What can I Do NOW - emotions, scenario, present moment
Yes, you read it well. We are not in our body when thoughts and the emotions that come afterwards overwhelm us.
You probably have lived too at least one time an intense fear, a worry or anger. Are you feeling in your body then? Do you feel your feet? Are you aware about your breath? Do you feel your hands?
Besides the emotions which we can feel in our body (through illness, trembling, which are physical reactions), in that very moment we are not in our body, but we are caught in a mental-emotional bubble.
Even when you feel a pain in the body for example, you are not present to it. The mind is immediately running to other thoughts, which disconnect you from the moment “OMG, what’s with this pain?” Is it bad? Am I dying? I am scared.” Even though this physical reactions are just a signal that we are not in the reality, but in our head.
We enter a vicious circle: experience-thoughts-emotions- thoughts again, other emotions and so on, distracting ourselves from the present, from the solutions, through the past and what happened to us (the story which we identify with), then the future and how tough it is going to be (what bad things are coming, what we are going to lose, etc)…
Their intensity is trying to convince us, and most of the times…it does.
Emotions are real. You can feel them. They are intense. But the emotion is an interpretation to something, which makes it false through the story behind her.
In other words, The Emotion is real. The interpretation of the situation is false. And the interpretation of the situation creates the emotion.
The story behind the emotion is an illusion. An interpretation of some data, situations, contexts, without checking the truth and the real situation which we deal with.
I have a meeting with you. In the middle of it, you realize you are in a hurry and you tell me you have to go, but that I shouldn’t worry, we’ll talk, you are going to call me.
You leave, and I start to think that I definitely did something wrong or that you don’t like me. I start to interpret the whole situation and starting from this thought, I will find others to confirm my hypothesis (yeah, I knew it, I knew he was looking at me like I was some kind of weirdo. When he talked to me his arms were crossed, so he was defensive, He was in a hurry to go home, he couldn’t stand to be around me one more minute, etcetera, you got the idea: we interpret gestures that can confirm the initial thought).
Starting from this thoughts I can feel sad. I can tell myself hundreds of stories about how rejected I feel, that this is my wound, of rejection, I can feel angry that you left in a hurry, etc.
The emotions are real. Anger, rejection, sadness. But are caused by:
1. My interpretations over the situation, interpretations which I confirmed again, finding mental arguments.
2. My fundamental motivation. To be accepted no matter what, wanting a position from which I receive things easily, etc. Otherwise I could enjoy even half an hour in your presence, a short meeting, without so many fears.
The emotions are real. I can feel them. The interpretation of the situation remains just a story instead. And this makes the emotion false too. It’s intensity wants to convince me that I am right, that I am a victim, that is justified to put pressure on yourself, and so on.
The next day you call me and I am still mad, my mind had a lot of time to interpret the situation in every possible way.
And then, while talking to you, I find out that you had diarrhea and that you are embarrassed that you had to go, but your stomach really hurt and that’s why you left in such a hurry.
Voila! Emotions versus reality.
And there are a lot of situations where I don’t get to know the truth, I don’t get to see the whole picture, or you simply don’t tell me that you had diarrhea, or maybe even I get to be rejected by someone, because he had his own reasons. If I hurry to take all of this personal and I believe what my mind tells me, my emotions will be as my story is, even though there’s nothing real in it.
However, we also have a pleasure in all of these emotions, because they confirm our story.
I mean, after I constantly repeated myself that I am afraid of being rejected, part of me is eager to interpret every gesture as a rejection, so that I can identify myself once more and say to myself: “LOOK! Yes, I knew it. Exactly what I can’t stand happens to me all the time.” And like this, some sort of sweetness appears in negative emotions, because even if we don’t feel good, we get the validation of our own story.
I could have chosen an opposite emotion too. The exaltation for example.
I have a meeting with you, we chat for hours and I feel good, I laugh, you compliment me and I start to think that we are a match. Starting from this, here comes a thought: “pfff, what a nice man/woman, so smart, so beautiful and I think he/she likes me too, I can tell it from the way he looks at me. I felt so good with him.” And that initial thought we confirm through other thoughts, proves we search for, everything to tell ourselves the story we wanna live (how he looks, what a tough life he had, how he managed to do everything by himself, what a nice man he is, what he said, what he did).
And the exaltation appears because:
1. I make romantic interpretations with you, even though I just met you at a dinner and
2. I validate myself as a woman, feeling important because you, a God, are going out with me (or the other way, you feel an important man because a woman likes you, etc)
From here results a childish enthusiasm.
After a while, I can see from your actions that you are a jerk, that in important situations you run, that you lie a lot. (IF I can see this after all the stories I told myself). At this point, if I respect the truth, I should make my decisions and leave you. (Again, if I can, after all these lies I kept feeding myself).
„How could you do this to me? When did you change so much? Why does this have to happen to me? Such a jerk! I wish I could make him pay, etcetera”… emotions that want to convince me that it is justified to feel like a victim and eventually, I can even call you to tell you a lot of stuff.
