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We are now at the half-way point of the 10 Steps to Bliss. At this point in the journey, we have armed ourselves with the tools to tackle just about anything life throws our way. We can connect with the present moment, experience gratitude, find timelessness, make conscious decisions, and accept impermanence all as part of our natural flow of life. It is our nature to experience these amazing things. Of course, life throws us so many curve balls that we know things won’t always be so smooth. In Step 6 of the 10 Steps to Bliss, I will share the most powerful tool I use to handle these situations and the conscious thought process that enables me to gently guide myself through the ocean of emotions.
Step 6 of the 10 Steps to Bliss – Managing Emotions
For some reason, we seem to have accepted the fact that emotions are too complicated to understand. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Emotions happen for 2 reasons: 1) Your needs are being met. You are happy, joyous, comfortable, relaxed, etc when this is the case. 2) Your needs are not being met. This is when you are sad, mad, anxious, uncomfortable, tense, etc. This is the first big step in learning to manage our emotions. We must first understand their origin, then look at conscious ways to handle the reality of the situation. When our needs are being met, our emotions are positive and we typically don’t experience many problems. Life is good and we are happy. And why wouldn’t we be when our needs are being met? However, when our needs are not being met, we experience the most suffering. Our needs can be anything from something very small to something very large, but all are important to understand if you want to manage your emotions. Many times, it’s the very small needs that we have which cause us to act out or erupt for “no reason”. As soon as you begin to feel a negative emotion, ask yourself “I have a need that is not being met right now. What is it?” – don’t fight the emotion…take a deep breath and just feel it. Pay attention to it. Let that emotion run it’s course through your mind-body, but don’t forget about the question. You should easily find the answer. It may be tough to admit, but you can find it. Once you find it, accept it whatever it is.
For example: You find yourself in a bad mood one day and you’re conscious enough to say to yourself “I have a need that is not being met right now. What is it?” As you ponder this, you realize that you just need some alone time. Maybe you need some peace and quiet. Just by being conscious enough to ask and answer the question, you have just conquered this negative emotion. As soon as you realize the solution, it’s likely that you won’t be in a bad mood anymore! Also, you won’t make the people around you miserable, which has a compounding effect in your favor.
We cannot escape our emotions and we shouldn’t try. The best outlook we can have is to try and understand them. Many times when I’m writing on this blog, my girlfriend will come stand over my shoulder and watch me as I type. To this day, I still get uncomfortable when she does it. However, because I have learned WHY I was feeling that way, (I have a need for privacy when I work), it is now completely tolerable and not a problem whatsoever. I have been able to go beyond just the solution and have arrived at the reality of the situation. The reality is, she means absolutely no harm. She is actually curious about what I’m writing and is trying to be supportive. I would have never got all the way to that reality if it weren’t for the original conscious thought of “I have a need that is not being met right now. What is it?”
The path to managing your emotions looks like this:
1. Experience the emotion. Do not fight it. Take a deep breath and really focus on feeling it.
2. Question the emotion’s origin. “I have a need that is not being met right now. What is it?”
3. Discover the solution and release the emotion.
4. Ask yourself if the need is reasonable.
5. Look at the situation from a detached perspective and discover the reality behind it.
Of course, sometimes our emotions are more intense and happen very quickly. We’ve all felt rushed by someone at the Supermarket who was expressing frustration because we were “in their way” or “taking too long” with something they needed to use or sift through. This type of emotion is very primitive. It can be conquered the same way, but it’s easier for me to think about those emotions for what they really are…300,000,000 years old.
Human beings have 3 brains:
– Reptilian Complex or Reptilian Brain (300 million years old)
– Limbic System or Dog Brain (100 million years old)
– Neocortex or Human Brain (4 million years old)
It is absolutely fascinating that our brains evolved by creating new brains instead of just changing the old one. Anyway, when we experience those fight or flight response emotions, they are from the reptilian brain. Just knowing that helps me manage my fight or flight emotions. One time a guy leaned out of his window driving down the street and yelled a very nasty thing to me as I was walking. I had no idea who he was nor did he know me. Who knows what was going on, but situations like that activate the reptilian brain. Your response is either to run away or fight someone. Being fully conscious, I actually laughed out loud when it happened. I could feel my reptilian brain respond, but I followed this system and embraced the reality of the situation. My emotions were triggered because my safety was threatened. I felt the emotion and released it quickly. Then, I looked at the reality of the situation and it was obvious I was in no danger at all.
Happy Meditating. I hope it helps! 🙂