Beyond fight or flight: Acceptance
When we perceive danger or a situation which brings a feeling of uneasiness, we could stay and fight. We need to “win,” we need to conquer the “enemy,” etc. On the other hand, if that situation is perceived as unsurmountable, then we need to “save face,” that is “flight.”
Our conditioning is heavily influenced by dualities: win-lose, fight-flight. This is the first aspect to observe, when making sense of our behavior. Why is that important? Because we are caught in a box of 2 possibilities, when there are many.
One of the heaviest conditioning there is in our society, is related with this duality of perceiving Life as the inner working of a computer: On-OFF, 0-1. In general, we see Life from this binary format. Duality. No wonder “our creation,” the classical computer works in the same way. We may need to switch our awareness to something like a “Quantum Computer,” where there could be more than just one choice, many possibilities.
Spirituality sees that ACCEPTANCE of “what is,” is indeed another way to meet Life.
This is not surrendering or an offshoot of “flying,” by slowly walking off like a dog who has been nagged by his owner. Acceptance is to be flexible in the moment to meet Life as it appears.
For example, every Tuesday I may eat spaghetti religiously. One Tuesday I ran out of it and couldn’t purchase it. Yes, I could eat something else instead, but that is not the type of acceptance that I am talking about.
Acceptance is to look with some sort of excitement at the opportunity for something different, that is the arrival of newness. Acceptance is an attitude of gratefulness for the new experience.
The above is something difficult to see when we are only caught up in our own stories, our own images that we want to protect.
For instance, Life sends a pandemia. The story is not just about human beings. Nature has the rare opportunity to rebuild itself. Caught up in our own stories in self-absorption, we cannot see the whole picture. So what Nature has to do with “me”? Nature is where WE live, what we breathe, Life itself.
The human story commonly shared is about lost jobs, lost lives, lost income, lost markets, lost GDP, and so forth. We do not see the unity of all. We do not perceive when we divide ourselves from everything else, that we create a duality between “us” and “them;” therefore, the survival of “them” depends on the extermination of “us.” We cannot see a sane balance of “us” and “them,” for our minds haven’t been conditioned to harmonize but to ‘win,’ to ‘conquer,’ to follow the “survival of the fittest” idea when paradoxically, the weakest of us are being killed through a virus (There is an element of human responsibility in every pandemia) and we want to protect them. Let us not go into the “morality” of that perspective. Let us see the facts. Animals, plants, the environment are the “weakest links, “younger brothers” compared to humans but the same moral direction to protect is not there, but to exploit.
Acceptance. That is the opportunity to end the stories of despair and anguish and look forward to newness, the opportunities.
There are different levels or interpretations of acceptance, but a deep acceptance will bring as a result what is known as a “detached observer.”
What Life “throws at us” is for our own inner development; thus, we may need to sharpen our ability to Observe, so we could assimilate Life experiences with acceptance rather than bitterness and opposition.
“We” cannot ‘win’ over Life. We are Life itself.
What is awareness?
It is not a concept. It is not something to be defined. It is transcending through acceptance. This acceptance is not intellectual. It is openness.
I will attempt to describe it.
Peter was driving his car when, someone cut him off.
Anger was the immediate response: He waved the finger and screamed the F word. As a consequence, he wasn’t paying attention and he almost hit the car in the adjacent lane.
Peter wasn’t AWARE of how anger became him in a few moments.
In retrospect, Peter wasn’t AWARE of the repercussion of a car passing in front of him. The car did not do any harm to Peter. Peter only slowed down a bit for couple of seconds. Reality was that the driver was in a hurry to get to the hospital, as her daughter was about to die.
Peter interpreted the driver’s action as “mean and unthoughtful,” but deep inside he had his ego to protect: How you dare to cut ME off? I am right!
That was the real “reason” of Peter’s reaction.
During the brief seconds of this road rage, Peter was not AWARE of the different personalities inside him. He was divided.
Surprise, was one emotional personality showing up, followed by fear of being hit, and then a sense of not being respected. Out of the 3 different personalities, Peter identified with the last one: Not being respected. That “button” when pushed, triggered anger. If he had identified with the other 2 emotions, his response would have been different.
Peter had the possibility to identify with 3 personalities in such a small amount of time or not to identify at all. This is not a “choice” it is a natural process which only manifests who we ARE.
