Dealing with Emotions

Allow me to share with you today a way to deal with emotions. For the majority’s concern, this is namely about a more healthy way to deal with negative emotions, although it is the same with positive emotions, as people never think in terms of dealing with positive emotions. By no means am I an expert or guru, but this is something I believe and practice and that is why I am sharing with you.

Before going into the description, I categorize below the common ways people act to deal with their emotions. Note that the categories usually happen in combination. After that, I share with you the way I have in mind, and finally I provide an example from my personal experience.

Distraction through External Means
We should all be familiar with this category, whether we know someone or we have done it ourselves. Things like drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, or even food/chocolate… People use these external means to block out the mind and to numb the senses in order to avoid truly feeling emotions. It becomes abuse because the effect of is only temporary, which means they will have to do them incessantly to keep the effect.

Dramatization
This is another way for people to distract themselves from the real emotions, by blowing it out of proportion. “The end is here!” “Everyone hates me!” Is that really true? I doubt it. While the person focuses on those dramaticized thoughts, he does not have to deal with the emotions, and hence, another form of distraction.

Being in Denial
Somewhere in the continuum of human race, the notion that people should not have negative emotions was thought up. The ones who believe this notion refuses to acknowledge the fact when they are feeling emotion such as anger, hatred, jealousy, etc. Those are label as “bad”. It’s not right to have them. And they will relentlessly ignore them and probably claim that everything’s fine and they are happy, optimistic, kind, etc.

Obsession with the Emotion
This is the scenario where the person allows the emotion to completely take over. He loses self-control and most of his logical ability. He fixates on the emotion so much so that all his actions are purely as a result of that emotion. It is very difficult to talk sense into such people but easier to just try to calm them down first, even if just physically.

Substitution
Instead of feeling disappointed, people switch to anger. Instead of feeling sadness, people switch to anger. Instead of feeling love, people switch to hatred, at the end of relationships. It’s like playing musical chair with emotions.

When people react to their emotions in terms of the categories above, more negativity and harm are generated. My hypothesis on why people have so many problems due to emotions lies in the fact that they never deal with the emotions at the root when they happen. They do not fully experience their emotions, especially the negative ones. Therefore, they keep accumulating and eventually lead to detrimental effect, which can take years to happen and then years to resolve. It is similar to how people handle their physical body. They often do not maintain the body where they do not exercise and not have balanced diet until illness occurs, but this is another topic. Moving on to what I think people can do to deal with emotions.

Be Okay with Emotions
The first and foremost thing to understand is that it is okay to have emotions. Any types of emotion. Human beings are emotional creatures. It is part of being humans. You feel emotions. I feel emotions. Every single day. Lots of time during a day. As long as we are still breathing, emotions will happen. So it is okay to feel sadness, jealousy, hatred, anger, disappointment, frustration… Just as it is okay to feel happy, satisfied, excitement, passion, love… You need to understand that they are your emotions. Your emotions are not you. It is a big step if you can simply be aware that you have the emotions when you do. You want to fully feel your emotions as they happen.

Identify the Thoughts
Now that you know it is okay to feel emotions. You can be more comfortable with them. When you are sad, you feel sad. Just as when you are happy, you feel happy. This is about simply being with your emotions. When you are okay with having emotions, you can be aware of them. Once you are aware of what you are feeling, you can begin to understand what are the thoughts associated with it. Why do I feel sad? Why do I feel anger? The answers to those questions are our thoughts, which are the true culprits of the pain those emotions are causing you. These thoughts exist together with your emotions. Emotions are created from thoughts. And more thoughts can intensify emotions. Now that you know you have these thoughts, know that it is also okay for thoughts to exist also.

So the first two steps involve identifying the emotions and thoughts that exist within you. By no means are these two steps small or easy. It is very uncomfortable to do at first, but like everything else, it comes with practice. It may be so hard at first that you will want to run away and go back to the usual routine of distraction, dramatization, denial, obsession, or subsitution. We all do it. So let me say that this is also okay, but try to be aware of the behavior and if you can, return to identifying what are the emotions and thoughts. If you cannot, just try to stay calm and not act rashly for awhile. Then try again.

