Emotional flashbacks and Law of Attraction

Emotional flashbacks are strong emotional reactions to thoughts or mental representations/cognitions.

The emotional reaction is a perfect match to the cognitive state, but too often we are unable to put the cognitive state into words. If we can’t put it into words, how can we challenge it?

I woke up this morning feeling bad but not knowing why. That’s typical for emotional flashbacks, and may also imply some degree of dissociation.

My usual approach is to focus on the feeling, remind myself it has nothing to do with current circumstances, and try to remember a time in the past when I felt a similar feeling.

This can be difficult because dissociation is designed to block out or disconnect from such memories.

But if I can start to remember the original circumstances it becomes a lot easier to put into words the thoughts or mental representations that were formed through those experiences.

We all live in the present, but our present is coloured and shaped by the thoughts we formed in past circumstances.

So what can we do but notice the emotional flashbacks, put the corresponding thoughts into words, and then begin the work of finding thoughts that feel better?

If the specific memories are too vague or hard to pin down, try to summarise the feeling in words.

“Life is shit!” Might capture the feeling (while again noting that it has nothing to do with current conditions).

Why might I have strong negative belief like “life is shit” running along in the back of my mind? Well, there are very obvious past circumstances that I know really were shit at the time, and I endured those circumstances for many years. So it makes sense that my bad circumstances throughout my formative years would have also informed my thoughts about life and reality.

My life is pretty good now, but with those thoughts still active I continue to have emotional flashbacks that warp my perspective of the present.

The solution is to update that old painful narrative: my life used to be pretty shit. I was surrounded by pretty awful people, and I took to heart a lot of their negativity. But I don’t interact with that kind of person anymore. I’ve made great progress in letting go of negative beliefs and expectations, and resolving these kinds of emotional flashbacks.

These days I only interact with people I love and appreciate. My worst days now are still better than my best days back then. I understand now how my thoughts and mental representations create my reality. And I know clearer than ever what has brought me to where I am today.

I’m looking forward to even clearer self-knowing and an even more satisfying life ahead. Things keep improving, and I witness the process behind that improvement. I’m daily refining my skills, and this translates directly into feeling better and better across all aspects of life.

Life used to be shit but it’s not anymore, and I know why and how it will continue to improve.

Wu Wei and Law of Attraction

There’s a zone of silence within us that we can step back into, letting go of the hooks and strings that usually pull on us as we react to the conditions of our experience.

“The sage does nothing, but nothing is left undone.”

When you find that mildly detached place within you, it’s as if you know how to respond intuitively to every little thing that does (and doesn’t) require a response.

I used to practice it sparring with friends in martial arts: there the sense of inner detachment immediately released the fear of getting hit or the need to unnecessarily react to punches and kicks that were never a threat.

Later I learned to do it while looking after my kids: freeing me from my own worries and frustrations around crying babies that refuse to sleep, and giving me a kind of sixth sense for what they really needed in the moment.

Well that sounds amazing but in reality I was haphazard and inconsistent in my practice; now with three young ones I’m remembering what I used to do and how well it worked.

To sum it up: inner peace lets us respond with instinctive ease to the flow of events and circumstances around us. 無為 wu wei , translated as “non-action” or “not doing”, implies that when we let go of contrived intentions and actions we find a deeper instinct or intuition that guides us in accordance with the dao.

All this time I thought that I was allowing myself to respond better to objective external reality. But from a Law of Attraction perspective there is no external reality to adapt to.

From the Law of Attraction perspective, those moments of stepping back and letting go were non-resistant. And the intuitive responses that came to me were the first manifestations of the better-feeling conditions flowing to me as a result.

Letting go of resistant thoughts or mental representations allows us to attract conditions and realities that match our innate love and joy and satisfaction.

The crying children become easy to soothe because we are letting go of preconceived resistant thoughts and expectations.

With wu wei we aren’t responding better to reality, we are allowing a better reality to flow to us.

Your thoughts create your reality, so…

I’ve been working on this New Thought/law of attraction stuff for a few years now, and I no longer have any doubt that my thoughts create my reality. So what now?

It took me a while to process lots of negative beliefs about myself and about life; perhaps the biggest challenge came from maladaptive strategies I put in place decades ago.

It also took me time to understand how I differ from the majority of people eliciting advice from teachers like Abraham-Hicks. It took me time to translate their teachings into my language, and appreciate the advantages of things I’ve already worked out and accomplished.

So I’ve cleared a path, and now the teachings are really really simple: just make a practice of thinking thoughts that are better than your usual thoughts.