This thoughts appear because you feel a little rumpled and want to keep a position of superiority over the situation. The fact that you went out with a nice woman/man validated you before and you felt important, but now, after you realized you were stupid, you reinvent the whole story, so you can play the victim here. Through victimization you are superior to the one who mocked you. Also the thought that you are a better person appears, you tell yourself you couldn’t have done anything like this.
Instead I can see that my stories are the cause of everything, that my initial interests made me stupid, not the other person. And if I want to get out of this situation, I can’t do it using the same tools (more stories). I need to look the situation in the eyes, with dignity, I need to see the truth! Maybe I should pay more attention and be more respectful for what it is, not for what I’d like the situation to be.
tHIS WHOLE EMOTIONAL carousel is getting stronger every time this thought appears: “hOW CAN I PUT AN END TO ALL OF THIS? How can I control my mind? How do i stop it?”
This is another trick of the mind, through which it tries to stop itself.
Plus, you want to stop your mind only when you don’t like the thoughts and emotions it creates.
You wouldn’t hurry to do the same if the thoughts and emotions would be positive, even though disconnected from the reality, you like them (exaggerated enthusiastic stories), but exactly these kind of thoughts prepare the field for what we call “negative”.
In other words, we like stories. And that wouldn’t be a problem as long as a part of humanity remains present in the story. The problem is that it captures us completely and we don’t see the false anymore. When you get to see a part of what’s false or if you feel disappointed, you quickly want everything to end. You then lost respect and the curiosity for the whole mechanism who brought you here.
If you can, keep a little attention on something else. For example, feel the earth beneath your legs, or feel your hands and massage your ears.
In both situations described above, the question “What can I do now?” would have helped already.
In the first situation, of being rejected… to realize that I don’t even know the whole truth, but I can ask. Maybe even be honest and vulnerable and write you a message, telling that those thoughts have appeared and that I am curious if they are true. And then, the truth would have been revealed more quick.
Or, if I want to go deeply, to think that it’s just one of my needs to be validated and I should consider the fact that even if you don’t like me, people have different tastes, and this tells absolutely nothing about me, but maybe tells something about what you like. I mean it’s not all about me.
In the second situation, it helps to realize that you look like a nice guy, that I am a little bit excited because of this, but that is why I need to be interested to know you better, I mean in the real way. To pay more attention to you, not to the stories in my head.
In order to do so in your daily situations, first you have to admit that whenever something of this high intensity appears… something is not right.
You must observe yourself a little and see some thoughts and how relevant they are, see where your mind wonders, then without stopping it, remember to bring your attention to what is happening right now. Be present in your body.
The question “what can I do now?” is what helps me do what I wrote above. In high intensity situations, bring a little attention on the present, what is concrete and take responsibility.
Sometimes I don’t manage to do it, because thoughts have already steal me and I am too overwhelmed, and I can just sit down, attentive in myself, until it passed. Because it always passed.
The emotions have the “gift” of making one blind and reduce all senses only to the problem or to your obsession. everything narrows and nothing else Remains… only the problematic situation you decorate with a story.
You lose the overall image, break yourself from the truth. Nothing matters and you see nothing of what you have, what is a plus, what really happens, what you can do. It’s just the impression that it will last forever- that’s how emotions catch you.
Don’t try stopping the stories that come, because you will only grow them bigger (be kind to yourself and be a little patient)…you maybe can physically stop yourself where you are and not believe everything that’s in your head.
Take a deep breath, open the window and let your thoughts get out from your head, without forcing them. Don’t get attached to your stories. Don’t speak with them, don’t invite them to a coffee, making the situation harder and more dramatic than it is, feeling guilty or bringing back memories.
· Respect what it is and focus on what you can do now does not mean procrastination or complacement.
· To respect the reality means to pay attention to it and accept it without struggling because you wanted something else.
· In order to pay attention, you must remain present in your body, not in your thoughts.
· You should use your mind and your mind shouldn’t use you… put it to work for you, finding solutions to your problem. This can happen after you observe your thoughts and where they bring you.
· If you at least observe a few thoughts, remember they are only thoughts, without consistence. Let them appear and go with the wind.
· Don’t fight them, because that will only empower them. Just watch your thoughts from outside and be present inside your body (without the interpretation of some possible physical reactions. Be present to the pain also, without resisting and be aware of this temptation to interpret them).
If you are focused on what you can do now, this doesn’t mean you procrastinate some things because “it’s also ok like this”, or that you don’t have to take your future into consideration or some possible consequences.
Just don’t let yourself caught by interpretations of the future, being completely absorbed by your mind, not being present at all in your body.
Example of present reference to the future
I had a lot of thoughts regarding a situation I had to solve until June.
Of course this thoughts come with their intense emotions attached, which want to convince you that… the situation is really bad, that it’s tough, how will I do, how will I manage, feeling worried, stressed, overwhelmed, etc. I don’t think I should say more, you definitely know what I’m talking about. You know what things can appear when you have something important to solve.
