I read somewhere (probably in Tolle’s “A New Earth”) something about emotions being the body’s reaction to thought. This concept has been of particular interest to me lately as I have been experiencing such an intense range of emotions over the past week or so. Over the past year, I have to a large extent learned how to step outside of the emotional reactions that come up, effectively diffusing them and finding creative solutions, but lately I seem to be fully embodying each reaction. I get lost in the story of it, and I spiral down a long, dark hole.
So it all seems to start when I am confronted with a situation that under normal circumstances I’d rather not be in. This happens to us all the time, and takes on many different forms and degrees of severity. The initial judgment as “good” or “bad” and corresponding initial emotional reaction happen almost instantaneously, but much of the time I am able to just use that feeling as a cue to grab my compass.
With compass in hand, my usual course of remedy is to just accept that “this is the situation”, and set about exploring the possible ways of handling it. By accepting it, I just allow it to be there and don’t get myself mentally entangled in a battle of “wishing it was different”. In that way, I am able to respond to the needs of the situation by harnessing the energy that would have been tied up in resistance and putting it to good use in resolving the issue in a compassionate and efficient way. These solutions typically benefit all concerned without the added stress or tension to my body.
But lately I realize that after that initial emotional reaction, I am entering a resistance phase. Rather than accept what is happening, I start telling myself a story about how I wish it wasn’t happening and I quickly assign blame (often to myself). Those stories perpetuate the emotional reaction which perpetuates the story and on and on until I end up in either a huge explosion and/or a mess of tears. It’s been at this point lately that I find my compass and ask myself “what in the world am I doing?” I am then able to witness my body’s reaction to those thoughts: trembling, quivering, dense, stiff.
How am I supposed to be able to come up with a creative solution if I am locked in such a mental and emotional fetal position? It’s not possible, and I am only doing damage to myself and those around me by reacting in such a way. I also begin to flog myself with the internal dialogue of how I should know better than this by now. This undermines my creativity even more because then I feel like I’m some sort of a fraud for posting all these posts promoting conscious living and here I am still falling pray to this most common tool of the ego.
So I write this today partly in an effort to come clean and say I am not perfect, partly because acknowledging and accepting our limitations is often the first step to moving beyond them, and partly because I thought it might also be helpful for others too. I remind myself that it’s in these imperfect moments that we can often find out greatest lessons, that emotional reactions are often just our past presenting itself now so we can have the opportunity to do it differently, and that it’s okay to be a mess from time to time especially if we can be a mess consciously.