3P Random Reflections Blog
Several years ago, I remember talking about the nature of thought with a guest at the homeless shelter.
I was pointing to the concept of being aware that thought/feeling can be like the "check engine" warning light in our car. If
any thinking/feeling comes with a bad feeling, it's a potential warning light to us that our state of mind and our thoughts are (in that moment) not that clear or helpful to us... and if we somehow become aware of that, we may get some common sense and clearer
thinking in how to best navigate our response to that momentary experience.
If the situation is not time sensitive, we may get the idea to walk away so we can calm down and get a clearer head, or we may get the sudden idea to not take
the situation personally, or we may see something new we haven't thought of before, or we may get any one of a million other new thoughts that help us navigate the situation with a bit more grace, and with a bit less full-out emotion.
I continued to chat with this guest at the homeless shelter, I was sharing with him how the inevitable appearance of any insecure thought (including anger) NEVER feels good.
He disagreed with me and pointed out that he often feels great
when he lashes out in anger, such as, in his words, when he "beats the crap out of someone".
From my own perspective, anger could never be a good/happy type of feeling, so I was a bit confused by what he was saying. But after a moment
of reflection, I suddenly realized what he was pointing to.
Without any understanding of how his feelings were being created (what they are, what they mean, or what to do with them) he would innocently and unknowingly manage the discomfort
of some of his bad feelings by avoiding them, or numbing them, or pushing them down, or directing them outward in some way.
And so, from his perspective, whenever someone would appear to be irritating him, he would blame his feelings
of irritation on them. His pent up anger would then erupt physically toward whomever he blamed, and the release (the endorphin rush and the temporary removal of the believed source of his irritation) would make him feel great... well, at least for the moment
And so it wasn't really all of the "leading-up-bad-feelings" of anger that felt good to him... as much as it was the release of it all.
For him, it was a frequent habit of...
simultaneously think that the bad feeling is due to "that person or that circumstance"
...Then if the feeling is strong enough in the moment, lash out at the identified target in some way
...And feel a sense of temporary relief (some control
in a situation that appears out of control)
Like many people whom I meet at the shelter, he likely innocently and unknowingly picked up this coping habit from a family member who coped with their own uncomfortable feelings in the same
way... possibly even lashing out habitually toward him.
Unfortunately, his erupting behaviour became a sort of unconscious habit (addiction) for him. The disadvantage of his own lash-out-to-feel-better coping behaviour was that he would
often pay the consequences of damaged relationships, injuries from people fighting back, others being afraid of him, getting fired from jobs, and at times getting arrested.
And imagine how confusing all of this must have been to him, especially
when he would inevitably get back to a moment of calm and clarity, and potentially begin to feel some shame or regret for what he'd done. "What the F is the matter with me? Why can't I control my anger?" And perhaps he even came to the conclusion, "Well, this
is just the way I am. I'm all F'd up."
For some, they will innocently and unknowingly add this additional layer of belief (habit) as a way to understand or cope with their shame and regret... they'll come up with the made up assumption
that their angry behaviour is a part of who they permanently are.
And in the face of being unable to find a way to control their anger (and shame and regret), they also cope by wearing their angry behaviour as a badge of honour.
They become the tough guy. "Don't F with me!" "I'm always right, no matter what. You're always wrong!" "The world is a shit place, and I'm a F-ing warrior!"
I don't remember if I saw this man again, but we had a lovely and interesting
conversation, and like with many others, I learned so much from what he shared. How beautiful that someone with moments of such anger, could also be willing to have moments like this type of calm and loving conversation. I wonder if he ever noticed the significance
Several years later, what's been interesting for me to explore and discover, is in how the "feeling of anger itself", and not just the release of it, can ALSO be a way of coping... anger itself can sort of "feel good" in some
It's much like some people who cut themselves... the bad feeling of the pain of physical harm can temporarily distract themselves from the pain of their emotional suffering. It's an immediate distraction from the emotional pain for
which they have no sense of what it is, nor how to handle it, nor how to experience it any differently. The cutting can actually temporarily feel "good" because it's a distraction from something that feels worse. In times of desperation (when unable to come
up with any other solution), it's "the lesser of two evils".
