If you were ill with a stomach bug and spent the night throwing up and defecating, no matter how bad you felt you would never even think about barfing on your friends would you? I find it very interesting that many of us do the equivalent of this emotionally when we are having a really bad day.
When you have a bug, you try to isolate yourself to make sure you don’t infect other people. However when some of us feel bad emotionally we go looking for people to attack with our troubles. It could be our best friends, siblings, parents or classmates. We tell them every minus idea in our head, things that we hate, that frighten us, our tales of woe. No one can ever understand me! No-one has seen the suffering I’ve seen! Poor me!
When I was young I worried a lot! During these times I had some really dark thoughts that made me feel very bad, pessimistic, nervous and angry. I would think my parents didn’t love me, my friends didn’t like me, and I was not good at anything, therefore I would be a failure in life. My younger brother Peter (Who I love now more than life itself) got the brunt of my feelings. I would barf on him emotionally and beat him up physically because I was immature and didn’t know how else to deal with these emotions.
As I got older I learnt that everyone has good days and bad days. Thoughts and feelings never last! Even the worse ones, if you give it time they will pass. When they do things will look much brighter, lighter and hopeful. In a low state of thinking there is little hope, things look much worse than they really are. These feelings are so strong and seem to be so accurate it is easy to think we are seeing things the way they really are even when we are not.
I remember walking to school in the cold, wet, dark mornings. I would have a knot in my stomach thinking about school. Thinking about the bad smell of the corridor, the dimly lit classrooms, and the people I didn’t like. Thinking about the smell of egg sandwiches that other students had in their bags for lunch. Thinking about the subjects I hated to study, and the tests that seemed pointless and a waste of time. Thinking about the bullies that would be waiting to give me a hard time and wondering how many fights I would get into today? The fear would get stronger with each step I took closer to school. On arriving at school my friend would greet me and ask if I had a tennis ball. We would run off and play handball against the school wall and by lunch time I would be in a totally different zone mentally. The world would be great. I liked everyone and everything. I could deal with whatever came up. I could not understand why I felt so bad, especially in the mornings. ( I now know that I just am not a morning person
.) This went on even after I left school and started work.
Eventually I discovered a huge secret that I will share with you. Do you want to know this secret? I thought so! The thing that gives power to our emotions is how and what we focus on! For example if you start thinking I don’t like school you focus your attention on all the negative things about school, and soon all you can see in front of you is problems about school. Consequently you will feel terrible and won’t want to go anywhere near school. When you do go, you will have a really bad time. Because what you focus on, you attract!
In China they have sign for the yin and yang. It represents the opposites in life, i.e. positive and negative, good and bad, ugly and beautiful, etc. This is a resourceful way to look at life because it keeps it simple. We all are on an emotional rodeo. Life is full of ups and downs.
The yin / yang symbol is a circle. Half is dark the other is light. If you focus on the dark you will feel bad and bad things will happen to you. All you have to do to improve things is to change your focus from what you don’t want or like to what you do want or like. If you focus on the good, this will make you feel better and will help you to get to a better place emotionally and later physically. If you find it difficult to think about something good in your life then imagine the wonderful things you want to be, do and have. At first this may be difficult but with practice is gets easier.
Until next time I wish you love, peace and happiness. Martin Acton sensei