Ok – if I had to put the question to you…what is the most perturbing, irritating, potentially grating type of emotional experience you have? I’m not specifically talking about dealing with a problematic situation, person, what-have-you. I’m not talking about dealing with a situation that has emotional weight to it – i.e., a romantic relationship, other interpersonal or familial relationship. Not in real time. That’s not what I’m talking about – not exactly. The situations, as they arise, are problematic…to be sure. What I’m specifically talking about is the aftermath.
Now, I’m not downplaying any existent or ongoing situations, whatever they may be, that have been – to use a blanket term – problematic. They all have their weight and real-time value. What I’m really talking about is the residual effect that many of these situations can have on you. The stuff the lingers. The emotional residue that keeps you thinking about whatever it may be. That is the stuff that’s truly problematic.
Now, let’s take an extreme example. Let’s say you’ve been abused in some way. As an adult, as a child…whatever it may be. There is always trauma associated with any kind of abuse. Never would I try to downplay that. It can often take a great deal of time, and help, to work through that trauma. But what I’m talking about – in terms of you moving forward as a human being – is how the experience sticks with you. To ask a blanket question – whatever the experience is – has it taken away any of what you are at a fundamental level? I mean, really. I know any and all adverse experience can take their toll; change how we view the world, people – affect our self-confidence, self-esteem, etc. But do they really take any of what you truly are away from you?
What I would suggest is that they do so only to the extent that you have assimilated whatever the experience may be into your working, ongoing identity; that you have made the experience part of your ‘self.’ I’m not saying that this does not happen, or that this should not happen, or that there is anything specifically erroneous about the process. All I am saying is that regardless of what you’ve had to go through, who you are, or – better put – what you are remains intact.
Do you consider yourself to be a body…with a mind…various personality traits, etc.? Or, do you consider yourself to be something more? Are you more than your body? More than your combined experiences here? Is there something more about you that carries on, that persists, that is not victim to whatever experiences you may have been affected by? It’s an important question to answer. If you believe yourself to be simply a more complex version of many of the animals that inhabit this planet, then your consequent perspective and self-image is going to reflect that. If you are simply this incarnate version of yourself, then each and every experience you have will simply add to your personal narrative here, your personal, egoic sense of identity.
But this that who you truly are? Is that what you are? You may not have a real answer to those questions. And that’s fine. But what I would suggest to you is this: take some time…some time alone. Quiet yourself down. Use whatever technique you like. Some form of meditative posture can work. Just sit in a comfortable position where you are not going to fall asleep. sit up straight. Focus in on your breathing – in through your nose, our through your mouth. Breath into your lower belly. Start to establish a feeling-sense of yourself there. Just start to tune into a sensation a couple of inches below your belly button and a couple of inches inside. Breath into that area, and release the breath. Easy. Repeat.
Just slow everything down. And, tune into yourself at an inner level. Not what you do, now what you’re worried about, not your present conception of your ‘self.’ Just develop a feeling sense of yourself. Feel whatever sensations arise; whatever you can feel inside.
This is a starting point for getting beyond anything superfluous to you; anything that is not you, anything that is bothersome and can be discarded. This is your opportunity to do that. You are not what you think. You are something much for fundamental.
So, get into that state. Develop a feeling awareness of what you are. Then, go into whatever is bothering you. Feel the emotion associated with that experience. Now, treat whatever you’re feeling as energy – as emotional energy. It is not you. It is not what you are. It is simply residual emotional energy that you carry around in your system. And once you can start to feel it – really just feel it…with as little tension as possible…then it will actually start to dissolve…to disperse. It is not you, so as long as you don’t identify it it will not linger. It is not part of who you are…of what you are…so if you don’t attach your identity to it, it will not linger in your system.