Only the Shadow Knows: going from auto to manual
When does acceptable irritable anger grow into impulsive behavior fueled by anger? It is common for people to become frustrated by circumstances that led to issues of self-control . Today the bad economy is causing stress in business and the stress trickles down into everyone’s life. Resources are thin and abuse is more abundant. How do we learn to regain self-control? Why should we bother and what are the differences?
To me, going on to manual is a process. It is just like slowing down to smell the roses. Or letting go of my feelings instead of acting in a compulsive way. We all depend on our feelings for survival. We have a core set of feelings that motivate us and enable the brain to propel us into survival behaviors like flight or flight. We all have many social behaviors that prevent us from harming ourselves or others.
So, why is it that we don’t have feelings that enable us to be more social and feel better? The same set of feelings that allow us to survive are used to help us thrive. We need to go from auto to manual to become aware of these positive feelings.
But this doesn’t mean that one set of feelings are better or worse. This doesn’t mean that anyone is out to get us or we are out to get them. A change is as good as a rest. No play makes me a dull boy! There are many practices that help us overcome stress: meditation, deep breathing and rest and relaxation. But awareness is key to all these behaviors. Being more aware of our unconsciousness is possible and as we notice feelings like anger and joy, we become more conscious. We can stop and relax. By assessing these values we can become aware of our involvement in any given situation. And by taking time out to think about the situation we can choose to rest and relax. This manual drive could drive us further down into despair. But choosing to assess our feelings and consciously deciding to relax will bring more awareness. It is all about the awareness and self control. Some spiritual practices describe the outcomes as fruit: love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self control and patience. This good practice is all about awareness: using our circumstances as a chance to change. There are some spiritual practices that describe this as an act of not doing. I believe it to be going from auto to manual.
Good Practice #4 is more like an awareness exercise. It may appear as something out of control or emerging out of the unconscious. But it ends with the consciousness of awareness. I am slowing down my life or routine. I stop. I check into my feelings of the moment. I evaluate. I assess the value of the feeling: an amount, as in a value on a scale of 1 to 10. Then I decide to rest and relax and become aware of my feelings. Often this awareness is a shift or an addition of another feeling. Perhaps, I feel sad and then I feel sad and angry. Then I rest and relax, again. I feel happier. I start to notice my muscles tightening up. Then I feel like taking a deep breath. Again, I notice a lightness. I feel a little good. I feel a little peace. To me, it is like being on auto and making a conscious decision to go on manual. It is like a spirit is driving the car, but now I am. It is all about letting go, resting and relaxing, feeling, noticing, and being free.