Before you laugh this off as crazy, I would like you to just bare with me whilst I explain the therapeutic effects of this massively counter-intuitive approach.
So yes, this may seem backward, even nuts. But if we learn to embrace our suffering, even enjoy it, we can actually balance ourselves out and come to a place of peace. It’s the resistance to suffering that actually breeds more suffering. It took me ages to realize that any attempt to suppress or try to escape the suffering leads to more suffering. You can’t put out a fire by pouring more petrol over the flames, that’s not going to extinguish it. We have to starve the suffering of the fuel it needs to keep alive, and that fuel is resistance.
Why do we resist how we feel? Because it’s totally natural for us to not want to experience suffering, it makes complete sense doesn’t it? After all who in their right mind wants to consciously experience feelings of inner turmoil?
However natural not wanting to experience any suffering may be, it actually doesn’t make the suffering go away, it keeps it in place. This is completely counter-intuitive to what we usually hear. We normally get encouraged to fight off how we feel if it isn’t a desirable feeling state. To suppress it with all our might until it passes. We get told that fighting off any unwanted feeling states will make us feel better. The desire to feel a certain way whilst we’re currently feeling emotionally imbalanced creates more suffering.
The more effort we put into trying to block out the unwanted thought or feeling, the less successful we will be. I liken it to holding down a float underwater.
It’s only a matter of time before we get tired and the combination of the water pressure and our inability to keep the float under water sends it shooting up to the surface like a human gulping for air. I also liken it to trying to not think of a certain object when someone tells us to not think of that certain object. However hard we try not to think of it, we of course do. It’s just the nature of the mind. So instead of going against the nature of how the mind works, we can work with it and transcend the inner disturbance we feel.
The best thing to do is to embrace the unwanted thoughts and emotions instead of trying to run away from them. Approaching our mind activity from a position of denial or suppression will only insinuate that we’re afraid of what we’re experiencing and will send a signal to our subconscious mind that we fear this and is very important to us as it has the ability to disturb us.
This is why not minding how we feel is the best approach when it comes to actually moving past inner turmoil. When we give our thoughts and feelings the freedom to be as they are, they have no reason to disturb us. It is our approach and perception of our thoughts and feelings which determine how we emotionally react to them.
An empowering perspective to adopt even whilst in the midst of “unwanted” thoughts and feelings is to view them as neutral and insignificant. Once we stop viewing them as bad or stop trying to escape from our thinking and feeling states, we can then allow ourselves to fall back into balance – calm neutrality.
We can actually play a trick on our minds self defensive mechanism – which automatically creates more resistance to any thoughts or feelings we perceive to be “negative.” And that trick is to start enjoying the negativity we feel. Instead of desperately trying to escape from the negative energy we feel inside, we can take away the uncomfortable experience by not wishing it away. But by wanting to experience it.
As I’ve said, it’s a trick we have to play on our intellect. We have to double-bluff with our mind by convincing it that we actually don’t want to feel any different from the way we do and by practicing this, we will cut off the inner resistance we feel. Honestly it really works. When we try and escape from our inner suffering, we fuel it.
In other words, we make it much worse than it actually is. Because every time we try and break free, we send our brain into resistance mode. It is then common for us to feel annoyed and angry by the defensive mechanism. this creates more defensiveness and thus more resistance. And because we act irrationally from this state, we try lot’s of different ways to deal with the suffering, we jump from one therapy to the next and expect a cure to this intense suffering.
What has to be done is to stop trying to change our current state though internal conflict. Anything we do to try and fight off the emotional pain will send a message to the subconscious that what we’re currently experiencing is obviously a problem or a threat. This will not bring peace.
When we approach the inner hurricane of thoughts and feelings from a place of allowance, we cut off the power of resistance.
The way to break this cycle is to no longer argue, reason or fight what we’re experiencing. It is to actually welcome it. When we keep the door open to emotional disturbances, we transcend the disturbances. When we close the door and lean our weight onto it, the emotional disturbance comes in again through the back door.