Check with Priorities
Now you are aware of the thoughts that you have. These thoughts are at the heart of why you are feeling the emotions. Remember I talked about priorities before. It is beneficial to line up those thoughts with your priorities, your values in life. The thoughts you are having, are they aligned with the priorities in life? If they don’t pertain, maybe they are not so important after all. Have you done your best in terms of your priorities in the event that leads you to feel those emotions? If you have done so, maybe it is not so bad after all because you did not abandon your values. If you haven’t, it’s also okay, because we all make mistakes. The important thing is to learn from it and do your best next time.

This is not an easy process, and it doesn’t make emotions and problems go away immediately. However, I do believe by following this process, you can face your emotions with a sense of peace and not to do anything destrustive to yourself and others. This is a process of fully experiencing your emotions and thoughts. I am also confident that you will “handle” the emotions in a shorter time frame instead of having them linger for ages. The more you practice experiencing emotion as described, the quicker it gets to free yourself from the burden of emotion.

I have briefly mentioned that I experienced a break up in a recent post. I will use what I have gone through as an example. Break up is never easy, as for you, as for me. As long as one is truly devoting one’s self to a relationship, the end is never easy. Definitely I was sad. Besides that, I also somewhat confused and then a bit angry. I think that is normal for most people :)

My Sadness
The fact is that I only enter into a relationship when I genuinely like the person a lot. I would like to spend time with her and have fun together, go through experience with her and be able to support each other through good and bad time. I sincerely care for this person, and hope that I can be there to make her and her days better. But in the end, she made the decision to leave. All these things combined together are the thoughts that made me sad. I still feel some sadness, but it is okay. During the time we are together, I did my best being the person I truly am and giving in the way I believe in. “I truly did my best yet it still ended”, that maybe another thought that is causing me sadness. That doesn’t matter because it is okay to have sadness. On the flip side, it can be, “I truly did my best and I have no regret.”

My Confusion
As for the true reason behind the end of relationship, I probably will never find out, which causes confusion. Being human and being me, I am curious. I also wonder what I could have or should not have done. However, the reason behind and all the wondering mean nothing. Does it really matter if it is really due to circumstances in life, or if she has found someone else? The bottom line is that she is certain about the choice. By staying calm during the conversation, that is exactly what I endeavored to ascertain with her. She has made up her mind. She has made the choice to walk a different path, and I will just have to be okay with it. And I am okay with it.

My Anger
As for anger…I am not quite sure, but probably for all the reasons that left me sad and confused. And also perhaps I was looking forward to spend our holidays together, decorating Christmas tree. A happy scene only to be decimated. A bit of anger was there, but it is now gone. After all, there is not that much to be angry about once I can be okay with my sadness and confusion. I should be thankful that we had a chance to share a part of our lives together.

In a nutshell, the key point here is to be aware and to be okay with your emotions, truly experiencing the emotion when it happens. Staying calm and just feeling it, know that it is there. It is okay for it to be there. Once you can do that, you can move on to seeing your thoughts. If you can do something about those thoughts, then do something about them. If you cannot, then there is nothing to do and no reason to have those thoughts and therefore no reason to have those emotions. And if there is emotion remaining still, just be okay and experience them. And repeat the process.

It will take time to develop this way of dealing with emotion. However, there is definitely this peace you feel by doing so, which will allow you do deal with more emotions that happen in the moments in life.

On a final note, this post has a lot to do with awareness, so if you enjoy reading this, feel free to check out my post on Awareness and Zen.

Originally posted 2007-12-21 16:54:20. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Happiness is Like Water

One of the most fundamental attitude toward life that we seem to agree on today is the pursuit of happiness. On this topic, I simply want to present an analogy here.

Happiness is like water to us.

Yes, we need water. However…

If we try to grab and hold on to water, it simply flow out of the hand.

If we try to preserve a batch of water in container forever, it will become stale water — dirty and stinky.

If we retain all the water we drink in our body and never let out, our bladders will get bloated and eventually we will get sick.

If we drink way too much water, we will also get sick and may even die.

If we hoard water, it does almost no good as we can only drink so much at once.

