Seeing stress as not being attached to the outside world has completely changed my relationship with it. When I thought my experience of stress was caused by things outside of me, I accepted it. I took it for granted and assumed that I would need things to change on the outside before I could feel better on the inside. When it looks this way, life is hard. Sometimes things aren’t going to change on the outside. Some things are permanent, like the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, not being able to have a biological child.
There are many life circumstances that are challenging and can look like they cause our unhappiness. It is important to be kind to ourselves when we have trouble accepting what is. It is normal to rail at what feels like the unfairness and injustice of life. I am sure you can relate. And even with this human reaction, it is good to know that you can come back to a place of peace and balance within yourself that is independent of whatever your life circumstances are. That place of peace resides within and cannot be damaged or taken away.
Getting caught up in a low mood can be uncomfortable, but it can feel unbearable when we forget it is a temporary state of mind that is coloring how we see everything. I was speaking with a client recently who was in the midst of a low mood and it absolutely looked to him like he was seeing things clearly. He believed his external circumstances in his life were not going to change, and as result was doomed to suffer. And if it looks like our feelings are caused by our circumstances then that absolutely makes sense.
I can relate. I know how it feels when I think my experience is the result of a circumstance. And sometimes I do wallow in my misery. Just the other day, I finished work late and was thinking Angus would have dinner ready. When I went into the house. I found out there was no dinner and Angus was struggling to decide whether or not to take the dog to the vet. I got impatient. In my distorted state of mind I felt like life was out of control. I felt disappointed with Angus’ indecisiveness and the lack of food so I decided to take charge from a feeling of reactivity and resentment. In this state, I grabbed the dog and took him to the vet. I was moody and pouty and drove off in a huff. The only winner in this was our dog because it turns out he had two foxtails up his nose so at least he got those out!
Even though I knew my feelings were not being caused by Angus, I didn’t see it. It still felt like I was at the effect of his behavior. And I got gripped by my thoughts, and my reactive thinking drove my behavior. I am so glad I don’t judge myself as harshly these days when this happens. I wasn’t at my best when I did this, but I don’t judge myself as bad and wrong for my behavior. I was able to see my innocence and that I was doing the best I could.
I used to think the understanding of the Principles could be used to get me out of bad feelings. I thought it was another way I could manage and manipulate myself. There is no freedom in this. Now I see they point to the freedom that comes from understanding that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. The principles explain how the mind works to create our experience, and the freedom comes from knowing there is no harm in any experience we have including feeling like a victim.
Yes, it is wonderful when we see that our external circumstances don’t create our experience. It is powerful to recognize that our feelings come from our thoughts because we know that our thoughts change. That is how thoughts function. We always have the potential for new thought. That is the nature of the mind. It is infinite potential. When I see this, I do not react to my negative emotions. They cause me very little suffering and tend to pass fairly quickly.
And even better, the understanding of the Principles is helpful when I forget all of this and feel like a complete victim to life. I get disappointed or disgruntled. I act impatient and critical. I am irritable. I don’t want to be this way. I don’t like being this way. Yet, sometimes I do get this way. More than I would like, but less than I used to. What I see now that I didn’t see before is that when I am like this I am not a problem to be fixed. I am not damaged and broken. I am simply feeling the effect of my thoughts which is how the mind works. This is normal. Nothing is broken. I don’t need to fix the crappy thoughts that I am having because the mind is designed to settle. Nothing to fix there either.
When I was with my client just listening not trying to change or fix, simply listening without any need for him to be any different in the moment, I saw the natural design at play. When he felt heard without judgment and without my need for him to be any different the anger subsided. The frustration lessened. His mind naturally started to settle because that is what the mind does. I didn’t do anything. He didn’t do anything. It just happened. And as he saw it happening, he felt more hopeful. He felt calmer. He felt more peaceful. Neither one of us did anything to make this happen. It just happened.
This is the natural design of all of us. This is how the mind works. This is the resilience at the heart of each human being. There is no one that does not have the innate capacity to settle. Each one of us has the same potential to awaken to the formless nature of who we are that is practical and profound. It is the source of our fresh thinking that provides us with ordinary feedback that helps us navigate everyday life. It is the source that gives us light bulb flashes of inspiration. It is the source that awakens us with realizations that transform our lives. That is who we are. Our truth is expressed in the most ordinary and extraordinary ways.
Seeing this and understanding this, makes the entire human experience more enjoyable and easier to navigate. It allows your expression in the world to be more graceful and lighthearted while at the same time seeing your performance, productivity, and quality of expression improve. The recognition is the secret sauce, the x-factor, the differentiator that impacts every area of life. It does not erase our personality or our capacity to get reactive, but it definitely seems to smooth the rough edges and makes the experience more enjoyable.
So don’t worry about being a victim and staying enlightened all the time. Be you! Having room for all of who you are is what will take the pressure off and bring out the best in you. It will also impact others and give them permission to be all of who they are so their best is drawn out too.
The consciousness police in our head are not helpful for enjoying life and living it authentically. They crowd out the voice of our own common sense and wisdom. Time to stop putting your best foot forward and just put your foot forward. That is your best. Time to be you in all the magnificent technicolor of what that entails with the depth and the richness of who you are — all of who you are. You don’t need to protect anyone from your unmanaged self because your wild untamed nature always has love at the heart of it. That is who you are. You cannot escape it. You can try to deny it, but it doesn’t change the truth.
We are at our best when we stop managing ourselves and let ourselves be. This is not as easy to do as it might sound. Most people have self-management habits that are hard work, but often invisible. See what it is like to go natural. Take on the experiment of letting yourself be without fixing or changing yourself. Experience what it is like to let your guard down and be you. Even if it is for an hour. Give yourself the taste of freedom to be raw, to be wild, to be you. And let me know how it feels. For me, I feel the separate self, slip away and drop into the ever-changing flow of experience that condenses and evaporates. I see the happy me condense and pass, the sad me condense and dissolve, the serious me come and go, the playful me show up and disappear. That is the flow of life. There is no managing it, but we can put a lot of effort into trying.
Are you willing to stop?
Rohini Ross is excited to present The Soul-Centered Series: Psychology, Spirituality, and the Teachings of Sydney Banks with the original students of Sydney Banks in Santa Monica, CA starting October 2018. She is passionate about helping people wake up to their true nature. She is a transformative coach and trainer, and author of Marriage (The Soul-Centered Series Book 1). She has an international coaching practice helping individuals, couples, and professionals embrace all of who they are so they can experience greater levels of well-being, resiliency, and success. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, watch her Vlogs with her husband, Angus Ross, and subscribe to her weekly blog on her website, www.rohiniross.com.