We are constantly working on ourselves. Some of us choose the harder way though: allowing destructive emotions to overwhelm them. The growing discomfort of aggressive mental background makes them go berserk, doubling down on external efforts blindfolded. Others patiently clean up arising internal issues, realizing that leaving them to “rot” can only aggravate an already difficult situation.
Each of us has a different “emotional fitness” level, the depth of issues resolved. If triggered, they prompt no destructive emotions, we maintain our cool. A threshold of non-production of destructive reactions. If below the threshold: harmonic interaction with the world. Above: the boiling point, and asymmetric response.
Current coronavirus pandemic events test this threshold daily. “How are things with you today? Are you balanced? How about raising the pressure a bit? Still maintaining composure? Or ready to burn?”
Even the issues we have successfully fixed ages ago, suddenly start to pop up. Money, future, relationships… Even seasoned practitioners with an “automated” process of handling “whatever arises” have to roll up their sleeves. Otherwise, they may get sunk by people around who can’t yet swim (deal with emotions).
It is not easy to distinguish between our home-grown emotional discomforts and the echos of struggles other people experience. In any case, as we tackle our own issues, we leave no causes to resonate with the agitation of the people around us. Especially, “mutual dependencies” — similar problems, proclivities we share that dictate aggressive behavior, inability to accept the situation, fears and other “joys” of ignorance. As an extra perk to “change the world” narrative: our own stability offers others “presence”, peace of mind and reason they can tune in to.
Situational priorities challenge
If we rely on currently “dissatisfied” levels of Maslow’s pyramid of needs, they may keep us angry until “all of this ends”. Physiology, safety, social and other, basically, animal priorities already make people tear each other apart. Theoretic humanism, spirituality, any “no-harm” ethics, that are not yet fully embodied, are overwhelmed by well-trained primeval habits.
Believing one’s own feelings
Feelings don’t lie. The simple and palpable rule that keeps me afloat when in doubt:
if I feel emotional tension, internal “electricity”, discomfort:
my motivation, “critical reasoning” and actions are “tainted”.
Destructive emotions unequivocally tip me: my perception of the current situation and decisions are skewed [by dependencies that fuel mental aggression I feel]. Thus, leading to all kinds of undesired consequences. Ironically, pretty much exactly the ones my mind so desperately fights to avoid.
I am partial when it comes to Buddhist mind-training instruments. Especially, when they imply vigilance and taking it seriously. Here is a quote shared by HH The Dalai Lama 14th during one of his teachings:
(“The Way of the Bodhisattva” by Shantideva)
Obviously, we may not be able to freeze “like a piece of wood” in all kinds of situations. However, finding the time later is usually a possibility. We can be grateful for the explicit hint [about issues highlighted by our emotions]. Make a change. Because, if it happens again, the only person who can be blamed for this is us.