Feel Better Now; Pay Later Cheating ourselves of insight BY: Troy Murphy | May 2014
Through mindful attention, we peer into the soul, gaining personal insights, uncovering hidden motivations, learning a little more about the complexity of firing neurons. These insights, discover errors of thought, and properly re-direct attention to weaknesses interfering with long-term intentions. Living is complex. We experience a spectrum of emotions, giving richness to life. The feeling of emotion may excite or depress. Our body reacts to experience with sorrow, anger, guilt, shame, disgust, joy and excitement. Our perception of an experience impacts the emotion. The emotional reaction both activates external responses and internal responses. Others perceive our emotion and react. We feel our emotion and react.
The reaction is not isolated. The chain of reactions may continue to ripple. In personal relationships, we express emotions, our partner responds and then we respond to their response. Our reaction and expression play an intricate role in experience. Our responses to triggers may be beneficial or destructive to long-term purposes. Just as a football player can be tossed from a game for throwing a punch—drifting from his intention to win—we may react violently to an emotion, destroying a relationship we desire to keep.
Because many emotions are discomforting, our bodies demand a response. The emotions purpose is to motivate movement, creating resolution. When we hurt, we seek causes and answers. We pull our hand from the fire because it hurts. We run from a threat, eliminating the fear. Nature programmed the body to reduce discomfort by addressing the trigger. Unfortunately, we at times resolve emotions in non-productive ways. Unpaid bills get shoved into a dark drawer—out of sight, out of mind. We project causes on the wrong target, blaming others when we may be the cause. Sometimes we utilize destructive distractions such as opening another bottle of that cheap wine gifted from aunt Elda.
We easily find relief without attending to underlying problems. Sometimes we need a mental break, recharging depleted strength; there is nothing amiss here. But when used to excess, the escapes become the end and we never address the disrupting problems. The problems remain alive, afflicting our peace and haunting our futures. The problem keeps surfacing, disrupting emotions, and our bodies keep sending the unheeded message that changes must be made.
We need to devise a plan to pay those bills; sit down with our partner and have the difficult discussion; go to the doctor to get the nagging pain evaluated. To resolve the underlying issue, we have to walk face the discomfort.
Many discomforts are simply the consequence of choices; other hurts randomly strike—just bad luck. Life may be unpredictable. We suffer, at times, from causes beyond our control. As we mindfully attend to the complexity, we become adept at recognizing different factions of experience. Recognizing the fine nuances connecting emotions, feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and subsequent consequences; our growing self-knowledge provides more accurate assessments. With a realistic view of cause and effect, we make better choices, notably improving life and limiting painful anxiety.
Without an accurate picture, reality is blunted, handicapping our responses to resolve the issues—so we seek escape. Often our examination of cause stops once we identify a single outside trigger. We finger the rude driver as the culprit for our tantrum; but closer examination would reveal impatience and habitual tardiness. By simply projecting the discomfort on the other driver, we avoid responsibility, ignoring personal behaviors needing adjusting. We claim victimhood, giving power to others that we should retain ourselves.
We naturally manipulate facts, assigning excuses, and justifying behaviors instead of recognizing our power to resolve many of the reoccurring issues in our life. Until we correctly identify the underlying issues, we can’t effectively make the necessary change. Misguided, our intentions will be missed because of our willingness to blame outside events beyond our control. Justification and avoidance alleviate present emotions; these mechanisms of thought work. But the shortcut to momentary peace will not get us to where we want to be--tomorrow.
Our minds are powerful agents. They work behind the curtains of awareness. We’ll never fully understand all the moving pieces of thought and motivation; but we can discover more; garnering new insights, allowing for more realistic labeling of cause. Through insights, we identify personal flaws, temper odd and destructive behaviors, and develop healthy habits that create the peace and success we desire. ~Troy Murphy