It’s best to stay general and brief and just reel off thoughts that you know to be good, positive, and aligned with your desires.

For example:

I love my life

I love being me

I love myself

I love how easy my life is

I love how effortless my life is

My life is easy

My life is effortless

My life is fun

My life is enjoyable

My life is complete ease

My life is complete flow

As I write and think these thoughts I start to feel better and better. But I don’t worry about how I feel anymore. I know these are good thoughts that will feel good as I practice them.

I also know I can loosen my resistance and not contradict them with other thoughts.

This is an exercise. I don’t have to argue with myself over how much I do or can or should love my life. I don’t look evidence and ideas to support these thoughts. Because that comes later, comes automatically, with practice.

Just like my diet, I know what works now. If I just think these kinds of thoughts often enough and don’t contradict them with other thoughts, I’ll become these thoughts soon enough.

Likewise, I know that if I eat the right amount of food and don’t overeat, my body weight will come into balance.

The struggle and the obfuscation all lies in our complicated patterns, like eating to escape from bad feelings, or like finding security in playing the victim.

These are the habits that stop us from doing simple things like eating as much as we need, and thinking good thoughts.

My life is easy, if I let it be. But I can’t let it be if I’ve only practiced thoughts of fear and difficulty and despond.

But my life is easy. I love the ease. My whole life is full of ease. I love having such an easy life…

The resistance is in me and you

There’s no resistance in reality, just resistance in me and in you.

Everything in reality is drawn to us by law of attraction.

It couldn’t persist in my reality unless I was attracting it to me.

That goes for everything from physical aches and pains to the tone of relationships, economic conditions, and even the ideas that come to me.

When we blame reality for how we feel we disempower ourselves. Resistance can’t survive in our reality unless it is alive in us.

If we start paying attention to the vibration of everything in our experience, we tune into how the law of attraction is operating.

What are the vibrational frequencies of the objects, people, circumstances and interactions around you? Can you feel them? They are nuanced, multifaceted, and constantly changing; but what you are feeling is a direct indicator of your own vibration.

If you can start tuning into the vibrations of things, asking “what is the vibration of this?” “What vibration am I attracting to me?” then you are no longer activating your own resistance.

Dynamic

As you start feeling the vibration of things in your reality, you are already changing your own vibration, which in turn changes your reality.

Relationships are a great example of this. I might be frustrated by my toddler’s behaviour, and if I try to feel the vibration of her behaviour I see that it matches the frustration and impatience in me.

But the moment I tune into her like that, I’m no longer activating my own vibration of impatience and frustration, and almost immediately I feel a different vibration from her. My openness to vibrational reality and my willingness to take responsibility for what is coming to me releases my resistance and I can suddenly appreciate her in a different light.

What’s actually happened is that my vibration has changed and law of attraction is bringing me an aspect of her that is a match to my new vibration.

Becoming aware of the vibrational feedback law of attraction is bringing to me tunes me into the whole dynamic and simultaneously improves my vibration, thereby allowing me to witness law of attraction in action.

It’s good to understand that we create our reality, but we also need to practice it somehow. Tuning into the vibration of what we are already attracting is a powerful way to release resistance and begin mindfully creating.

Does your happiness seem far away?

Your reality is a reflection of what’s going on inside you – the average of all your thoughts and attitudes.

So if it seems like your happiness is far away: be it relationships, wealth, career or anything; or if it feels like there are weighty obstacles to your desires, these obstacles and this distance are a perfect reflection of the resistance within you.

If you have doubts about a major purchase you might be tempted to make the purchase anyway. But the doubts won’t be resolved by action alone. Instead you’ll find new reflections of doubt in your fresh circumstances.

If you think you can make a relationship happen through effort despite obstacles, know that the obstacles are reflecting resistance already in you. Trying to change the circumstances will just bring the resistance out by another path.

If wealth seems always out of reach it’s not the external distance that’s the problem but the internal resistance in the form of thoughts about wealth, value, economics and so on.

Use the reflection

The good news is that we can use the reflection or manifestation to understand and ease our resistance.

If it seems like there are no jobs for people like me, or if the only jobs for which I am qualified appear soul-destroying in their awfulness, that’s just a reflection of my thoughts about money.

Someone like me doesn’t deserve easy money.

The cost of obtaining money is just too high.

Money requires sacrifice.

Yet I’ve had jobs that were objectively easy, and did I enjoy them? No. I created and focused on aspects of the jobs that kept alive the feeling of sacrifice or struggle.

If the job was easy, I spent every day fearing that I’d be called to account for not accomplishing enough.

I balanced out the easy money by feeling untenable guilt and unworthiness.

