We all want Happiness. Billions of dollars are spent every year in the search for happiness. Who has the secret? What technique can I use that will relieve me of my suffering? I hate the be the bearer of bad news, but we cannot have happiness without all the other human emotions. As long as you continue to resist the state you are in, you’ll never reach the nirvana you so desperately seek. I’m sure you’ve heard the cliche; that which you resists, persists. It’s more than just a bumper sticker. It’s a universal law. If we are resisting something, anything, our attention is on it. No matter how many affirmations you may repeat in her your head, the resistance and attention is still on what you do not want and energy flows, where focus goes. Let me explain a little bit deeper.
When we are in the search of happiness, attempting to find a way to relieve our suffering, most often the underlying issue is a resistance to our suffering. Of course no one wants to feel suffering, yet all emotions are a part of human existence. And as long as you attempt to banish or run from them without first understanding their purpose, they will continue to follow. By looking to happiness as a relief from suffering, your focus is actually still on the suffering and that is why it persists. The answer lies in the paradox. If you want to be happy, you have to fully accept your suffering. So important to understand here that acceptance does not mean you like it! It is purely acknowledging and not fighting the current reality. So how does one accept their suffering?
- Realize that your thoughts and emotions are not who you are! They are just messengers of what current state of being you are in. Just because you have the thought that you are not enough, does not make it truth. What it is telling you is that your current self esteem is at a low level and could use some nurturing. Let’s say you have this thought in relation to receiving negative feedback on a project. If you were to take the thought as a truth, your emotions, most likely, would be sadness, fear, rejection, worthlessness. That is pretty hard to sit with and the desire would be to escape from it. Maybe with alcohol, or taking your pain out on another by shaming them. Or perhaps you try to escape from your pain in a more positive way and go to the gym, or repeat mantras, “I am enough”. Definitely better than drugs or abusing others, but as long as you don’t take the time to listen to what is underneath this painful message of not enough, it’s not going to go away. It’s kind of like the garbage getting smelly and disgusting, but you mistake the garbage as a truth of who you are and don’t want to experience that. So you drink in the hopes you won’t notice the smell, or you tell yourself that what you are really smelling is beautiful flowers. None of that works because you haven’t accepted the reality that your garbage stinks and needs to be taken out.
- Your emotions are just messengers. They are information feedback into your subconscious. Belief systems you have picked up from others. Let’s be honest. This can be an extremely difficult world to grow up in. Just about everyone struggles with feeling worthy and enough. Do you really think you were born that way? When you look at a baby, you think that baby is stressing about being good enough or worthy? No. So where did you learn that? And if it was picked up from someone else, then it’s not really yours is it? Your emotions let you know when your thoughts and beliefs are in alignment with your authentic self. What do I mean about that? I mean we were all born with worth. You are a gifted unique soul that has meaning and matter to this world. We make the mistake of believing that our worth comes from our effort. When looking at an infant, you can clearly see, a baby needs to do nothing to be worthy other than existing. So when an emotion arises, it’s just feedback to your current belief system. Your boss told you your project needs more work. This triggers a belief system that no matter what you do, you’ll never be enough, because as a child, no matter how well you did in school, your parents focused on what you could do better. So when your boss tells you to put more work into your project, your mind goes to the belief system you have picked up as a child, you believe it to be true and you see your bosses behavior as proof of your belief. OR you realize that what you put out has nothing to do with your worth. Your boss tells you your project needs more work and instead you become curious about how to improve it. You see this opportunity as a growth opportunity to improve your skills and experience. Two very different views to the same experience. Your emotions are just giving you messages about your belief systems.
- Don’t like your beliefs, change them. Instead of running from your unpleasant emotions, if you just spend a little time exploring what they are telling you and where they came from, you can find your unhelpful belief systems and replace them with something you’d prefer. It can sometime be difficult to look at our emotions without judgement. Have you ever noticed how it’s so easy to see what the people around you need to do different to have better lives. Quit their job, dump their partner, stop being so hard on themselves. But when it comes to ourselves, its feels overwhelming and confusing? What helps in looking at ourselves is to create a bit of distance from our emotions, as if they were separate from us. One way of doing this is first name the emotion, anger, sadness etc. Then give it a physical appearance. What would it look like if it was physical. No wrong answer here, just go with the first thing that comes to you. Now that you have separated it from yourself, talk to it. What is its role? What is its purpose? What is it afraid of? Find out all about it. Again, the first answer that comes to you is the right one. You might be very surprised by what you can learn just by getting to know yourself. Once you get a clearer picture on what that emotion is telling you and where you learned it, now you can replace it with a belief that you prefer. So you discover that your parents never praised you on your hard work. They just pointed out how you could improve. Maybe they did this because they thought they were helping, but as a child you took on the belief that you will never be enough. You can thank that part of you that was really attempting to protect you. It though by pushing you, like your parents did, that is how you would get approval. Now that you are an adult, you can clearly see that even though approval feels good, that is not where worth comes from. Feedback from bosses, coworkers, friends and partners, can help us reach our potential. Nobody’s perfect and everyone can benefit from growth. From now on, when you get feedback, you commit to yourself that instead of seeing it as not good enough, it’s about how you can grow and experience even greater things in your life.
It’s not what happens to us in life that is the problem, it is how we perceive it. And perception is completely within our control.