Course correction: negative emotion

My previous efforts with the Abraham-Hicks teachings have helped me a great deal. My mood is better, I’m more active in life, I feel less burdened by things that used to bother me.

My relationships have improved, my health has improved, and I feel better all round.

So why a course correction?

I’ve been feeling so much better that lately other, more difficult issues have risen to the surface. This is a good thing, but it demands a change in my approach.

Why is it a good thing?

The root causes of our problems are best not tackled directly until we are ready. It’s like removing a big tree: you first cut off the branches, then maybe cut off sections of the trunk, only when the branches and trunk are gone do you tackle the stump and the roots.

What are you now doing differently?

Up to now my A-H work has been based on effort – the effort of finding better-feeling thoughts, the effort of focusing on desires instead of fears, and the effort of going general or distracting myself.

This is okay, but making “work” out of it is ultimately unsustainable. The bottom line is that we already want to feel better, and it shouldn’t take a convoluted effort to get us there.

The upshot is that part of me has been feeling a whole lot worse than I was willing to acknowledge, and having “work” to do helped me escape and delay facing those negative feelings.

Again, that’s not bad. Giving myself that delay and reprieve allowed me to improve my life in numerous other ways. It’s a bit like needing to build your physical strength before undergoing a major surgery or treatment.

So what I’m now doing differently is acknowledging the negative emotions I previously tried to escape. This is hard, but I keep reminding myself these emotions are a form of contrast, and contrast means something good is coming. Or like a physical pain, the pain means your body is responding. Help is on the way.

This reminder is enough. Instead of running off looking for a way to “solve” these negative emotions, I’m letting them stand in acceptance of them, trusting that this contrast is concurrently informing desires and calling forth a genuinely improved way of being.

I may be feeling a whole lot worse, but at least it’s whole rather than fragmented.

Born in the wrong era?

How many of you grew up feeling like you were born into the wrong era, the wrong culture, or even the wrong reality?

I used to want to escape into a fantasy world; or I’d imagine what life would be like if I’d lived in the Middle Ages. Sometimes I’d wish I had an ethnic or cultural background a little more interesting than the Anglo-Celtic “default” option in Australia.

The cynical side of me poured cold water on all of these: you only think other cultures are cool because they’re unfamiliar and exotic; you want to live in the past but you’d be a peasant, not a knight; you want to escape into fantasy but that’s all fantasy is – empty escapism.

Yeah, my cynical side is a bit of an arsehole.

And ultimately cynicism is for arseholes. There’s nothing creative or beautiful about shooting down people’s inspiration and dreams. It’s true that the grass can look greener on the other side, but it’s still grass, and why let that stop you exploring the other side if that’s where you want to go?

Maybe it’s just fear of disappointment masquerading as wisdom? “What if I go, and it’s not as good as I’d hoped?” Well at least you’ll have a story to tell. But I can guarantee cynicism won’t help you find what you’re looking for.

Making peace with your reality

But at the same time there is a bit of escapism here. I didn’t just want to be somewhere else, I really hated where I was and saw evidence of it everywhere.

I wanted excitement and adventure, not suburbs and mortgages. I wanted a suit of armour, not a business suit. I wanted to live in a fortress or a mysterious and magical old warren of interconnected buildings and passages, not a McMansion or 70s era unit by a main road. I wanted every day to feel full of meaning and excitement and satisfaction, not some monotonous grind of swapping time for money in a miserable office.

How can I put this delicately…it’s not that I should accept all these things I hate and just live a normal life filled with resentment. Instead, it’s actually possible to see that the way things are right now fulfils a lot of people. It isn’t perfect, but it’s better than it was in many ways. Toilets, for example. Modern toilets should inspire endless gratitude and appreciation in us all!

In fact there are so many things about the modern world to appreciate; they vastly outnumber the things to resent. And even if I don’t want to work 9-5 in an office, can’t I at least appreciate that some people do?

Do I really need to be surrounded by peasants for me to be a knight in armour? That’s metaphorical but also literal: there are people around the world who compete in jousting and melee combat with historically accurate weapons and armour, and they get to do it with modern conveniences.

If that doesn’t appeal to me then what does? Maybe that “different era” I longed for was really about a specific feeling I wanted? And maybe that feeling is not about the era or the culture or the clothes people wear or the buildings they live and work in? Maybe that feeling is something accessible right now and the fantasy of a different era was just one way of accessing it?

I can feel that feeling right now, but I don’t know what to call it. Maybe I’ll leave it there, maybe it doesn’t need to be defined or nailed down right this minute. Maybe I can leave it for you to find your own version of this feeling you always longed for, in the form of “another era”.

Letting go 08: making the emotional connection

Before my diet I only felt bad about being overweight when I caught a glimpse of my reflection.

Then I would feel bad, but the rest of the time it wasn’t really on my mind.

And eating? Eating was one of my great pleasures in life. I never felt bad about that!

Joining the dots

It wasn’t until I embarked on my search for a final answer to losing weight that I realised this didn’t add up.

How could I be happy about the way I ate but unhappy about my physical appearance, which was a direct consequence of the way I ate?

This is what led me to see that my body was merely reflecting something about my behaviour. I just hadn’t joined the dots or made that connection before.

