Just recently I went to an evening hosted by One Thought and the lovely Susan Marmot, who said something that really resonated with me.
The subject was relationships and we talked about how our feelings about other people come from our thinking about the other person and not the other person directly. The implications of this fact are far reaching and highly significant, in every aspect of our lives.
For instance, when we realise that our experience is being generated from the ‘inside-out’ then it completely changes how we might approach any kind of conflict or difficulty we perceive we are having with another person.
Traditional approaches in therapy and mediation encourage people to air their grievances and, in some cases, even in the presence of the other person too. As Syd Banks once said, this is like burning your hand and then sticking back in the fire to make it better!
Life is difficult… is this really true?
Many years ago I read a book called ‘The Road Less Travelled’ by Dr.M.Scott Peck. I loved the book at the time and it contains a line which has become particularly famous:
‘Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it.’
So, what is it that makes life difficult?
How it looks to me is that bad feelings that we attribute to circumstances are what make life seem difficult. After all, in good feelings we tend to transcend our ‘problems’ because our thinking is so much more generative.
The thing is that what we tend to label ‘bad’ feelings are as normal, natural and to be expected as much as good feelings. You can’t have only good feelings, we just don’t work that way. I have never meet anyone who only gets good feelings and no bad ones, have you? (even though advertisers, certain sections of the media and other vested interests would love us to think that it’s true).
What does happen though is that people can have a lot of thinking about their bad feelings. They think it is wrong to have them, they fight them, try and make them go away and yet this only makes them worse.
The most intense examples of this are addictions. People feel bad and then try to get rid of the feeling by numbing themselves with substances or distracting themselves with certain (often destructive) behaviours.
A fundamental truth about life
At one point during the evening Susan said ‘There’s an easier way to do life.’ and I thought this brilliantly captured the essence of the three principles understanding.
The inside-out understanding tells us that our feelings are coming from our thought in the moment, not our circumstances. And the nature of thought is that it is transient – a thought comes, we experience the feeling of it and then we get another thought.
We live in a flow of thought, some we label ‘good’ and some we label ‘bad’ but, in reality, thought is neutral and the more we see this fact the less we are bothered by our experience, whatever it may be.
The biggest mistake that we can make is to try to manage our thinking and control our experience. We have about as much chance of doing this as we do of controlling the weather.
Our thinking changes all the time – in this respect it IS just like the weather (especially in the UK!). But, if we believe that our thinking is a representation of our life then we are going to be for a very, very bumpy ride.
The principles never change – they are 100% reliable, all of the time with no exception and whatever our experience is.
There is a life force, we think and we are aware of our thinking. These three spiritual facts are providing our experience of life, constantly, reliably and perfectly. This is all we need to realise to move through life with ease, gracefully and more enjoyably.