The big insult: being run by your feelings
So, who do you want to run the show?
Are feelings mandatory dictators?
Make decisions ahead of time
Addressing the issue of feelings running the show
A mechanical recording from the brain as the master?
How I am using this in my discipline program
One of the strongest lessons in all mental/philosophical disciplines is:
Thoughts are just thoughts
Feelings are just feelings (sensations, perhaps discomforts)
Urges are just urges (not commands)
And they soon pass, at first rising, peaking, and then dissipating.
Just wait - and things will be fine. Just use The Pause. Just sit through and be with the discomfort - yes, it will pass. It has no magic force over you....
For goodness sake, don't reinforce it to cause it to continue... An emotion only lasts up to 90 seconds if it is not restimulated!
We need not battle the thoughts of the mind, for they will be generated and show up on their own. Instead, we can work with them, as if they are plaintive children, training them as much as possible, but always with kindness and compassion. (See Managing The Elephant - Who Is In Charge?.)
Kindness and compassion to ourselves? Yes, why not?
THE BIG INSULT
A "big insult" to some is to say "you're being run by your feelings".
And many of us have it backwards, we are actually "run by" our feelings, instead of vice versa.
But what are our "feelings"? And where do they come from?
They come from the primitive brain, from recordings that include something that looks like the current situation plus an emotion that goes with it, which is then triggered and which then causes some action (after a decision by you which will have been made by a matched recording in the primitive brain).
SO, WHO DO YOU WANT TO RUN THE SHOW?
Essentially, if you're run by your feelings, you're run by your primitive brain. You're run by lizard brain and monkey mind, the two earlier parts of the brain in evolution, also called, through brilliant realization: Dumb And Dumber. A life run by Dumb and Dumber does not work well - and surely no one in their "right mind" would choose that option over running life by the Higher Brain.
As Forrest Gump said in the movie: "Stupid is as stupid does."
Are you willing to settle for being run by a mechanical lower brain?
ARE FEELINGS MANDATORY DICTATORS?
Are feelings the master or the mastered, masterable?
Are feelings signs or commands?
Do you have to obey a feeling?
Hopefully, you don't believe that.
Even though you experience discomfort, you do have the power to choose not to react to it. One of the steps on the way to mastery is to practice using longer and longer delays before one reacts to unimportant discomforts, perhaps even starting as low as one minute and then working one's way up. Feelings often actually disappear completely in anywhere from a few seconds but almost for sure after 10 minutes.
Indeed, all spiritual disciplines talk of feelings being transitory and not worth being run by. All wise persons know that a "feeling is just a feeling", while those who have not matured will react to feelings as a child would - immediately, seeking instant gratification. Until the latter is unlearned, we need to practice the exercise above plus making decisions ahead of time (or we're doomed to an ineffective life).
MAKING DECISIONS AHEAD OF TIME
Make all decisions when you are in strength, using your higher brain and the necessary inputs and information. And then commit to those, make a stand for operating by them, so that in times of weakness the decision still stands, even in the face of strong chemical urgings.
Yes, while you still think you are a small person subject to those bigger than thou emotions, you will fail. But you must keep on getting up and reinstalling the practices that lead to the ability to not have to react to discomforts and unnecessary wants.
ADDRESSING THE ISSUE OF FEELINGS RUNNING THE SHOW
In an email from a seminar leader in reply to a seminar participant:
In your note you wrote..."It may seem like a lack of integrity..." (that she is backing out of a seminar due to her feelings)
Barbara, it IS a lack of Integrity...
not from a morality (good, bad, right, wrong, guilt, shame) standpoint, but from Integrity: "Doing what you said you would do, when you said you would do it".
[How important is Integrity? Where is it justified not to be integrous? Read the section on it: The Integrity Factor.]
Again, notice the "want" (your feelings) are running the show over 'your word.'
You'll gain power over your life when your word is law in your life.
A MECHANICAL RECORDING FROM THE BRAIN AS THE MASTER?
See the discussion of how the brain is just full of recordings, with feelings attached: Thoughts, Beliefs, Recordings Of The Mind. We react to the feelings as if they mean something or are compelling in some way, but, after noting them, we can choose to make our own decisions.
Note that if we are run by our feelings, we are therefore being run by our past and are accordingly doomed to continue having the past be the future. But we have a choice: to make changes somewhere in the causal chain:
Event outside us → Recording → Emotion → or →
or in the body from the past (feeling) Use higher brain for
The feeling is just a chemical, not a threat, in virtually all cases.
Feel ravenously hungry? You can choose to eat protein and a complex carb, all of low calories, as is suitable. The other alternative is to act as if one is an animal with no choice - but we are the only animals who are gifted with the ability to truly choose.
HOW I AM USING THIS IN MY "DISCIPLINE" PROGRAM
In my studies, I see that "feelings are only feelings", as they teach in meditation and in basic psychology. In my life, it is important that I am "bigger" in the areas of exercise, eating, and weight management.
So, I've decided that I can take the stance of being a strong person able to manage my responses and to not let them be determined by feelings that are simply from a pile of old recordings. Accordingly, I realize I have been indulging myself, especially when I did not feel very strong (like when I got sick or when I feel weak physically). That is why the needed weight loss has not occurred yet. But I value my being at my specified healthy weight more than I do a few feelings of discomfort in the moment. Unless there is a rational need to eat something, I shall choose to let the feeling of discomfort pass and just choose to do some activity I want to do or might best do.
Furthermore, I choose not wait to accomplish something I should do until "I feel like it", as that does not serve me. I still have the ability to do what is needed and no feeling can overrule me. I am the master of my life and I choose accordingly. I am not a slave to anyone or any feeling or any want. I am he who creates what he wants and is able to act above and beyond my feelings in the moment, as feelings are just feelings, and that's it!
I am strong and capable - and I choose to use those to create what I want and to not have small things get in the way - I simply sweep them aside, like small gnats.