When I realized I am assaulted by all these thoughts and moods, the first thing I did was to tell myself ”Good, I can see that this situation preoccupies me. In June I have to solve everything. It is already May… perfect! What can I do now?”
And a few small ideas came of what I can do. And I started to act on them.
Useless, banal, too little.
Please ignore it and never underestimate small steps. Even nano steps. Just do something. Now! How and what you can.
And be aware! There might be situations in which you can do nothing. Then I ask myself what else I can do in that moment. Even if it’s not related with my problem, definitely there are other aspects of my life in which I can do something. Start with those. Just don’t stay in your mind anymore.
Three big tricks of the mind
1. – which happens through the process of thought-emotion-reaction which I described a few pages above. The intensity of unpleasant situations is because of wrong interpretations of data, situations, contexts. All of these try to convince you that you have the right to feel like a victim. That there’s nothing else you can do, you only create stories in your mind.
2. – When you observed the first trick of the mind, you started exercise the outside look of some thoughts and you are paying attention, starting not to believe all the stories you tell yourself. Then solutions appear. Ideas come. Out of nowhere. Then the mind tries one more thing: to convince you that this step is too small, so unimportant, soooo… toooo… for your huge problem. In order to stop you to take action and send you back to trick no 1.
3. – If you get past the first two tricks and don’t dramatize anymore, but you start to feel responsible, asking yourself what you can do, then you don’t underestimate small steps, but you start to act… the mind has one more trick already prepared and hits you with a self-blaming thing. Some thoughts appear. If I was smart enough to do this earlier, what if X will be mad at me and will make me feel guilty, what if… what if…
And when this doesn’t work either, blaming others will work. Because of him I am here. My life was always harder. I always fought hard for what I needed. Why does this happen all the time to me, and so on.
Please remember that this tricks are going to exist forever and are the minds attempt to trick you to remain on stage 1, of being a victim.
Sadly, we lose ourselves too easily in one of these 3 stories, just because we don’t pay attention who speaks to us and how many false stories about us and about others we can sum up.
Why do i think the mind does this?
Because once we’ll be more careful inside ourselves and more responsible, more awake and more alive… this mental part (call it ego if you want) which wants to identify with everything, to create it’s own story and take everything personally, would lose power. And exactly this part in order to survive, wants to convince you that you are a victim, that solutions are too small, that you are guilty, or that someone else is guilty. So you can sleep well and she can be satisfied (while you’re more and more tired and lacking energy).
Some emotions can come after a real interpretation of a situation too
That’s true. The majority of our mental-emotional traffic with it’s attached stories, comes on a fundamental of wrong motivations, confusions or missunderstandings. When my motivation (hidden, so even I can’t see it) is to be the best, the prettiest, the most… then it’s normal that the majority of thoughts and emotions will come as a confirmation (validation, enthusiasm, superiority, comparisons, etcetera) or to attack the image I created about myself (rejection, disappointment, inferiority when I see someone better than me, and so on).
But behind one simple thing, that you don’t like me, stays my demand of being liked and accepted by everybody or by YOU! And it’s about ME! Because if my neighbor would have been rejected, I wouldn’t care. But it is about me. And then the story comes to transform a real fact in a victimization through which I take your NO like a victim and transform it in a rejection. I AM REJECTED. And I start telling myself stories to excuse my victimization. That I have this wound. That as I child I was constantly rejected. That life is hard. At least now I can feel superior because I had a tough life.
It is an emotion which appears after a reality: you are late or you forgot your promise. But if you pay attention inside yourself, you can see thoughts as: “This is lack of respect! He promised and he didn’t honored his word, he definitely doesn’t care,…” Instead of accepting some facts of some people and take your decisions based on facts, you demand that they do as you wish, in your standards of respect and how you think things are working.
There are a lot more situations which I won’t write now, because it’s too long already, but I’ll come back with articles on this subject, with different contexts and shades.
And what do we do with the fear of the future?
You can never control the future!
You cannot face some events from the future or fears about them. BUT, you can face the present, when you choose to be aware and do something now, with the resources you have. Even if it seems too little, I repeat: never underestimate small decisions. And your huge preoccupation for the future shows that right now you are not doing your work.
When you sit down, relaxed, curious, you can find out that beneath all this thoughts there’s more…You are there.
The mind won’t sit, so you have to. With respect. See what you can do now.
And if there’s nothing you can do (yes, I repeat, there are situations in which you can do nothing, your limits are bigger, you don’t have resources anymore, etc) just see HOW you can accept the context, respect the games of life and slowly regain strength. Start with what you can do.
And it’s a must! Be aware what thoughts get through your head and don’t believe them. Don’t automatically take them for granted. Make an exercise from observing your thoughts in banal situations: while waiting in a shop, at the bank, in traffic, while you wash the dishes, when you clean the house, when you get out with your friends (just see how present you are in the moment and how you want to appear to others, the comparisons you make, what thoughts appear). Identify your stories. Observe their heaviness. Observe how hard it is to give up on them and how the thought that you are it appears. Don’t believe everything that goes through your head.
And breathe. Profoundly.