And so it occurs to me that any of the habitual anger that any of us feel, can sometimes be a bit like that too... we can innocently and unknowingly and habitually use our "anger
at" others or situations, as a distraction to avoid feelings within ourselves that we don't currently understand and don't know how to cope with. Our "anger at" can be a distraction... the lesser of two evils... something specific that we can point at and
identify, instead of something that feels bad within us, but offers nothing we can logically figure out, or identify or deal with.
I can't really know if any of what I have shared here is completely true. After all, in this world of form,
the possibilities and explanations are infinite.
But, as someone who occasionally gets "angry at"... whether it's the self-serving insecurity of some politicians, or the unnecessary greed of some people with more money than they
could ever spend, or the righteous judgment of those with more who condemn and fear those with less, or the (fill in blank here with my latest target)... I wonder if my angry moments could just be a coping habit. And I wonder what it would be like to navigate
life without this habit at all?
Hmmmmmmm... I think I'll reflect on that.
My husband's mom is turning 90 this year, and although her walking and endurance have slowed down a bit, she mostly runs circles around us.
She lives on her own, is still driving, and keeps herself busy with a variety of activities
for fitness, personal interests, and for the care and support of others (mostly neighbours and relatives and friends who occasionally need company or help).
She loves to chat and easily falls into conversations with strangers. Her demeanour
is quite pleasant, happy, and likeable. She smiles and laughs a lot, and holds a self-deprecating humour.
She used to have an older sister who would often be mean to her, but she never got very upset about it. She just felt sorry for her,
realizing that her sister acted that way because she was so unhappy. She somehow already knew at her young age that her sister was suffering, and that hurt people hurt people.
When she was young, she would occasionally be disciplined by
her father for making some mistake, but she could never understand why. What was the point of spanking her for making a mistake or doing something she did in innocence? How did hitting her have anything to do with whatever happened or any lesson to be learned?
It just didn't make any sense. At her young age, she somehow knew to question rather than to look for blame and hold onto it tightly... She was somehow aware of the innocence of her own behaviours and that of others.
In her marriage, and
in the later years of being the long time caregiver for her husband who has now passed, she managed a LOT of challenges with a great deal of acceptance and patience. She was somehow aware that grasping tightly onto her thoughts and feelings of frustration
didn't make her feel better and didn't help her.
Ultimately, since her youth, she's understood not to take any behaviours or thinking so personally or seriously.
She still gets affected here and there, and some people's
behaviours appear in her thinking more than others (including sometimes her own), and she has opinions, and she would prefer that some others would change in various ways, and as a consequence she sometimes attempts to pass on her wisdom, but she doesn't tend
to keep digging in, and for the most part, she doesn't hang on to much. She says her piece and shortly after that, moves forward to whatever next occupies her attention.
There's also a bit of what I call "the juju" in her... an uncanny
ability to sense things before they happen.
And she has always slept very well. She simply lies down, closes her eyes, and as she has explained to us, "watches the movies going on behind her eyeballs", and falls asleep.
About a year ago, with some sense she was getting closer to the limits of the human body, she made arrangements to start phoning my husband every morning for a quick call to let him know she's still alive. That way, if something's happened, she won't be
left there for days! It's usually not much more than a quick exchange of "I love yous" and arrangements of plans for our weekly meet-up for breakfast out somewhere. It's very cute.
When I first met my husband's Mom, I didn't have a lot
of thought or awareness about her. I knew she was pleasant, and friendly, and she laughed at my jokes, so it was simply easy to be in her company. I didn't as yet see or understand the wisdom with which she navigated life.
But now I'm
much more aware of it, simply because I've realized more of what wisdom truly is, and how it shows up in others.
She has her own personal craziness, just like the rest of us, but I can see now that she holds an underlying "knowing" that
she has retained since she was a little kid... an internal common sense that she keeps falling back into (and listens to) when she gets lost, and from which arises her many moments of better nature.