The sense of not being respected is a “big button” in Peter. Anger is the manifestation of that button being pushed.
As Peter, most individuals have different personalities, different centers “driving” our reactions.
In the “office world” we have been conditioned with rudimentary “spirituality”. This is known as “Emotional intelligence”.
Become aware of the energy of anger, so you can stop it; it is said.
At the thought level, that makes “sense”. In reality, it is detrimental for repressed anger will explode at a later time.
The answer is in the “button to be pushed”. If Peter did not interpret someone cutting him off as “lack of respect,” then the latent energy of anger couldn’t have any way to manifest for lack of identification.
Thus, as the “buttons to be pushed” are cleared from the self, observation becomes impersonal as well as awareness. It is not “I” being aware, but there is awareness of the “inside” and “outside”.
Lesser “I” means greater awareness, greater observation, greater detachment from the scene; for it is the “I” identifying with some belief, some ideal, some taboo which will manifest a reactive energy of defense.
I have “analyzed” a sample of the process of anger. Someone who observed this in himself, wouldn’t need these many words to know.
Therefore, AWARENESS merely observes depending on the size of the “I”. A “big I” does not have the capacity for awareness, for identification will be there. That “I” becomes “someone” through identification.
When there is a “smaller I”, there is greater capacity for awareness as the opportunity to identify with a particular energy diminishes.
Peter will learn to repress anger through this experience. He needs to be careful. “He” needs to control his anger. Emotional intelligence or any superficial “spirituality” may give him “tools” to conquer anger. Peter may believe that “he is making progress for he is less angry than before.” In reality, he is repressing more due to his fear of anger.
Once he is AWARE of that, Peter will be ready to know about the inner buttons pushed by the circumstances of Life. That will be the beginning of a healthy acceptance of his own anger.
To transcend we need to learn to accept. 🙂
Question: Awareness and Anger
After realizing that being in the present moment and being aware of your own thoughts is the key towards something USEFUL in life, I am facing some obstacles. Like in I am totally in the present moment enjoying my meal by being focused on it, something from outside happens like my sibling pops up from somewhere and starts shouting about what wrong I did in morning in my washroom (I just broke the bucket in which I bath, nothing else). And that too in a way as if I have committed a sin. So inside I got a thought of anger but as I am AWARE about it, I did not express it. But how to not just get that thought of anger, because after that you can’t enjoy your present moments for another half an hour, You may end up saying, becoming totally aware of that thought of anger as soon as it arises and it will vanish, will that ever happen to me, seems strange! Or should I allow that thought too, may be it is in connection with your recent article of “Enjoying the thought”.
Thank you for your well elaborated question.
Awareness does not imply rejection of an emotion such as anger.
Anger is not “good or bad”. That is the first item to be AWARE of. We have been conditioned to reject anger and to embrace compassion, however; both are different degrees of the same energy. The world of “good and bad, right or wrong” does not apply in Life but only in the “office world.”
“Should I let myself express anger?” Understand anger through your own experience of being AWARE of anger completely, through all phases of it. To transcend something, we cannot repress it, deny it or suppress it. To do that means to establish an inner conflict for the sake of an ideal.
Anger is there. Be it. Become totally aware of it. I repeat TOTALLY AWARE of it: How it appears, how it ignites you, what you feel and how it goes away. Then, you will know that you are an angry person. Accept it. Don’t try to cover it with mental ideals such as: “ I should not be this. I should be a compassionate person. I promise to myself and God that I will not DO it again”.
That is rejection of the energy of anger. That rejection based on an ideal strengthens ego, for then the ideal becomes everything and your “practice” of the ideal is the measuring stick to judge others and yourself.
Acceptance is not intellectual. It is not to say to yourself: “I accept my anger”. That means nothing. Acceptance is at the level of feelings. It takes self-love.
Anger is not a thought (so it is not related with my last article). If you observe it, you will notice that an inner button was pushed. Then thoughts will arrive to support that experience.
To live in the “now” means that once anger is unleashed, (storm) you go back to the “now” which is “anger free” (calmness).
I used to know someone who could get angry while eating his meals, and then a few seconds later; it was as if nothing has happened. That is to live in the “now”.