If we poke, kick, and strike water to try to figure out what it exactly is, it only gets murkier.

So is water. So is happiness.

Know that sensation when you find when you are most thirsty.

Know the taste of water across the tongue.

Know the moment when water flows into the mouth and down into stomach and your thirst is fulfilled.

Know the non-sensation of drinking more water once you are fulfilled.

Know the feeling when you drink too much and you are bloated.

Finally, we always perceive peace, beauty and vitality in water that flows free.

Now if we try to control how water would flow… Well, I will let you finish your own thought now.

Originally posted 2010-01-29 00:47:12. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Earth Day — 1 out of 365 Days to Save Earth

earth_half_destroyed.jpgToday is supposedly Earth Day, but I am not a big fan of these specially designated days. Shall I mention Hallmark holidays?

This does not mean that I do not understand the meanings of them or that I do not celebrate special occassions. I love to have the opportunity to spend time with friends on birthdays and holidays. I also do my best to act in ways to show people how much I care and appreciate them.

Raising the awareness of the population to care for Earth is of course a positive thing. The reason I do not like these “special days” is because they show such fakeness. Though I do not want to generalize too much, but what generally happens inside and outside of the special days during the year is…

We spend 1 day saving Earth and the other 364 days not caring, if not unearthing (destroying), it.
We spend 1 day showing our love and making the other person feel important and the other 364 days overlooking him or her.
We spend 1 day being thankful to family and friends and the other 364 ignoring, if not being angry and frustrated, at each other.

The list of holidays goes on.

This kind of manner resembles that of people display for their new year resolution. Let alone how we spend a crap load of money on gifts on people while the most important thing is having and building the connection among us. It is something called relationship. Gifts are nice, and especially nice if they are thoughtful, but they are still not THE point. Relationship does not build on gifts.

Having special days are fine, but do not forget to do the same in the other 364 days in the year.

Originally posted 2008-04-23 17:41:25. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Impermanence of Things

Buddhism has a lot of good suggestions for us to conduct our life. Now, I would not call myself a Buddhist, but just that I learned and found many of their concepts practical.

Impermanence is one of the pillar concept in Buddhism.

Why do we worry? Because we expect things to be as we think they should be. And often, we expect things to be the same as they are now, that they will last forever (namely, the good things). Intuitively, we know that cannot be if we stop denying it. When we deny impermanence, we make thousands of plans and let worry take over our life.

The next moment can never be the same as this moment. Things are always changing, whether they are visible to the eyes (or scientific means) or not. Not just the outer world, even our cells are constantly dying and being remade every second.

Yet, we seem to think that we are changing only when things change according to our measures and parameters. It’s as if we consider time flows because the clocks we make is ticking. Rather than the other way around.

Change is inevitable. Therefore, the notion of “we need to change” is off the point. Rather, the question we should ask is, “How do we want to change?”, both on a personal level and on a wider, cultural, societal level.

Another good question to ask now is, “Are we trying to change the outter world just so that we don’t have to change?” I am suggesting that, could some of what we are doing now be a demonstration of resistance to change masqueraded as desire to change?

“Change the world around us for us, but we are not going to change.”

Food for thought.

Here’s the practicality of understanding a bit about impermanence… Just as the good things will come and go, like water brushing by a rock in a stream, so do the bad things come and go. With this realization, we can fully enjoy the moment with good things and not hold on, and we can learn from the moment with bad things and let go. As such, we can take things lightly and enjoy and be in the moments of life.

Ultimately on an individual level, the inevitable impermanence is death. Thus, it really sucks that death has become such a taboo topic in modern days. It is a good thing to contemplate about death. “How do I want to die?” Meaning, and the key is, “What inner state do I want to have when I am leaving this world?” When one is about to die, that’s probably the last and only thing that matters. So…

How do we change to achieve such the inner state we want to be in before death?

Whatever the answer you find, it is a good idea that whatever the answer is, is what dictates your action.

For me, it is peace. Can I find peace underlying everything that I do?

What do you think about impermanence?
What is your answer?

Originally posted 2009-08-17 00:28:55. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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