Today I read a nice piece by a colleague on the common misconception that stress can be imposed on us by circumstances. It occurred to me that for those of us who understand where feelings come from, it was a very clear explanation. And someone who is unfamiliar with the source of our feelings would be likely to reject the notion.
Recently I heard one of the most experienced teachers in the 3 Principles field describe the role as being in the business of overcoming resistance. Most people believe that their feelings or experience of life are being created by circumstances. We point to the fact that feelings are created 100% by thought. And this is a radical idea to most. So it can take some time to demonstrate via examples from the clients own life why this is true and what the implications are. Not everyone is open to considering something new. I’ve written previously about the phenomenon of confirmation bias. It’s more bluntly described in the recovery world as ‘contempt prior to investigation.’
There are good reasons why people may struggle initially to understand. They are unaware of how powerful thought is. It feels as though event A happens and response B occurs automatically. Thought is so fast, so invisible, so imperceptible. The client’s own experience appears to tells them that the event caused their distress, because they didn’t notice the essential role of Thought. Our culture reinforces this illusion. Virtually every news story will find an external cause for every bad news item. Thought is just as imperceptible as bacteria – until you know how to perceive it – and at least as powerful.
This is why working with a client who wants to find more peace and clarity is more than a 5 minute conversation. Yet because I know that the 3 Principles accurately describe how the human experience of life is created, just through listening and conversing with a client we will uncover little pieces of evidence. Evidence that establishes to their satisfaction that the role of transient thought is the key determinant of their moment to moment experience. When this occurs it is a pivotal moment.
This is not just some debate about competing philosophies or who is right. Once someone has had an insight into the nature of thought, some deep implications begin to emerge.
It is no longer necessary to change the world in order to change your feelings. Because your feelings are coming from transient thought. And as the stream of thought that runs through each of us is constantly changing of its own accord, you don’t need to try to control that either.
If someone holds a difficult spouse responsible for feeling of depression, they feel that the solution lies outwith them. They may start to put a lot of mental energy into trying to change their partner or ruminating on the pros and cons of divorce, all of which bring their own low mood feelings [and probably make the relationship more difficult] When that person understands insightfully that the real culprit is the thoughts they are entertaining, a great deal of painful thinking begins to evaporate. Regret for the past and fear of the future are seen for what they are: painful ideas which only exist in thought. When they stop trying to blame or change their partner, or ruminating on the merits of divorce or the powerlessness of their situation, their mind naturally clears. They are able to see the relationship from a more neutral perspective. Common sense re-emerges. And clarity about whether to stay or go comes to the fore.
If you seem to be stuck in emotional distress and would like some peace of mind and clarity, I may be able to help. Please drop me an email or call.