However, our conditioning is to keep that anger with us for a long time. That is artificial. We are keeping that through our conditioned mind. This is poison for our being.
If you observe a child, you will notice what I am talking about. If you observe a child, then your question will be answered without using words.
If you are keeping anger inside, that means that you are not observing it. AWARENESS is not like pressing the brakes on a car to avoid something. AWARENESS is to go into it fully conscious of what is happening inside and outside, the repercussions and the consequences. That experience has value for it is about knowing to transcend it, not just expressing anger as a reaction without awareness.
The mental goal: “I should be anger free,” will not allow you to understand your own anger. The objective to get rid of it, is the obstacle. In most “spiritual people” the belief that anger is “bad” is lingering in their unconscious. That is a huge obstacle.
When there is no reaction in you, no button pressed whatsoever, then anger will not arrive …but neither compassion. That is known as being a “witness” or a “detached observer.”
That is not something to “practice” but a state of being which will arrive as our inner “buttons to be pushed” diminish.
So, the real question is “how to get rid of those inner buttons?”
There are so many articles in this blog about beliefs, hang ups, taboos, ideals, emotions and judgements that need to be observed to experience a “button free” state, a.k.a “witness of Life.”
All of this “unconditional acceptance” is known as Tantra: It applies to Life, Death, Sex and Love. The “real” things in Life. 🙂
Question: Emotions and inferiority complex
“When I observe myself I feel more comfortable when I cry a lot by recalling bad events happened to me in the past and present. Sometimes I feel like crying loudly. I don’t know what is happening inside. I live alone and always wanted to stay alone without any friends and family relatives. Also I am suffering from an inferiority complex over my physical appearance. Any solution?”
Thank you for your question.
The world of emotions is incredibly deep. Logic, reason and analysis are useless when dealing with emotions.
When you remember your past or current “bad” events, you mind is involved. It is like forcing someone to watch a sad movie for the heck of it. Many times we do that to ourselves. It is as if something is bothering our ego and the movie comes up to tell us what it “is.”
That is the rational mind. There is nothing there for us to look at for we can only interpret things, rationalize things and decide to act in one way or another to protect our ego.
Sit down comfortably. Put on some tranquil, peaceful music. Observe how the mind goes into a dream state by playing anther “movie.” We are dreaming although supposedly, awake. Music could be a trigger to release your emotions.
Cry all you want within the space of compassion. It is needed, necessary and good.
You don’t need to know what is happening inside. Remember, that need to “know” is the mind. What your being needs is to heal.
Healing emotions is a process. We cannot pick what we want to heal. “Today I want to heal my inferiority complex…here is the method.” No! It does not work like that. What you are able to release, will be released. It does not depend on you.
Emotions are unprocessed energy stuck in our beings.
In my experience, holistic healers could be of great help. Sound or hypnosis may work for you, but that is up to you to try. That depends on you. Life will offer the “solution” at the right time. See what is available for you at this time.
To live alone is beneficial in many aspects. However, when we use that lifestyle to protect ourselves, out of fear, or to fulfill some “spiritual” ideal; our Life could be hellish.
Physical appearance is important, but more important is the acceptance of yourself.
By all means, DO something to improve your physical appearance if possible, according to your means, your time and how bad you want it, while in that process acceptance of “you” as “you” becomes the most important item in your list.
This is not related on how others perceive you based on some collective conditioning, but in how you perceive yourself. Do you like yourself? Do you feel at ease with yourself?
You have identified an inferiority complex. Now is the time to act.
Allow for Life to show you different avenues. Keep an open mind. Your Life may change at any time.
Openness in all aspects is the key to understand spirituality beyond infantile ideas.
What is that openness?
If you feel like crying, then cry.
If you feel like living alone, then do it.
If you want to remember “bad” events, remember them.
If you want to physically compare yourself with others, then compare yourself.
Just be AWARE of their consequences and repercussions. Forget about judgments.
Note how much of that which is happening to us, we DO it to ourselves unknowingly, then ACCEPT that all of that can change at any time… for it will change.
For some this is the belief about “hope in the future”.
For me, this is just a fact of Life.
The very best to you! 🙂
Grief and transformation of emotions
What do you feel when a loved one dies?
What do you feel when you experience a broken heart?
What would you experience if you are told that you only have a month to live?
