We see the physical world around us, hear sounds everything is easily definable by our senses. We can identify where something ends and where it begins. We can see that easily. We can define a beginning and an end to every visual thing. The same with sound, it is very clear when it starts and stops.
We take this finite experience that we have with everything in the world and apply it to another area of our lives – thoughts, emotions, and feelings. As with the physical stuff we believe that a thought has a beginning and an end. But, let’s do an experiment – think about your favorite ice cream, now, stop thinking about it. Can you observe the end of that thought? – surely you cannot, because while you hold your attention on the thought, the thought doesn’t end. But how can this be? I noticed that thought beginning, I should be able to notice it end.
What about feelings and emotions?
When we talk about past feelings and emotions we define a beginning and an end to them. Since past feelings and the emotions are currently not present it means that at some point they started and ended.
Let’s do an experiment – Remember when something came up and triggered a bad feeling inside of you. Do you remember yourself as being able to change that feeling instantly? Surely you couldn’t. As long you were focused on the feeling itself or the subject around that feeling you were absorbed in experiencing only that.
Thoughts, feelings, and emotions are not physical things although we think of them as such without noticing, giving them time limits, starting and ending points, describing them using words that we use to describe physical stuff. Creating the illusion that they are as real as the physical things.
When we don’t like our coffee mug anymore we can throw it to the trash and move on with our lives, but when we don’t like how we feel or don’t like some idea that that is spinning in our head, here is where things become tricky. Getting rid of an emotion or a thought is not as easy as getting rid of a coffee mug. Frustration, anger, depression kicks in. Why? Because we treat our feelings, emotions and thought as physical stuff, wanting to throw them away.
But since we cannot actually grab our feelings or thoughts or emotions, we’re stuck in a repeating loop trying to grab them so we can throw them away. Grabbing them, of course, is not possible but what is possible is being focused with our attention on them. It is the same as trying to stop thinking about your favorite ice cream. Once you focus your attention on something you cannot stop thinking about it.
But not all hope is lost. There is something common to all of our experiences, and that is choice. As we chose to throw that coffee mug and buy a new one we also can choose to focus on something else, however only if there is nothing in our way of doing that. I’ll explain. Imagine if you were to pick that coffee mug with an intention to throw it away. But, you were to discover that you cannot pick it up no matter how hard you try, later, with some investigation, you discover that it is glued to the surface.
The same with thoughts, feelings, and emotions. If you find yourself not able to focus on something else that means that something is preventing you from focusing elsewhere – that something is your beliefs. Beliefs are like a glue that is keeping you fixated on your current repeated unpleasant experience, without you being aware to the existence of that glue.
Once you see your glue (beliefs) you can try to dissolve it. Dissolving unbeneficial beliefs is crucial for getting unstuck in any repeated emotional state such as sadness, depression, emptiness, helplessness, fear, etc. However, once you dissolve the glue (your beliefs) you might find yourself tempted to repeat the already well rehearsed emotional patterns of behavior and thought. This is where you make a choice and become a witness to your successful ability to make a choice and feel better instantly.
Life is infinite in its ability to give you what you’re asking for. If you choose to engage in your experiences, blindly, then you will get more of those experiences because you’re choosing to react to them in the same self-harming manner over and over again, repeatedly, infinitely.
So, find out why you can’t choose differently. What beliefs are preventing you to react differently? What harming beliefs are you afraid to let go of? Do this until you’re utterly convinced that you’re not the victim of life, you’re the victim of your own beliefs.
With that said, it is very easy to fall back into doubt and frustration once we see the repeated circumstances that make us feel bad. It is tempting to make a conclusion that we are victims of those circumstances. So, just remind yourself that this repeated circumstance is an opportunity to make a different choice right now, and nothing else. It is an opportunity to see if there’s any leftover glue (beliefs) remained on the surface that is preventing me to choose and react differently.
Dissolving unbeneficial beliefs is a subject on its own, click on the Beliefs Tag to read more.