“We do not respond to reality. We respond to our internal representation of reality.”—NLP Presupposition
“Mind precedes everything. All that you are is a result of what you have thought.”—Buddhist PrinciplePeople of great wisdom and insight in both the East and West agree. Our emotional experience has little or nothing to do with external reality. Oh sure—there are plenty of people, events, situations, and injustices that are easy targets for blame. Bad things happen. And while, often people’s lives are the sum total of their choices, often bad things happen to good people through no action or fault of their own. And less dramatically, unpleasant and undeserved things may happen. Only a fool would dispute that. Events occur. That we cannot change. What we do have tremendous choice over is our experience of those events. And yet, take 5 people and have something negative happen to them and they will all react, respond, and characterize it differently—if even slightly. They will have five different emotional experiences.
What is the difference that makes the difference?One of my favorite examples is when someone does not call when they said they would or we expect them to. Or perhaps they are late or a no-show to some meeting or appointment. When we finally hear from them, how often are they blamed for our negative emotional experience? We say things like, “you made me worry”, or “I was about to call the hospital,” or something of that nature. Perhaps we are relieved when we hear form them. Perhaps we are angry. Perhaps we are both in succession. I love that—“you made me worry”. As if the person forced us to fantasize negative things. The responsible thing to say when we were upset by a lack of information is something like, “I was worried because I lacked facility with my interpretations.” Whether we are conscious of them or not, all of our emotions are a result of our internal maps of reality or our internal representations. How emotionally free are you? To answer that answer this question: how well do you accept or respond to unexpected events—and events that violate your expectations? Here is a simple equation to ponder:
X + Y = EWhere X is the event, Y is your interpretation of the event, and E is the resulting emotion. We have little choice over events. We can interpret them any number of ways. And we usually do—however we usually do it in a negative and disempowering way. That would be bad enough, but we do not stop there, do we? No. We then generalize it out and create a belief about ourselves, people, the world, etc. spreading the madness allowing it to be come one of the filters through which we view the world. To make matters even worse, we do not sort events looking for how they are different than our belief; we look for evidence to buttress it so we feel validated and our small ego gets some satisfaction. Our belief then becomes a conviction. Gather enough “evidence” and it becomes simply the way the world is, or people are. That is, it becomes the truth. Sadly, [for them] most people would rather be right than be accurate. That is, they come to conclusions and then sort for evidence that proves that they are “right” often ignoring evidence to the contrary—actually not even noticing it. Far better to look for how your belief may be inaccurate. Better still, to gather evidence and come to a conclusion after all the information is in. Even better still is to avoid creating global beliefs about anything and any one.
Anger and Stress are Immuno-SupressiveThe person who is hurt the most by our lack of facility is our self. There is a greater and greater volume of research to validate the long-held understanding that negative emotions are a drain on your physical resources negatively impacting health and well being; that positive emotions are uplifting and create greater physical health and well being. I recommend The Molecules of Emotion as a good start.
Practical Steps to Emotional Freedom...