Have you ever been emotionally affected by something that was said or done by someone – a friend, a family member, a random stranger? It could be anything – an innocuous remark, which in hindsight shouldn’t have bothered you at all, or an act that you felt was so thoughtless and hurtful that it drove you into rage or had you crying tears from pain.
When this happens, it is easy to just blame the person for causing the pain or the anger, but the fact is all emotions are generated inside our own minds. No matter what a person does, they cannot control what happens inside your mind. Every emotion is the result of anchors from events in our own past and the way we interpret events. Each of us reacts to the same input in different ways. If this weren’t the case, we would all enjoy the exact same movies, laugh at the exact same jokes, at the exact same time.But that isn’t the case.
We all have our own likes, dislikes, fears and desires.
We are all unique because of the events that shaped us. A person who associates cookies with the love and affection of their grandmother who used to bake them will have a different association to cookies than a person who remembers being yelled at and punished for wanting them. Both these people will react differently to the same offer for a cookie and both will attribute any emotional reaction to the person asking, not to themselves. The first person would feel loved while the second might feel mocked. Neither would realize that what they felt was their own reaction to the question and had nothing to do with the other person. They would say it was the question that was either sweet or mean depending on their perspective.
So assuming that you understand this in theory, that it is all your perspective, and you are the one who causes yourself pain, what does this mean for you? How can you use this to get rid of pain and live a happier and more peaceful life?
Well, here is a simple trick that might help – Assume that everyone in this world (except you) is enlightened.
Assume that no one is trying to hurt you or cause you pain or cause you anger or any other bad emotion. Assume also that each of them is just trying to help you find your triggers so that you can become aware of them and get rid of them. Assume that the only reason you feel pain or other strong emotions is because of your own emotional baggage and clutter. You might be holding onto something from your past or believing something that isn’t necessarily true. You might even be projecting your own motivations or thoughts onto them, and attributing it to them. For example, if you believe you yourself are selfish, you will also assume other people are acting selfishly even if they aren’t necessarily.
The easy guide is, anytime a strong emotion comes along – pay attention. There is something going on. A thought that might not need to be there. A belief that might be inaccurate. Something that if addressed will let you be in control instead of letting the emotions control you.
So from now, any time you feel a trigger of strong emotions because of something someone did or said, you can first become aware of the emotion and then mentally thank them for pointing out the trigger to you.
After that, during a quiet moment of introspection, try and understand what moments in your past or what beliefs and thoughts in your mind make you feel that way about the event. As you dig deeper, and become aware of the clutter in your head, you will find that you get affected by the event less and less. Keep digging until you no longer feel emotionally affected when replaying the event in your mind.
Once you have dug to the root of the emotion and are completely aware of it, you will feel like a load has been lifted off your chest. You won’t need to do anything else. You will find the trigger no longer has any power over you. In the future similar events will just wash over you and instead of a knee jerk emotional reaction, you will be able to just peacefully assess the moment and react calmly and intelligently.
As you continue this practice in your life, with each trigger cleared, you will become a lighter and happier person who no longer feels the need to blame the world. You will find that you stay calm and peaceful more and more, and the world will start feeling like a much more beautiful place.