And it isn't something that she's discovered,
or learned how to do, or practices applying, it's just something she's always KNOWN her whole life. She's always had some sense of which direction to lean back into, no matter what... she knows where happiness is.
And it hasn't given her
riches, or awards, or the typical "successes" of life, or even much recognition by the masses, but it has given her internal peace. She walks through life with a grace that many wouldn't necessarily recognize, unless perhaps they've somehow recognized it within
themselves as well.
The force is strong with this one.
The photo here is on one of our recent weekly breakfasts with my husband's Mom, my husband, and me. My husband especially likes this photo because it's a reminder
(for me) of what a gift he is to me. 😂 LOL!
For years and years and years I set them because so many of the apparently successful human beings told me that goals were the secret to their success. And if they didn't say it outright, I somehow deduced that my own perceived lack of success (or lack
of enough success) was because I didn't seem to have any clear goals, or I didn't have the right ones, or I didn't work hard enough toward achieving the ones I made up because I felt I had to.
Unfortunately, if and when I ever achieved
any formalized goals, I NEVER NOTICED. Once done they were mostly "out of sight, out of mind". Once done, the completion never came with a feeling of significance. Once done, I often minimized the achievement... done, but not done good enough, so therefore
not really done.
Here's what else I didn't notice...
I DIDN'T NOTICE that I had a completely innocent and mostly hidden belief that success (achievement of goals) meant happiness, and if I wasn't happy then it must
be because I wasn't successful enough yet (I hadn't achieved all the right goals yet)... I didn't have the right job, I didn't have the right house, I didn't have the right relationships, I didn't look the right way, I hadn't travelled to enough places, I
hadn't experienced enough adventures, I hadn't read enough books, I hadn't learned enough skills, I hadn't spent enough time outdoors... the list was endless.
I DIDN'T NOTICE that I did all sorts of things that I wanted to do, without
setting any goals. I just wanted to do them and did them. There wasn't a lot of thinking or formal structure or planning, even when some planning was involved. There was simply doing, and navigating as I went along...
I did, I got, I learned,
I adventured, and I spent time, all the while completely missing the significance of the fact that just the verb (every speck of being and doing that inevitably comes with being alive) is ALWAYS enough.
Instead, I was unknowingly assigning
random values to whatever came after the verb (whatever action was done or whatever goal was completed). I even assigned values to the verbs themselves... such as that doing was better than not doing.
But just how is it that I decided
that the verb of "doing depression" on and off over multiple years was any less a measure of success than the verb of "doing stuff" to become an astronaut?
How did I decide that the verb of "being able to laugh out loud at a joke", was
any less a measure of success than the verb of "being able to create a gourmet meal"?
How did I decide that the verb of "sneezing" was any less than the verb of "skiing"?
How is it that I completely missed the significance
of the incredible richness of the verb of JUST BEING ALIVE, in whatever form it happens to arise in any moment... with all the being and doing that happens spontaneously and continually, whether I appear to make a goal out of it or not, or whether I happen
to give it any value in the moment or not?
And what the heck is success anyway? And why did I even make it into a thing?
My husband had an insight a few years ago, that "we are the nerve endings of universal consciousness"...
and with some sense of the truth and wonder and common sense of that for myself, that insight has offered me ongoing reflection that keeps presenting new little gifts of perspective...
Today it reminds me that any apparent good or big
experience is just as rich in learning and success and growth and simple "aliveness", as any apparent bad or small experience. All experience is equal. All experience is rich. And ALL is experience.
I'm sure I'll forget this the next time
I stub my toe, or the next time my insecure thought tells me I need a goal to feel better (instead of the secure thought that having a particular goal to work toward might be kinda fun). In either case I will immediately assign values and suffer. But even
the suffering itself offers value when I'm eventually open to seeing it.
Perhaps when any of this inevitably happens, you can sweetly, and kindly, and compassionately, and lovingly, remind me of the free and miraculous abundance of the
experience of life itself, in whatever form it arises!
May I thank you all for your love, and may I wish you all, much abundance for 2020 and beyond!
