assume that maybe they’ve lost track of the skills they learned—or that their grip wasn’t good enough to start with. In reality, it’s usually one of three things much better things:
The first, is that the experience they are having may be legitimate, and the feelings they’re experiencing exist for that reason. In cases of grief or loss for example, those are feelings we must accept and allow as both natural and healthy aspects of the love we feel for others. If romance or making friends is at the front of love, grief and loss form the back of its shape.
Real life does include some pain. And bearing it, when appropriate, does make us both stronger and more empathetic as people. So, even there, our ‘struggles’ include a benefit paid to our future selves. It is when we misapply those sorts of feelings—on thought-created issues—that we create the unnecessary suffering. Which leads us to the second reason they’ll call:
The second reason is that some event has triggered some old hyper-developed courses of thought. These usually involve family, or ex’s, or PTSD. These people are still fine in short order, but they are the only group that really needs an hour or so of additional training, centered around de-wiring that specific hot-wired trigger.
The third and most common reason people can feel they have lost touch with their ability to be happy, are the feelings they get from prolonged exposure to people who are being voluntarily unhappy.
Once a student one knows how to be happy, they can start to more easily see how others regularly abuse themselves in the same ways that the student abused themselves before taking the course. And watching people hurt themselves voluntarily does take some getting used to.
It’s always unpleasant to witness people hurting themselves. But over time we come to see it in a context that includes much more overall happiness (because we got even better at seeing more of that too). But, particularly at first, negative people can really bother a newly-happy student, because the behaviours remind them of who they were.
I just had a case like that. A wonderful guy I had worked with had previously been around a negative group of co-workers for so long, that their negativity had rubbed off on him. Daily negativity had become ‘normal,’ which is why he came to me for stress. But when we got rid of the stress by getting rid of the negativity, that was right around the time he changed jobs.
Because he is still working in the same industry, he recently had to spend a week back with his old, beloved crew, in his old, beloved workplace. And he really cares about these truly good people. But now there’s a problem: He’s lived for many months as a happy, positive person who is enjoying his life. So, suddenly, by comparison, his old, formerly fine job, now feels like Hell.
When he and his former co-workers were swimming the same direction with their negative thoughts, those people were ‘right,’ and they ‘understood,’ and they empathized with his sadness or anger about the world. But now he was back and was swimming in the opposite direction, meaning he was bumping into their negativity at every turn.
Those cases are fun because you get to tell the person that they only felt lost because they are doing so well at being happy. It’s actually a sign of their success—when being around voluntarily unhappy people actually becomes painful. Isn’t that beautiful? What better sign of health could we have than the desire to avoid unnecessary negativity?
And of course, none of this means he does not love his former co-workers. They were happy to see him, and they all wish each other the very best in the most sincere ways. But his new outlook means that he now sees where their suffering really comes from, and that can modify how he lives his life.
Of course, he’ll feel best around people with similarly optimistic views. But, if he doesn’t try to over-do his time spent with more negative people, as their innocence in their suffering becomes more and more evident to him, he’ll find that he’ll be able to be increasingly kind, generous and patient with them.
That said, even when we can see other’s innocence, to foster healthy relations between us and them, we must always be willing to remove ourselves from those influences when we feel our limit for negativity approaching. In fact, to do so is an act of love designed to maintain the relationship.
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.