Close the gap in yourself

Instead of struggling to change the reflection or manifestation, work on resolving, soothing, or otherwise improving the thoughts you focus on.

Struggle and action will only move things around, they won’t change the underlying cause.

Whatever distance or obstacles appear in your reality, the real gap is not between your present circumstances and your desired outcome; the real gap is between your thoughts and your desires.

Work on closing that gap, simply by finding thoughts that feel better.

And when your thoughts actually change, then you’ll see that the distance doesn’t matter, obstacles don’t mean anything, and new possibilities arise without any effort on your part.

Happiness Day 28

Fear of being positive.

Why are we afraid to be positive? It’s because we don’t want to get our hopes up only to be disappointed.

This fear can set in on all kinds of subjects: money, relationships, housing, jobs, etc.

But this is also a sign that we aren’t applying the principles correctly in these instances. Because genuine positivity is not fearful, nor should it feel like some kind of ploy or plot to improve our circumstances.

How it works

If I want more money and I feel bad about not having enough, how should I address this desire, these thoughts, and negative feelings?

Many people approach law of attraction or positive thinking as a way to “get their stuff”. We take at face value that wanting more money and feeling bad is a “problem” that will be solved by getting more money.

But from the Abraham-Hicks perspective the actual problem here is that I am focusing on something unwanted (not enough money).

Paradoxically, the reality of not having enough money is a symptom of focusing on an unwanted reality, not the cause.

Feel better

Many people are too caught up in their own desperation and try to use these principles to change their circumstances, rather than changing their focus.

But if you can’t change your focus your circumstances won’t change either.

The problem is that thoughts like “I don’t have enough money” feel bad. They feel bad because they conflict with the perspective of our own inner being (God) who is always offering us an abundance of love, appreciation, and blessings.

The whole point of what we prosaically call “positive thinking” is to align ourselves with the perspective of God, our inner being, and enjoy the fruit of that alignment.

How do we do it?

On the subject of money we can do this by paying attention to how we feel, and the thoughts, words, and perspectives we are focused upon.

Thoughts like “I don’t have enough money” or “money is so hard to come by” feel bad. So as a first step, try to find thoughts that feel less bad.

In the past I’ve sometimes felt like I don’t have as much money as I want. It’s seemed like money is not as easy to come by as I would like.

Small adjustments to your words have great implications. Absolutes can be made relative so that instead of “not enough” we say “not as much as I would like”. Negatives are made positive, so “hard” becomes “not as easy”. I’ve also added words that make it less definite: “sometimes” instead of an implied “always”; and I’ve made the statements a matter of how I’ve felt, or how things have seemed, rather than unilateral declarations of objective truth.

From there it is easier to feel a little better:

I would like more money. I would like money to come more easily.

This is infinitely softer and better-feeling than my initial bold insistence on how bad things are.

I would love it if money came to me easily. I would love it if money just came into my experience whenever I wanted it.

I would love to spend time working on my projects. I would love to spend time hiring the people I need, buying the materials I want, paying for the work I want done.

I love the idea of having the best people with the right expertise at my disposal, and the highest quality tools and materials available to me.

I’ve gone off on a good-feeling tangent! And the point is that I changed my focus from thoughts about money that felt bad, to thoughts about money that felt less bad, then better, and finally thoughts that feel good.

This is the way to apply positive-thinking principles: not as a vain attempt to change one’s circumstances in order to feel better — yet plagued by the fear that change will not come; but as a direct, reproducible, and immediately successful change in focus towards better-feeling thoughts.

Happiness Challenge Day 3

Good things happen to me because I feel good.

I’ve hemmed and hawed around the law of attraction for years, and I thought it was due to embarrassment.

I’d cringe at the thought of being one of those people who throws around allusions to quantum physics while avowing that I always find parking spaces right where I want them.

Why? Because I’m an intellectual snob obviously. But the truth is I wasn’t holding back out of embarrassment. To my own surprise it turns out I was holding back because it is profoundly confronting to have no more excuses.

Do I want a better life, or do I want excuses?

The law of attraction is as rigorous as the rules I came up with in my diet journey. It’s so intimidating to accept an uncompromising rule of life that shows us the inevitable outcome of our choices is…inevitable.

If I feel good, good things will happen. Good things happen because I feel good.

That’s a lot tougher than blaming society, my parents, my family, the job market, God, or stinking reality itself.

It’s really tough to feel like a victim and then hear that feeling like a victim is a choice with inevitable consequences of victimhood.

It’s tough to think that I can’t be undisciplined anymore and hide behind uncertainty and doubt.