Most of us will perceive those experiences as a hardship, something that shouldn’t happen to us, but yet it does.
Psychologists have come up with stages of grief: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Observe in yourself how grief transforms into anger and how that in turn will transform into sadness, depression and finally into acceptance.
Nevertheless, for most that final stage of acceptance is not “true” acceptance. It is more accurate to call it to be submissive.
The angry tiger becomes a docile kitty cat.
We could fight, struggle with anyone except with Life itself.
Observe how the experience of opposite emotions will be going through the experience of the “cycle” of grief: I could deny, just to accept. I could feel anger, just to be submissive. I could bargain with the higher powers to be, rationalizing the incident; just to be depressed.
Acceptance is not submissiveness.
Acceptance is openness to the experience.
When you are a “Life walker,” a seeker; you may find out that those 5 stages of grief are not accurate in your case.
There is one important stage, which will return a true smile in our faces.
That final stage is called GRATITUDE.
Gratitude is not say “Thank you” as many think. Gratitude means to be able to be fulfilled in yourself. Nothing is lacking. You are at ease and able to live with you.
“You” are Life itself, complete. Nevertheless, most “normal” people cannot experience that yet. For them gratitude is just another “spiritual keyword,” a nice way to say “thank you,” with the mind.
If a loved one passes away, your stage of grief will be fully transformed through “spiritual alchemy,” when there is a sense of gratitude in you. A loved one is gone into another journey. You are not lacking. That sense of grief was shown to you through that event. You are grief. Nothing wrong with that. However, you can transform it, that is; use the same energy to come up with something else: Acceptance, Gratitude.
When we are not aware of transformation of energies, we will only repress them to try to act tough, quasi-spiritual, disconnected, disinterested, etc.
Many individuals will experience grief, express it and keep it for as long as they can. They thrive in getting pity from others. It is a way for them to feel important as people may finally notice them. Others, may reject grief as they have been conditioned to believe that they have to show a happy face all the time.
Very few will transform it, and yet even fewer; will feel GRATITUDE out of that experience. Ultimately, there is FREEDOM in GRATITUDE.
A trauma or fear of Life comes when we have not reached a state of true acceptance, when we are continuously struggling with Life.
Our conditioning that we should fight for everything may work in the “office world,” but it will never work with Life.
The mind is our inner TV. It has so many images. Most times we believe in those images as “real” and add our own expectations, our own story of how life should be for “me.” When a setback is felt and grief comes in the horizon, that TV show will be the same repeat which in turn will bring more suffering to the ego, the “I.”
Why is that suffering?
Because my expectation of what Life should be for “me” does not fit reality. Ego cannot accept that. The repetition of the images is there so we don’t forget. It is a nagging reminder.
Anger, denial, etc. are expressions of the fighting ego.
EGO cannot have GRATITUDE, for ego always wants something else. Ego is in a state of lacking fulfillment.
That is why it is said that “time heals.” For the ego will look for something else in time to cover the previous trauma.
Self-observation is an invaluable tool for self-knowledge. For that to happen, we need to allow ourselves to feel the full range of an emotional experience. Life is always teaching us, showing us, who we truly are.
Until December 1st! Enjoy Life. 🙂
Forgetting the past
A reader asked: ” I want to forget my past but I could not. What to do?”
Observe that “I want to forget my past” does not work.
It does not matter what “method” someone may want to use.
The “I” cannot forget at will just as the “I” cannot stop thinking at will.
To say to someone “forget and forgive” is completely meaningless. Nice words to say, it sounds wise, but that is as far as it goes.
It is not about trying to “forget something,” that is like trying to catch your own shadow.
It is not a matter of DOING something like drinking tequila to “forget.”
The past is gone. It will be remembered if that was a cause of trauma, which means if it wasn’t accepted as it was.
What otherwise was like a flowing river; becomes stuck in a particular place due to a trauma perceived by the “I.”
Thus, the “keyword” to emotionally understand this issue is Acceptance.
Acceptance is not a concept, a nice thought to be entertained with or some sort of “spiritual” catchphrase.
If your mind says: “That makes sense. I will accept my past.” Nothing will happen. You will still remember it. The trauma is there.
Acceptance is to take away the blockages which are not allowing the waters of the river, to flow freely.
