[2/7/22] Mind-Body Monday: Becoming an emotional detective
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Hello, my loves, I want to thank you for joining me on Facebook and on Instagram for the first time today. Let me know if you can see me on IG and if you prefer it or Facebook, if you Follow my IG page Thought Pain Therapy. As you know, while I have been a specialist in the field of Mind-Body Health, and chronic pain relief for over 20 years now, I am brand spanking new to the internet, so I love your feedback about video and sound quality almost as much as I love your thoughts about the daily topic. Speaking of which, I am having a unique experience today, I don’t know what to call this LIVE. We will be continuing our exploration of how our thoughts can hurt and heal us, as we have through this year’s topics of Forgiveness and Acceptance. Because, by learning how to master our thoughts, we reduce our pain in the mind, body and soul.
I thought about entitling today’s topic, Acceptance, like last weeks, but I think it could better be explained by a different heading, however, I couldn’t think of what that would be. So, I need your help. Let’s play a game… When I finish with the live today, why don’t you tell me what YOU would call today’s topic, and I will choose the one that I resonate with the most! I will pick a winner in a day or two and celebrate you! I mean great minds think alike, so.. Thanks for your help!
When we finished last Monday, we were discussing how to turn our thoughts from feeling victimized and angry at someone else for their misdeeds, to an internal investigation as to why we were angered and where our wounds lie. By focusing on going what I call “undercover” in self-inquiry and paying close attention to our reactions, we find what is the only true power we have over other people and situations in life. That is the power of our choice on how to respond. So, I am going to use a driving example again. To be honest, it is the area where I most often feel out of power. I notice myself more often triggered when I am driving, over other situations that I seem to be able to more easily review and release. So, How about someone cutting you off in traffic, as an example? So, you might notice that you immediately feel anger at them, maybe even a desire to get even. I mean, this happens to all of us right? Now, instead of focusing on why they cut you off, or the injustice you feel, focus instead on the emotion of anger that has been aroused within you. Leave the perpetrator completely out of your focus. Ask yourself, “why am I angry?” Your immediate response may be something like, “I’m angry because that SOB cut me off.” However, that is an action, and it is not responsible for our emotional reaction. Remember that you cannot make someone be different, so you can feel different. Our response to the discomfort of life is THE power that lies within us. So, I want you to go deeper than this particular catalyst of a rude seeming driver. I want you to plumb the depths of the anger itself. I want you to go under the cover of the emotion to find what it is charged by.
Now while this will be different for every person, I will give you an example that could have been applied to me. So, I’ve been cut off on my drive home, and I might be scared and angry. However, rather than give in to the desire to direct that emotion on a stranger, who could likely care less, I decide to do some undercover work, and figure out what is beneath the anger. So, I begin by asking myself simply, why am I angry? What I hear in my mind is that I am angry because it seems like that person feels entitled to go faster than I was, and sees their needs as being more important than mine….Okay, so my next step is to follow the feelings that are coming up of entitlement or self-importance. So, I go undercover again, and ask myself why?... Well, I think back about having been on my own and needing to support myself since I was 15, which meant I was not able to finish high school or go to college until my early 40’s. This often meant that I struggled with feeling “less than” other people. Less important, less intelligent, maybe even less valuable. So, I can attach some of this anger to my feeling of being less important than someone else. Now, I do the self-inquiry and ask “Is this true?” Am I less important? Less valuable? Less worthy than my unknown driving adversary? I then must acknowledge in that moment, that If I must still make comparisons to others (which I hope I no longer do) that I don’t have enough information to make any determination as to value or worth or rightness. Thus, I can relieve myself of the anger that filled me because of feeling “less than.” Is this making sense? Now, what if as I search myself again, I still feel anger. Well, then I ask myself why, and I find that this anger is concerned with the small amount of time I feel this could make me late to wherever I was going. Perhaps I have missed a light, that the car that cut me off made. Now I must check my accountability. Am I running late? If I was not, would it make me angry to have missed the light? The likelihood is, I am only angry at those in front of me when I am late to wherever I am going. So, in this case I must own, that my frustration is due to my own actions. Therefore I can forgive myself and the car now in front of me, and decide to ease my life further by taking greater care to leave earlier to my destinations….Okay, Now I check again, am I still angry? Maybe I find residual anger based on the fear that I could have been harmed by their actions. Well, that