But it also makes things a lot simpler. Doubt never satisfied anybody in the long run, neither did irresponsible meandering.

I might have cringed with embarrassment at owning the law of attraction, but the real embarrassment lies in shrugging and dithering while people with no intellectual pretensions actually do the work and improve their lives.

The Happiness Challenge has quickly shown up my reluctance to commit authentically to being fully responsible in my life.

Either it works or it doesn’t. It’s up to me to decide. Does being happy make my life better? Or is happiness the end result of life’s vicissitudes?

I’ll let you guys know 😄

The path of happiness

It’s been over a year since I decided to stop being a pessimist.

I finally let go of my embarrassment and intellectual vanity and began reading and listening to the Abraham material by Esther Hicks on how to change your thoughts and learn to feel better.

Esther and her late husband Jerry were the first to use the term “law of attraction” and their material was the inspiration for “The Secret” movie and book. Hence my reluctance to delve into it.

But it turned out that the Abraham material is far deeper, more nuanced, and metaphysically inspired than derivative “law of attraction” material would imply.

Law of attraction and Mysticism

What I like about the Abraham material is that it converges with the key points of the mysticism I’ve studied for years.

It’s not about using new age tricks to try to get rich, but about understanding our real nature, and the spiritual causation at work in our individual lives.

Intentionally avoiding traditional spiritual terminology to avoid preconceptions and emotionally laden ideas, it nonetheless aligns with the core principles of mysticism.

Feeling good matters

The Abraham material urges us to prioritise feeling good, observing that feeling good is the ultimate motivation behind all actions and desires anyway.

We want various things in life because we think we will feel good if we obtain them.

But as with other versions of mysticism, Abraham tells us that it is possible to feel good right now, even though we have not yet obtained our desired ends.

This is possible because our true nature is not limited to the physical body and mind we inhabit. We are connected, united with, or an extension of, a purely nonphysical kind of being that created and continues to create all of physical existence.

In more traditional terms, we are not just a physical being, but we have a greater spiritual self who is (depending on the tradition) identical to, or united with, God the creator.

“Feeling good” is therefore not merely a mental trick based on imagining we have already achieved our desired ends; it is the path toward our inner relationship with the divine being whom the various traditions tell us is love, bliss, and happiness itself.

That life will improve as a result of being happier correlates with the blessings and providence that come with closeness to God.

Seek first the Kingdom, and all these things shall be added unto you.

Just the two of us

Another point of convergence with older forms of mysticism is the idea of two selves.

The Abraham material depicts our physical self as the focal point for our inner being or spiritual self, which is an extension of God.

This is immediately reminiscent of the two selves of the Upanishads – the outer, worldly self and the inner self or Atman, which is identical to Brahman.

You can read about this two-self model from the Upanishads in my posts on two birds in a tree and the Mundaka Upanishad.

The Abraham material encourages us to “align” ourselves with our inner being, with the greater, nonphysical part of us that is the fulfillment of all our desires and the source of all existence.

We know we are in alignment because we feel better, and we can follow that path of relief and better-feeling to ever deeper levels of contentment and satisfaction.

Some forms of mysticism present us with two selves, and encourage us to live through the inner, spiritual self rather than the outer, worldly self.

Other forms of mysticism depict the same journey as a transformation of the one self, dying to the worldly self and being reborn as a spiritual self.

I think it’s the same thing in practice.

Only one thing is necessary

If you’re not familiar with Christian mysticism, it can be as varied and arcane as the Eastern stuff, but ultimately the same dynamic is at play.

Here is Meister Eckhart in full swing:

As surely as the Father in His simple nature bears the Son naturally, just as surely He bears Him in the inmost recesses of the spirit, and this is the inner world. Here God’s ground is my ground and my ground is God’s ground. Here I live from my own as God lives from His own. For the man who has once for an instant looked into this ground, a thousand marks of red minted gold are the same as a brass farthing. Out of this inmost ground, all your works should be wrought without Why.

In the past I interpreted such passages as derogatory of the external world. But that’s because, à la the Abraham material, the world I was creating was a perfect match for the pessimism and resistance already within me.

Isn’t it fitting, then, that I should find the answers I was seeking in the “foolishness” of embarrassing, New Age-sounding, positive-thinking material, instead of in the ancient esoteric tracts of mysticism and philosophy?

From this I have learned to embrace and accept feeling good, to prefer thoughts and perspectives that make me happy, rather than dwelling on ones that feel bad.

Because I was already such a pessimist in the past, I interpreted the various mystics as saying that we must entirely abandon the world, become dead to it, in order to find true happiness within.