With Much Love and Laughter,
My ego is an incredibly helpful teacher... the feelings of tightness and seriousness found in my disappointment, anger, frustration, worry, judgment, inadequacy, regret, depression, righteousness, fear (the list is endless), tell me that I'm currently
hanging onto some story about myself or the world that is limiting my perspective, even though I may have no idea what that internal story is.
And so my ego isn't ever telling me any truth about who I am or what I
am or what's right or wrong... it's only ever a very helpful barometer (my internal guru and constant companion) that indicates my internal weather in the moment... am I chronically serious and closed and further away from the experience of potential truth,
or am I lightheartedly clear and open and closer to the experience of potential truth?
And I don't have to do anything with my internal weather... I don't have to act out on it or change it or figure
it out... just the awareness that my teacher is only telling me "where I am" (instead of "who I am" or "what's going on") is already incredibly helpful. Now... if I'll only listen. 😉
Today I was reflecting on the fears that tend to arise every time I hear of a law or regulation that appears to victimize the powerless, whether people (me included) or nature. I'm guessing that this is something that everyone experiences. The only
differences being in each of our specific beliefs about which laws do what types of harm.
I have no comprehension of all the incredibly complex ways in which any law gets applied and enforced, but I am keenly aware that any law can always
be used by the insecure and powerful for their own gain (keeping in mind that any human being can be insecure, and any human being can be more powerful than others in various circumstances).
When it comes to laws, including our current
(often politically and fearfully driven) discourse about what laws we should have or shouldn't have, perhaps there's another possible direction to look in first.
What if I believed that humanity was essentially evil, as in survival of
What if I believed that I was essentially alone and vulnerable in this world... a singular, insecure being, separate from everyone else and everything else?
Then I would find things to fear, and I would
want the organization of society (and laws) to be set up in such a way to mitigate or control whatever are the biggest concerns being created in my personal mind... a list of concerns, that I may NOT notice, keeps getting added to, no matter how many of my
previous concerns get "solved".
The fact that I believe there is something "out there" to fear, means that I will ALWAYS find it.
What if I believed that humanity was essentially good?
What if I believed that I was intrinsically connected to everyone and everything, in ways that I cannot even begin to comprehend?
Then I would find things to love, and I would trust and BE in life with a much bigger (and
less personally protective) understanding. I would approach concerns with a bit more grace and wisdom, expecting good first, while also knowing that I can intuitively navigate whatever shows up... whether I'm presented with the manifestation of someone else's
fear or someone else's love.
The fact that I truly believe there is something "out there" to love, means that I will ALWAYS find it, even in circumstances that would otherwise appear to be bereft of it.
in society is not the laws we have or don't have. It's simply the belief in fear.
In regard to fear, I don't think that most people follow laws most of the time because of their fear of the potential consequences. They follow them simply
because they make sense or they (as human beings) are essentially good and cooperative and usually do not wish to do harm to others.
But, as long as any human being believes their feelings of insecurity (fear), they will, in those moments,
do what occurs to them to protect themselves, including ignoring or circumventing laws that get in their way, or if powerful enough, writing laws that let them get their way. Some have made a habit of it.
Now, in regard to finding love,
I don't exist in a world of form filled with rainbows and unicorns. And so I don't tend to walk down dark alleys, or leave my doors unlocked. I also haven't stopped the desire to champion (fight) against unjust laws and societal norms that appear to overwhelmingly
victimize the powerless.
However, I am aware that it's only "hurt people that hurt people", it's only moments of believed insecurity that foster insecure behaviour, it's only fear that is at the root of all the actions that laws are designed
to mitigate or protect.
I also have a strong sense that it can be incredibly transformative (for myself and others) when I consider love first, instead of fear.
I can't make anyone look in this direction, any more
than I can make someone obey a law. But I can look in the direction of love myself, and somehow continue to do so, even though I naturally keep falling back into my own brand of insecure thought daily (what I lovingly refer to as my own personal craziness).
And in a way, that's everything. I somehow keep learning to look toward love first, while navigating all the rest in whatever way it occurs to me to do so. No law required.