I’ve said it before and I’ll keep mentioning it in this book because it is so powerful to apply. We have to give up the fight with trying to feel better by trying to change our inner state. Okay, it might work for a little while but it doesn’t work in the long run, it requires far too much effort to maintain and as a result, it will just burn us out. This isn’t the correct way to go about feeling better. However logical it may seem to try and think our way out of our unwanted state, it will actually create more disturbances and will thus perpetuate suffering.
An effective way to actually feeling better is to completely leave our inner state alone focus our senses on the external world away from our internal world of thoughts and feelings. When we focus on the environment, whether that’s focusing our senses on our surroundings or immersing ourselves in our favourite hobbies, we pull our focus away from our minds and thus allow it to reconnect with our natural state of emotional balance. We become fully present.
Any attempt to intervene with our mind during periods of emotional imbalance will block the psyches ability to find it’s own way back to balance. Like our body sending new skin cells to close the gap of a cut, our psyche has this same intelligence. It will close the gap of our emotional imbalance if we just stop trying to feel different from the way we currently do.
All we have to do is focus our senses on something else whilst we allow our mind to do it’s thing.
We’ve made it a habit to try and fix the way we feel by using our minds. But this, as I’ve constantly stated is like a cat chasing it’s own tail. The mind cannot be fixed by using more thought, we have to pull our attention away from the habit of trying to fix our inner state. This can only be done by using our senses productively. Like soaking up our external environment, being immersed in stimulating and enjoyable activities.
From my own experience and from the people I’ve spoken to about this topic, we all have one thing in common. And that is fighting our inner environment of thoughts and feelings breeds more resistance and thus more suffering.
When we stopped fighting the thoughts and feelings, we freed up a lot of negative energy inside of us, thus putting us back in touch with our natural state of emotional balance. It makes complete sense to want the disturbing thoughts and feelings to be gone, or for our current experience to be different from the way it is, but it actually makes things far worse.
If we can allow our inner state to be as it is, in other words if we leave our thoughts and feelings alone long enough, then we will naturally gravitate back to balance because our psychology and physiology work to maintain equilibrium. In other words, our internal system is always trying to bring us back into balance because that’s how we are designed.
It’s a function of our psychology and physiology. Again, It works in the same way as when our body sends new skin cells to close the gap of a surface wound. Our bodily systems have an intelligence of their own which we have no conscious control over. It’s the same intelligence that keeps the blood flowing, food digesting, lungs working etc etc. It’s the power of the subconscious mind.
In works the same way for our psychology too. We don’t actually have to do anything to feel better. To be more precise, we don’t have to consciously control how we feel, because we are not designed that way. We don’t have to worry about changing our thinking or feelings, doing this just creates more resistance and keeps the unwanted thoughts and feelings in place. I’ll talk more about the minds self-correcting system.
Everything goes on in the subconscious. We don’t have as much conscious control as we think. If we ask ourselves what are next thought will be, we’ll have absolutely no idea. If we could control what we thought about, then we would only choose the thoughts that make us feel more alive and empowered. But this is impossible because everyone experiences negative thoughts and always will.
So trying to control our mind by thinking positively is a waste of time and energy. Trying to think positively when experiencing negative feelings and thoughts insinuates that we’re trying to run away from our current experience, this will not actually bring about transcendence. A strategy that will honestly bring about transcendence would be to accept our inner state exactly as it is and being okay with it.
I know that we don’t consciously want to feel emotionally imbalanced but when we trick our mind into thinking we’re fine with whatever emotional state we’re in, we cut off the internal resistance and find our way back to calm neutrality.
Giving our thoughts and feelings the freedom to be as they are will mean we will experience freedom because we are not giving our thoughts and feelings any reason to trouble us. When we resist the resistance which is created from our defensive minds, we just go round and round in circles. Feeling more overwhelmed and unhappy. The trick is to just do the opposite.