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Emotional Freedom Part 2: Emotional Choice

[Note to the reader: as this series is comprised of excerpts from a book draft, is it not meant to be complete. Some ideas will be developed and others will be left for a later time. Moreover, some of you who are familiar with my work will wonder why I am not covering a certain concept or other. This is for the same reason. It is my hope that in revealing these excerpts free to you now, that these I.D.E.A.s may begin to make a difference in your life...even now.] *if you have not yet read Part 1: Emotional Imprisonment, you can find it herehere. Once we have taken full responsibility for our emotional life and reactionstaken full responsibility for our emotional life and reactions, the next step is to accept and educate ourselves to the fact that our experience is not some amorphous mass—that it has structure. This is one part education and once educated, one hundred parts exercise and daily practice. It is important to note here that developing facility is not a matter of acquiring this skill or that skill and then you suddenly “have facility”. In technical terms, it is not a binary or digital experience; it is not on or off. It is an analog experience; it is experienced in varying degrees. It is like building a muscle. When building a muscle, you go to the gym or work in some way you have never worked before. At first, you can lift a small amount of weight. After trying this new behavioral pattern, you may be sore. Some people give up at this point. They say, “Oh—this muscle building business is not for me”, and they go back to their old habit patterns. However, for those who continue to work at it, they notice they can handle ever-increasing levels of weight or demonstrate more endurance. They become stronger and are able to handle more. Eventually they lift large amounts of weight with seemingly little effort. So it is with facility with self. To develop the muscle of facility with self, one must first develop the foundational skill of self-observation or self-reflexive awareness. This is not [just] the ability to self-examine—that is to examine one’s past choices or behaviors after gathering feedback and being truthful about one’s character, faults, and achievements. While an important exercise, that is not what we are discussing here. Self-reflexive awareness is about being able to experience the self from a detached place of observation in the moment, moment to moment…even now. We all have this ability, but seldom exercise it, or exercise it poorly…or worse, exercise it to our detriment by using it as a tool to loop on our less desirable behaviors and judge or shame [shame is covered in later installments] ourselves—thereby destroying any possibility of receiving the gift. I have even seen some begin to hate their mind—hate the way they think about something—because they have yet to harness their mind and use it for their own benefit. It is important to do this with evenly hovering awareness—an awareness free from judgments of value and worth. Let us practice together. Even now, as you are sitting at your computer, and you are reading the words on the screen, you can begin to notice that…now…you can imagine the back of your head. And as you experience that, you can notice that… now…you can project your consciousness even further and imagine yourself, now, from across the room. See yourself...now...sitting at the computer “down there” or “over there”. And now, having experienced this, you can begin to practice it daily; observe yourself at the grocery store. Observe yourself on the public transit. Observe yourself while you are talking to someone on the telephone. Observe your physical self. [I do not recommend doing this while driving—in fact, I warn against it]. Now let’s turn that same skill toward our thinking—our mental self—and see how our thinking creates our emotional experiences at the gross level [in later installments we will explore the subtler levels]. Some call this “meta-cognition”, or the ability to think about our thinking. We will explore many ways to think about our thinking in this series. While every emotion has a different dynamic—both inter-personal and intra-personal—associated with it, which we will explore together later, right now we are concerned with the blanket generalization of “negative” emotions. After all, few people, I imagine, are desperate to rid themselves of their joy. No. We are looking to be free from anger, upset, sadness, ill-will, hatred, guilt, shame, depression, and the like. Even though our focus is the base negative emotions, it should be mentioned that it is equally as useful and important to exercise these practices around joy, love, excitement, triumph, pride, and the like. So while I write in this of “negative emotions” many of these principles apply to emotions per se—universally. There are two major variable components to negative emotions. There are other components, but for now, we will limit our discussion to the points where the most immediate choice can be exercised. These two components are: •Interpretations/Evaluations •Extrapolated meanings Have you ever had an event occur, had some interpretation of the event and been inaccurate once the facts or more information was known? Of course. We all have. Someone does not call when they were supposed to. We begin to worry. What are we worried about? Well, what if something happened to them?! And suddenly we begin to imagine all of these negative possibilities—these fantasies—and work ourselves up into a frenzy. When they finally call, we asked them what happened and they tell us their cell phone battery had run out and they did not know our number by heart and could not call from a different phone. Then what do we do? We call them inconsiderate saying they “made us worry”, as if they got inside our heads and made us imagine all of these negative fantasies. So we blame them for our own ignorance, and spread the misery. Madness. And then, after interpreting their actions as “uncaring and inconsiderate” we then extrapolate that out to mean something about them or about the relationship. “They do not really care” about us. “They are an inconsiderate person”. They are XYZ. And now we have created a full-fledged drama through our ignorance and lack of facility. More madness. However, the truth is, we all interepret events through our stage of emotional and egoic development. It can be no other way. The Evolutionary rarely gets into this mess in the first place. And when they do, it is often [not always, but often] very brief. They have already exercised and built the muscle of auto-self-reflexive awareness. They notice the minute they are having an unpleasant emotion through the bodily sensations. They explore the interpretation that is causing the emotion if they do not already know what it is. They then determine whether the known facts support that interpretation, or whether it is a fantasy. If it is a fantasy, or even if it could be just an inaccurate fantasy, they then choose at least three alternative interpretations, making sure at least one is absurdly funny to remind themselves of the silliness of negative fantasies, and choose the most empowering interpretation until the facts are known. Once the facts are known, one must still be cautious to create an empowering meaning. For instance, using our example above: by the cell phone battery being depleted and our friend not being able to communicate with us, we could extrapolate that out to mean that they are unreliable or forgetful to the point of untrustworthiness. Or we could take on the meaning that they provided us with another opportunity to exercise the muscle of facility. They helped us on our path to full emotional freedom and liberation. Knowing this, we could even thank them for that opportunity. Another critical underlying orientation employed above is to seek out assumptions, presuppositions, or beliefs in the language of our extrapolated meanings or characterizations of events and examine it to see if it serves our happiness and thrival, or whether on the other end of the spectrum it supports our cynicism and our pre-rational ego. What do we assume? What do we believe? What do we presuppose? Is it positive and empowering/expansive? Or is it disempowering and limiting/constricting? Remember—it is our own emotional freedom we are after. We are not being gracious for the Other, for to be gracious if it is beyond our level or stage of development will create resentments that will build and eventually explode hurting both parties in unpredictable ways. No. What we are doing is being positively selfish by taking on this empowering meaning. We are avoiding unnecessary negativities in our own bodies. This…is good. While you are angry or bitter or resentful at that other person who “did XYZ to you”, regardless of how heinous, the only person you are truly harming is yourself with these emotions. That does not mean you are not justified in feeling the way you do. You probably are. What it does mean is that while you may be right, by being angry or resentful or bitter you are only harming yourself. Action [justice/rational] may still need to be taken, but the reaction and re-enact-ion [pre-rational looping] does not. But then…this would easily slip this conversation into anger, resentment, guilt, and shame--all experiences we will discuss in Parts 3 and 4.
Emotional Freedom Part 1: Emotional Imprisonment
Development, Transformation, and Evolution

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