is certainly a reasonable explanation for the concern I felt. So, then I continue to turn that light of inquiry back towards myself, and recognize that perhaps, I was driving too fast to stop carefully, or I was distracted and driving too slow. Again, I hold myself accountable and decide how I need to adjust my own driving behavior to better protect myself. Maybe I should use a slower lane, maybe take a safer route, maybe pay more attention to the road and less to the radio or other conversations in the car., etc. I might then end the internal conversation by making one or more new decisions that affect how I drive, to keep myself as safe as possible. Now let’s end this particular example by saying that despite my self inquiry, I still find that this person was indeed careless and callous and nearly caused an accident harming themselves and innocent others. Well, in that case it might be good to pull over and let my body shake and shiver and release any endorphins of fight, flight or freeze, and let that fear release from my body so it doesn’t stay to color my emotional state and further experiences. I may even say a prayer for that person or ask my angels, ancestors or guides to watch over them to make sure that they harm no one, including themselves. I may even ask in that prayer that they gain the notice of an authority that can bring their recklessness to their attention by a ticket or further action, that hopefully will help save their life and that of others in the future.
Regardless, of how I now proceed, you may notice that my ultimate goal has been achieved. I have freed myself from anger at another person and have redirected my attention to my own life and actions where it can do the most good. Again, focusing on the power that I have to change how I feel.
Going undercover with our thoughts like this, allows us to question our reactions and master them, instead of allowing them to control us. This will begin to free us, allowing us to live a life in accordance with who we truly are. And who we truly are is not the sum of what is left after we have felt victimized by life. It is the sum of how we deliberately shape our life into being, based on conscious choice and self-love. When we stop ruminating on the how’s and why’s of another’s actions (which cannot truly be known anyway), we free ourselves to devote our precious mind space to why we felt the way we did when the circumstance occurred.
So let’s now use an example of words instead of actions. Imagine for me that you have a friend who’s can be a jerk perhaps, and this friend yells at you in front of someone else in a way you found demeaning and insulting. Instead of wondering why they said what they said…what you could have done to deserve it… or what others may think about you…You redirect your thoughts back inside yourself and think instead about how you felt, and why. Did you feel insulted? Then you need to ask ourselves why…. I know this may sound crazy but stay with me. It is important to ask yourself why someone else’s words caused you to feel insulted. Since it is not caused or controlled by you; it is not your responsibility to change or affect. However, your response is your responsibility. So before you make one, it is worth discovering what your “charge” was to their words. Now, I use the word “charge” to refer to that electrifying experience of feeling upset, shocked, scared, or angered by something we have undergone. So, let’s say in this example that your friend has called you an idiot. Well, the best response would be to take a breath and ask yourself sincerely, why does this upset you? Do you see yourself as an idiot?
Now I know this may seem absurd, but it is a serious question. The thought may seem frustrating or painful at first but you must trust me that I am getting to a place of freedom from this pain. So, for this moment, imagine someone called you an idiot. Now you may be thinking that anyone who was called an idiot would be upset, but that is not necessarily true. Words have power, but they don’t affect everyone equally. As an example, what if instead of being called an idiot, your friend called you “purple”, in the same tone of voice? Would you be equally upset? Would you become emotionally charged? I’m willing to bet you wouldn’t. Why? Because the word wouldn’t mean anything to you, it would have no place to land in your ego. It would have no value to you as a negative or positive word. Thus, there would be no reference point by which you could take it in yourself like emotional food, and give it meaning and weight as to how you see yourself.
Instead of being offended, you would probably look at them as if they had lost their mind and go back to whatever you were doing, no more distressed than an eye roll could satisfy. However, when they called you “idiot”, this word was given value. We often find that words have value and power. And if we feel insulted then we often bring those words it into our consciousness and place them within with a purpose. Now with intent we allowed it and yes allowed, because we had a choice, to cause us pain. We connected it with other times in our life we had been told or perhaps felt that we were in some way less smart than someone else, or than we, ourselves wanted to be. We immediately took umbrage against the word as we ascribed it to ourselves and became hurt or angry, but the question remains… did we have to? Did we have to become upset? Did we have to let it have meaning? Did we have to let it feel like it was true? So, for now, I want you to imagine this, and ask yourself why it hurt or angered you.