I mean the emotional connection: it’s obvious that people diet to lose weight, and over-eating causes weight gain. What I mean by joining the dots is seeing the connection between feeling so bad about my weight, but feeling so good about eating.

Either I shouldn’t feel so bad about my weight, or I shouldn’t feel so good about eating. Something had to give in this emotional dynamic.

The hidden connection

When I feel bad about my circumstances in life, there must be something prior – something I enjoy or feel good about – that sets me up for that suffering.

The painful part of these circumstances is their unwantedness. It’s painful to notice conditions that are not the way I want them to be.

What is it that sets me up for this fall? What is it that feels good at the time, but leads me into situations that feel bad? What is it that feels enjoyable but shouldn’t if I could see the bigger picture?

Assertion

I’m going to call it “assertion” for now. It’s an inner assertion of control, wanting, grasping, or conditionality within me.

It’s as though I’ve put forward a claim or a demand on reality to be a certain way, and this leaves me sensitive to every contrary circumstance and change.

This is the part that doesn’t feel bad, yet sets me up to feel bad.

It’s not about desire or inspiration. Desire is implicit in our very experience of life. Desire is preference. Desire informs our personality and shapes our existence and our whole sense of wanted and unwanted.

Assertion is different. Assertion feels important in the same way that having a stake in something feels important. Assertion is like getting involved because you don’t trust others to do it right.

But like anything we do, it stems from a thought. Here the thought is negative and resistant. It’s the thought that I need to speak up or I’ll be overlooked. It’s the thought that things don’t work out for me so I need to get involved. It’s the thought that I can’t trust or rely on life to go well.

It’s the thought that by sticking my oar in I can steer this whole thing in a better direction.

False premise

These thoughts hinge on a false premise that uninspired effort and action will improve my life and make me feel better.

It’s a change in mode from inspiration, enjoyment and ease, to worry, control, and struggle.

That’s why unwanted circumstances feel like failure or loss. They push against this invisible force I’ve set up within myself, this effort of trying to assert my will on the world.

The big picture

We would all prefer life to unfold with ease. Inner assertion is, like over-eating was, an attempt to feel better that only succeeds in temporary escape by kicking the can down the road a little.

The attitude of taking things into my own hands feels temporarily empowering. But it comes at a cost of trust and faith in the goodness of God and the universe.

If I could trust instead, I wouldn’t need this assertion and control; and since assertion and control don’t work anyway, all I’m giving up is an illusion.

After all, if everything is working toward my good, then what sense does it make to say that some circumstances are wanted and some are unwanted?

That’s why the Abraham-Hicks teachings say that everything has both a wanted and unwanted aspect, depending on where we focus.

Refusing this dynamic

I think the way forward for me is to become aware of whatever lack of trust or faith moves me to assertion and control in the first place; just as I learned to become aware of the negative feelings that used to motivate my escape into over-eating.

All it takes is to decline the false promise of escape, and the whole dynamic will start to lose momentum and wind down.

Let go of the urge to control, and the frustration of unwanted conditions will go too. Stop endorsing the underlying thought of negativity and dissatisfaction, and trust and faith will return.

Making “ordinary” beautiful

I’ve had a prejudice against “ordinary” life for years. Now I’m seeing how that prejudice interferes with my own happiness.

It’s based on unhappy childhood memories and compounded by threads of cultural elitism.

Are you bohemian or bourgeois?

I’d had enough of bourgeois life and attitudes and culture, but bohemian lifestyles didn’t offer much hope of lasting happiness, so I continued in my search holding only to a disdain for everything normal, mundane, and predictable.

My main fear was getting “stuck” in a meaningless existence. But nor could I find my own meaning either.

I’m now married with children, and though we aren’t conventional (whatever that means) I’m still dogged by the fear of being happy with a “meaningless” life.

(It’s okay folks, my wife knows this is my own issue to deal with.)

But how stupid is it to be sitting here afraid of being happy with all the good things in life, just because I’m worried I might be embracing something that resembles a very unhappy period of my life?

Say that out loud again….

I’ve never known it with such clarity but there it is: my teenaged, horribly depressed conviction that feeling miserable was a symptom of a bourgeois existence.

Say that out loud: I’m afraid that if I am happy right now I’ll be miserable. 😂

Momentum of old thoughts

Part of me – some old thoughts – still thinks happiness lies in escaping “ordinary” life.

The rest of me knows that there’s no such thing as ordinary life. There’s just my life, and what I do with it is up to me.

Those old thoughts had some momentum and it was like they kept pushing and running without taking the time for an update.

It’s like these different parts of me had never spoken to each other.

But now it’s coming together, through the grace of finding relief and allowing happiness in bit-by-bit.

I’m seeing now that this old fear and need to “escape” was just mistaken. It wasn’t conditions of life I wanted to escape from, it was misaligned thoughts and the bad feelings that followed.

What is “ordinary”?

I’ve said it before, but ordinary really doesn’t matter. If you look at life from the perspective of creating your reality via your thoughts and feelings, allowing God’s blessings to flow to you, then what does ordinary have to do with anything?

It doesn’t matter what other people do or what is popular or commonplace where you live.

What matters is what you think and how your thoughts and perspectives feel to you. Find the thoughts that feel good, and you are finding your own alignment with God, whether that leaves you loving white picket fences or something totally different.