“Taking away” the blockages means to realize the beliefs, ideals, hang ups causing the trauma.
For example, you may have experienced a hard childhood. Whatever hardship you may think that you endured, has taken you today to where you are. Do you see that?
Would you label yourself as a “failure,” a byproduct of that traumatic childhood?
Yes? That is where lack of love will begin. It begins as a rejection to ourselves. We cannot forget something which we blame to be the cause of our “failure.” That memory will be triggered over and over by different events. All we are showing in our reactions, is our own suffering.
That lack of self-love will cause our inability to have a healthy connection with another human being, where love is at stake.
No? Then, if you are not a “failure,” then ask yourself: Why that pain from the past cannot be let go, accepted as part of Life? You may have broken your finger in the past, but even if you remember the experience, it will be neutral, it will not move you a bit. You can only be emotionally moved by something from the past, if that hasn’t been accepted, assimilated, processed.
Do you see that the type of acceptance I am talking about, is not coming from the mind?
Find the rejection. That is all. Once you find it, accept it with your heart.
I found out that a very dear friend of mine, passed away yesterday. Memories of the past will be triggered. My mind could even say how unfair life is. She was so young and full of artistic zest. Whatever my mind adds as justification or explanation, is just an interpretation. To accept means to feel the event whole in its entirety, without finding a place to hide. By allowing the event to go through me, it will not be stuck in my emotions as a trauma. By not using my mind to explain and justify things based on my ideas and conditioning, it will go through me as it came. For when you are an empty door, aware of who is passing by, there is no place for a trauma to stay.
Rejection of a Life experience is the obstacle not allowing the river of Life to flow, to change. The past is only memory. Observe how you perceive it, observe your own interpretation of it and how much damage we can do to ourselves when that interpretation does not fit the ideal that we have of how Life “should be.”
Life is. Always the present, always the “now.” Embrace it, love it, move with it. 🙂
Fear of fear
If you observe yourself, all activities performed are motivated by self-preservation.
That self-preservation could be physical, emotional or learned conditioning.
To eat is a physical need. To feel loved, an emotional. To win a competition, learned conditioning.
Fear appears when the mind foresees that one of those “needs” may not be available, and self-preservation is at stake.
Great fear means great “I-ness.”
Fear is not a “bad” thing. It just goes out of proportion through the stories stored in our minds.
There can be fear to relate with others. There can be fear of being in a relationship, there can be fear of change, of being different.
The “I” wants to remain unchanged.
In some extent, the “vices” are but the expression of utmost fear.
The mind could come up with ways to “regulate” that fear; but those are artificial solutions which are short lived.
At one point of our lives, we may need to sit down and recognize our fears and how those fears are an obstacle for new experiences.
The safety of fear is a conditioning of our society.
To trust Life is a level of safety which is unknown by most.
The “I” thinks that he can trust his control over things and people.
That controlling mind is a sign of fear.
Beyond religious tales on “salvation,” beyond society’s blurb on “morality,” there is inside us a big doses of fear, which is sugar coated with the word “security.”
Do you stay in an unhealthy relationship due to “security”?
Do you keep yourself trapped in a belief system for “security”?
The keyword to recognize is not security but fear.
Fear maintains the division, the separation. We fear what we don’t know, but to know means to BE and that is the journey to walk.
We ARE when there is not a bit of rejection in our hearts for something or someone.
It is not called acceptance, for to willingly accept means to cover our rejection with yet an ideal created by our minds.
We use the word “accept” to understand each other, but when we put that word in “practice,” it is fake. Our rejection will be there masked, sugar coated by a word, the mind.
There is a snake crawling. Did you observe your feelings? No?
Then, perhaps decided to “practice” acceptance?
Recognize fear. Nothing wrong with that. If that fear stays with you as a traumatic experience, as an ongoing rejection; then that is the perfect time to know a bit more about yourself, your emotions, your conditioning, your beliefs.
Do we call that spirituality?
Call it with any label.
As that fear dissipates, then peace appears.
Did we practice any meditation for that?
When your stomach is empty and you feel hungry, eating a little candy can give you enough sugar to mask that hunger.
That is meditation as a “practice.”
When it is not a “practice,” meditation is to live Life in awareness.
Whenever there is awareness, there is peace.