Stages Of The Emotional Healing Process Part 2
Stage 3 - Does the Emotion or Thought Pattern Serve You?
Once something has been given space, once it is allowed to be exactly as it is, we can look at it more fairly, and see what it is doing for us. Often things feel as if they have a hold over us internally, because we feel that on some level they are helping us. Perhaps they are, perhaps they have, but perhaps now they are no longer needed.
If we identify what a thought or emotion is trying to do for us, then often that leads to a greater sense of lightness, love and compassion for it. It is doing its best, as best it knows how. Lets give an example:
A man has an argument with his boss at work. He comes home, angry and dull, and he can’t seem to stop thinking about what was said, how outrageous and unfair his boss was, what he should have said to his boss, what he wanted to say but didn’t, what he thinks would be good to say now but can't. He comes home, sits, down, and drives himself mad.
Often anything like this, any repetitive emotional loop that harms us, often feels as if it is leading us away from itself, as if to offer a way out of the thinking through more thinking. We seek a way out, an end to the cycle, but we make the cycle stronger.
When the man has had enough, and realises he simply can’t stop thinking about all of this, feeling so angry, he can start by just noticing the force of it, the surge of energy and power that is inside his head, his body, everywhere. He just notices.
Through just noticing, he is already accepting, he does not have to try to accept. He just notices, emptily, without ideas or opinions.
Then ideas and opinions rise up, ideas about how he is feeling vs how he should be feeling, ideas of how he doesn’t want to feel this way at all.
Again, he just notices it all. He notices resistance, the shouts of the mind, without adding any more resistance to it.
Then, he notices the purpose of all of it. He realises that he is sat alone in a room, and that his boss is nowhere to be seen. He realises that all these feelings are doing is sucking his attention into a bad dream, and that they are not reaching out into his life and creating any better situation for him.
And then perhaps the emotions and thoughts flare up in response to this.
"If you don’t think about this you won’t be able to stand up for yourself."
"If you don’t think about this then it will just happen again."
"If you don’t think about this then you won't be prepared next time."
All kinds of justifications for negativity will arise, and again, he notices them. He notices that whether these reasons are true or not, that the intentions, even if fictional, are trying to protect him. They are all based around him being safer in the future, avoiding some kind of pain. Often all of our negative feelings are based around this - they are unconscious attempts to help us avoid pain, death, or something going wrong in the future.
The man breathes a sigh of relief. These energies have the intention of helping him. Whether they are really helping or not is a different matter, but at least they have the intentions of helping.
Things soften a little. There is some space. He continues to notice that despite their justifications and intentions, these negative, painful feelings are not improving his work situation, his boss or his abilities to speak freely. They are just consuming his attention, making himself feel even more stuck in something he doesn’t want to be in.
And then, he realises that he is giving all of his power away to a boss he doesn’t like, to a situation he isn’t fond of. He is inflating it without knowing it, making it stronger in his life. He notices that he is not helping himself though creating pain for himself. He does not tell himself this, he notices it there in the moment.
Then he relaxes a little further, and he has far more space to focus on the kind of boss he would like, or the kind of career that would be ideal for him. And this is the most effective agent for change. Your focus shifts away from what you hate, and into what feels good. Attention is energy. Whatever you feed with attention, grows, and the other things whither away.
With that said, later when he cooks himself a meal, his boss pops back in his head again. The argument comes back. Instead of saying "Oh no! There's that feeling again! It shouldn't be there! I thought I let it go!" he has less expectations of himself and his feelings, and instead the voices and thoughts sound like petulant children, dying energies that are screaming for food. He smiles, and makes his own meal.
This brings up another point about the stages of emotional healing...
Expectations Will Bring You Down
At any stage, if a feeling arises and you have expected yourself to never experience it again, then suddenly this emotion is huge in your life, in your world, in your mind. It seems like a big deal, when really it is nothing.
If we lessened our expectations about what thoughts we should and should not experience, then we wouldn’t even have the time to pay attention to the ones that bring us down or make us uncomfortable. We would naturally be suited towards peace, and less interested in fighting with old disturbances.