This book explains how we normally suppress emotions, why we shouldn’t, and how we can start paying more attention to them to improve the quality of our lives.
Feelings > thoughts
It is not thoughts or facts that are painful but the feelings that accompany them. Thoughts in and of themselves are painless, but not the feelings that underlie them! It is the accumulated pressure of feelings that causes thoughts. One feeling, for instance, can create literally thousands of thoughts over a period of time. Think, for instance, of one painful memory from early life.
We don’t want to face our feelings.
We are desperate to stay unconscious.
Negative feelings arise when we dislike what we see, hear, think, or remember. Our reaction to disliking comes in the form of such feelings as anger, grief, and anxiety. Our usual way of dealing with unpleasant feelings is to suppress them, and because of this, we assume that these feelings are part of our thinking process. This error results because the feelings of dislike are being processed through our thoughts. Suppressing these feelings does not make them disappear. On the contrary, they will re-emerge as negative thoughts.
People are desperate to stay unconscious. We observe how often people flick on the television set the minute they enter a room and then walk around in a dream-like state, constantly being programmed by the data poured into them. People are terrified of facing themselves. They dread even a moment of aloneness. Thus the constant frantic activities: endless socializing, talking, texting, reading, music playing, working, traveling…
External events are just outlets for repressed emotions to express themselves
The rationalizing mind prefers to keep the true causes of emotion out of awareness and blames events or other people for “causing” a feeling and views itself as the helpless innocent victim of external causes. Actually, it’s the opposite. The suppressed and repressed feelings seek an outlet and utilize the events as triggers and excuses to vent themselves. We are like pressure-cookers ready to release steam when the opportunity arises. Our triggers are set and ready to go off.
The real source of “stress” is internal; not external, as people would like to believe. The readiness to react with fear, for instance, depends on how much fear is already present within to be triggered by a stimulus.
Suppression leads to energy depletion
It takes a lot of energy to keep the shadow buried and to suppress our multitude of fears. The result is energy depletion. On the emotional level, it is expressed as an inhibition of the capacity to love.
Letting Go Technique
Letting go involves being aware of a feeling, letting it come up, staying with it, and letting it run its course without wanting to make it different or do anything about it. It means simply to let the feeling be there and to focus on letting out the energy behind it. The first step is to allow yourself to have the feeling without resisting it, venting it, fearing it, condemning it, or moralizing about it.
It means to drop judgment and to see that it is just a feeling. The technique is to be with the feeling and surrender all efforts to modify it in any way. Let go of wanting to resist the feeling. It is resistance that keeps the feeling going. When you give up resisting or trying to modify the feeling, it will shift to the next feeling and be accompanied by a lighter sensation. A feeling that is not resisted will disappear as the energy behind it dissipates.
When letting go, ignore all thoughts. Focus on the feeling itself, not on the thoughts. Thoughts are endless and self-reinforcing, and they only breed more thoughts. Thoughts are merely rationalizations of the mind to try and explain the presence of the feeling.
To be surrendered means that we are willing to relinquish a feeling by allowing ourselves just to experience it and not to change it. Resistance is what keeps it there in the first place.
We surrender a feeling by allowing it be there without condemning, judging, or resisting it. We simply look at it, observe it, and allow it to be felt without trying to modify it. With the willingness to relinquish a feeling, it will run out in due time.
Instead of putting labels and names on feelings, we can simply feel the feelings and let go of the energy behind them. It is not necessary to label a feeling “fear” in order to be aware of its energy and relinquish that energy.
Fear is created by attachment
Attachment creates a dependency, and dependency, because of its nature, intrinsically carries with it a fear of loss.
Fear of other’s opinion (craving approval)
One of the blocks to becoming acquainted with the fears in one’s own mind is the fear of the opinions of others. The wanting of their approval goes on inside of our minds in a constant fantasy. We identify with the opinions of others, including authority figures, and coalesce this in such a way that we hear it as our own opinion of ourselves.
Fear drains energy
Each fear requires additional energy to create a protective device until, finally, all of our energy is drained into our extensive defensive measures.
Can we survive without fear?
We have the unconscious fantasy that fear is keeping us alive; this is because fear is associated with our whole set of survival mechanisms. Can we not care for our bodies because we appreciate and value them, rather than out of fear of disease and dying? Can we not be of service to others in our life out of love, rather than out of fear of losing them? Can we not be polite and courteous to strangers because we care for our fellow human beings, rather than because we fear losing their good opinion of us?
The prideful person is constantly on the defensive because of the vulnerability of inflation and denial. Conversely, the humble person cannot be humiliated for they are immune to vulnerability, having let go of pride. In its place, they have an inner security and self-esteem
When we talk of healthy pride, we are referring to self-esteem, an inner awareness of one’s true value and worth. This inner awareness is different from the energy of pride. Self-awareness of one’s true value is characterized by lack of defensiveness.
False modesty is the pretense of self-diminishment with the longing that others will recognize the accomplishments that one is so proud of, but too proud to brag about openly.
All emotions are connected
All of the negative feelings are essentially forms of fear: fear of loss of esteem by ourselves or others, or fear of not surviving and a loss of security
Possessiveness and Attachement
Possessiveness and attachment occur as a consequence of pride. Attachment is, therefore, a potential cause for suffering, because attachment brings about fear of loss
We can reduce our vulnerability by letting go of the desire to possess; instead of saying “mine,” we can use the word “a.” Not “my” shirt, but “a” shirt. Thus, we will notice that, if we view one of our thoughts as “an opinion” instead of “my opinion,” the feeling tone changes.
Everyone in our life is acting as a mirror
The behavior of others toward us always includes a hidden gift. Even if that behavior appears negative, there is something in it for us. Very often that something appears in the form of a signal to us to become more aware. Let’s say, for example, that somebody calls us “stupid.” Our natural response is one of anger. We can use the energy of that anger consciously: “What is that person asking me to become more aware of?” If we ask ourselves the question, we may come to the realization that we were being self-centered; we were being uncaring; we were failing to acknowledge them; and we were not being conscious and aware of what was going on in the relationship. If we constantly follow this procedure, we will come to the awareness that everyone in our life is acting as a mirror. They are really reflecting back to us what we have failed to acknowledge within ourselves. They are forcing us to look at what needs to be
The more we love, the more we can love. Love is limitless. Love begets love. This is why psychiatrists recommend having a pet. A dog, for example, brings love and expands love in the heart of the owner. Love prolongs life.
This is because love opens the heart. Instead of perception, which perceives, the heart knows. The mind thinks and argues, but the heart knows and continues. So even when people make mistakes, we love them. Thoughts tell us one thing, but the heart tells us something else. The mind can be critical and disagree, but the heart is loving no matter what.
Love to heal
Paradoxically, if we really want to affect other people, then we ought to really love them. Then, their anger at us will boomerang back upon them with no effect upon us! This was the wisdom of the Buddha’s statement in the Dhammapada, “Hate is not conquered by hate. Hate is conquered by love. This is an eternal law.”
The real self
Thoughts are like gold fish in a bowl; the real Self is like the water. The real Self is the space between the thoughts, or more exactly, the field of silent awareness underneath all thoughts.