So again, let’s imagine that instead of “idiot” our friend called us “purple”. Perhaps they yelled it, or pointed and laughed at you. Perhaps, they even sneered as they said, “You’re purple” and turned and walked away. This wouldn’t be likely to cause hurt or anger in the same way because we wouldn’t know how to attach to it, and it thus it wouldn’t be likely to cause a charge. Maybe the tone or the expression would feel weird and confusing, but we wouldn’t be hurt in the same way. So why is that?
I believe we wouldn’t respond as negatively because we know that we are not purple. But the word idiot… well, maybe there is a place within our ego where we fear that this word could be true. Maybe we find that it touches us where we already carry a mental-emotional wound. A psychological wound is not unlike a physical wound. It is a place where we have been injured by someone’s words rather than a blade or bat. Perhaps our father called us an idiot while we were growing up, any time we disappointed him. Or more indirectly, maybe a teacher made us feel stupid compared to another student. Very possibly we have grown up feeling less intelligent than we wish we were and thus this word said in this moment, cuts us deeply where we are already raw, even if we didn’t realize it. You can be sure that the stronger and deeper the “Charged” emotional reaction and mental, emotional or physical response, then the greater the pre-existing wound. Simply described, if the thought of someone calling you an idiot (or something else) makes you feel enraged, or that you want retribution or violence, then you are having a traumatic response, likely from childhood. The word Purple wouldn’t hurt because we have never been made to feel purple, so that wouldn’t bother us, but stupid, idiot, fool, etc.… that hurts.
Now, ask yourself, why does it hurt? Like when we feel around in our mouth for a sore tooth with our tongue. I want you to feel around in our psyche for the place that this word lands. Find the wound. This is where our work begins. Once we find the wound we must ask ourself if what we were told in the past was actually true. Was it our truth? Or, was it more accurately a word said in anger or frustration by someone whose needs were not being met, or because they thought it might motivate us to action. Perhaps it was said by someone who didn’t know any other way to communicate their frustration without taking it out on us. Maybe they were treated the same way by their parent, or teacher or spouse, and without deliberation they were repeating patterns of aggression and blame. You might notice that these same motivations can be applied to the individual that is saying this word to us now, with a high likelihood of accuracy.
However, our intent is still to find deep within ourselves our truth regarding this word. Was it true? Are we indeed the word we were called? And even if we attach to it, and we believe that perhaps it could have applied to us then, does it today? If it doesn’t then our work ends here. Whew. Breathe a sigh of relief. We are done. No more thought needs to be given to this unkind or thoughtless act. It is not us. It is not our truth. It may have touched we where we were once wounded, but it doesn’t need more energy to be added to it. We can simply let it go. We can forgive this person their attempt directly or indirectly to harm us, as it is not our pain to hold. We can go on with our day and give it no more thought. Go home and enjoy our drive, our dinner, our time with our loved ones or by ourselves, and rest easily, secure in the knowledge that we are not a derivative of a word spoken to us by someone whose thoughts are not our own.
Now, if our ego wishes to give further thought to the experience, then focus that thought on whether or not the friendship we hold with this person is the right fit. Perhaps this experience of discomfort is not alone. Perhaps we have had many moments of hurt in this relationship and need to see these moments for what they could be on a grander scale. An increasing awareness that a change needs to be undertaken. That friendship is not that which serves us or our future any longer. Discomfort creates motivation for change. No one makes changes to anything when they are comfortable with the status quo. So, all changes in life are prefaced by dissatisfaction. When we look at it this way, it seems less scary and more inevitable. Where would we be today if we hadn’t felt uncomfortable or unhappy enough to change? Probably some of we would still be living with our parents. Others in a relationship that made them unhappy, or working at the first job they ever took. So, remember in times of stress and worry and dissatisfaction, that these moments can also be valuable harbingers of our future success.