I’m no longer a pessimist. I’ve worked hard to change my thoughts and allow myself to feel good, and now it seems obvious that the path to true happiness would be…a happy one!

The benefits of getting sick

I used to hate and dread getting sick. At the first sign of a cold I’d panic and try everything I could think of to fight and resist it.

According to Esther Hicks, being sick is better described as pinching oneself off from well-being. The solution is not to overcome a sickness but to allow well-being to flow.

So this past week when I woke up with a faintly sore throat I did my best to adopt this point of view. I stopped looking at my coughing, congested wife with apprehension and dread in case I catch her sickness. She wasn’t afflicted by an external malady, merely resisting the wellness already available to her.

Likewise, I wasn’t under the threat of contracting some external contagion; my mild symptoms weren’t the beginning of something more severe. They were simply the earliest manifestations of pinching off well-being in myself.

Instead of a week spent fighting against the onslaught of a virus, I took my discomfort as a reminder to allow well-being. It worked.

The first thing I noticed was that allowing well-being broadened my focus. Instead of a narrow focus on fighting the specific discomfort, allowing showed me tension and resistance I was unaware of.

All the times I’ve noticed the onset of symptoms but been unable to counteract them… I’ve even felt the physical tension that precedes a cold, lending support to the idea that a cold is just an acute bout of resistance. But by the time the symptoms emerge it’s extremely difficult to ignore them. I tended to focus on the symptoms, fearing their increase.

This time my symptoms did not progress, and yesterday I realised that I’d been free of symptoms for a few days. I was so focused on allowing well-being that I wasn’t even keeping track of them.

Practising well-being for everything

It’s not just about physical manifestations of resistance. The same rationale applies to everything in life.

Any unwanted circumstance is like the first sign of a runny nose: it means I am pinching off the well-being and ease available to me.

The solution is not to fight to overcome the perceived negatives in our experience, but to allow the well-being to flow more broadly and more deeply.

External circumstances are just a reflection or manifestation of how much we are allowing well-being in the first place. Try to fix them and we’ll end up focusing only on resistance and missing the parts of us that need to let go and expand.

Ironically, once my symptoms disappeared I stopped focusing so much on allowing well-being, and my overall happiness began to decline as other, more subtle forms of resistance crept back in.

But any negative feeling should be treated the same way. It’s not an indication that things “out there” are bad and about to get worse if we don’t do something; it’s a sign that we’re inwardly resisting well-being, happiness, ease, excitement, joy, and love that are already in us.

The importance of looking within

It’s easy to feel resentment when others don’t do their fair share around the house or in the workplace.

And it seems like a big enough task to work through or with that resentment and anger, trying to find a path forward that restores a sense of fairness and balance.

But it’s completely the wrong approach.

We can look to overcome resentment through a course of action, demanding that others change. But the likelihood is that unless we change our perspective, our outlook, and our emotional point of focus, we’ll end up finding or creating a new situation based in resentment or something similar.

Flawed premises

I was raised believing that there are a number of unpleasant tasks in life that just have to get done, and no one really wants to do them.

The best approach to these tasks is to get them out of the way, so you can enjoy your remaining leisure-time unencumbered by worry, or the looming demands of these unwanted but necessary burdens.

But from a positive-thinking perspective, there’s no such thing as a task or situation that is entirely negative. Moreover, there’s no such thing as a persistent number of unpleasant tasks that are so intrinsically unpleasant that one cannot help but get pulled out of alignment when performing them.

For me these beliefs are the basis of resentment towards others who don’t “pull their weight”. I resent them, because their apparent laziness means I’m the one left to complete these unpleasant tasks.

So rather than trying to work out how to overcome my resentment or work cooperatively to share these burdens, my negative feeling is actually a clue or sign that my beliefs are off.

The resentment isn’t really about other people not pulling their weight. That’s just another manifestation of it.

The real resentment is in me, resenting these supposed “necessary but intrinsically unpleasant tasks”.

Knowing what you do want

In this instance I’ve been suffering under a false premise. There is no such thing as a task that is both necessary and so intrinsically unpleasant that I can’t find alignment in it.

What I want therefore is not a fairer share of these nonexistent duties; what I want is to be able to find alignment no matter what the circumstances.

I don’t actually want people around me to change – and if they had changed the way I thought I wanted, they would only have come on board with my own flawed perspective!

That wouldn’t actually have helped me and certainly wouldn’t have helped them.

The irony is that the people I resented probably have a happier attitude to life in these important aspects that I struggle with. Their frustrating behaviour has been exactly the trigger I needed to let go of my own resistance.