Finding Equanimity

When someone blasts you with their anger or treats you in a way that you don’t appreciate, does your energy level drop? Do you start to feel bad? Or in some situations, do you get derailed for the rest of the day?

Neuroscience shows us that humans are susceptible to the emotions of humans. Our mirror neurons, which may be the foundation of empathy in the brain, are critical to the development of social cognition, which has clear evolutionary advantages for social animals such as humans. 

Yet, it’s not always comfortable to be around someone who is frustrated, angry, or disrespectful. This is especially true if it’s a person to whom we are otherwise deeply connected, like a spouse, child, or friend; or if it’s a person who holds some level of influence over our survival needs, like our boss. For people who are deeply empathetic and sensitive, it can be even more challenging.

Furthermore, when we’ve developed a level of self-awareness and emotional intelligence, we experience our own shame and disappointment in ourselves if we notice that we are reacting to the emotions of others, “even though we know better.” This is normal.

Luckily, there is a way to gain power and control over your emotional experience, shift out of victim consciousness, and become the person you’ve always known was possible. By gaining these skills, you will never be “made to” feel something or “get” angry, upset or worried again. It becomes possible for you to enjoy optimal health and long-term wellbeing. You become able to bring your best to every situation you face in life.

Here is the skill: slowing down your internal processes. When you do, you can see that your emotional reactions are not based on anything that is actually happening.

You’re not reacting to any event or any person who is having their own experience. You are reacting to what you THINK about that event, person, or message. 

The event happens first. Then you think. Then you feel. 

This is why following your feelings, your gut, and your intuition doesn’t always give great results. If feelings and intuitions are built on distorted thinking patterns, they will take us in a direction which reinforces the distortion. To have accurate intuition and feelings, we have to first clear those distortions. 

We “get” upset by others because a) on some level, we agree with what they are believing; or b) we are riding the energy of their emotions, or the “group think”, instead of remaining centered in our own.

When you can slow down your internal processes, something new becomes possible. 

First, you become able to understand what you are thinking that can make you feel bad. 

Second, you can push back against what you are thinking by asking reality-testing questions of yourself. Good questions are based on the Four Sufi Gates of Speech: Is that thought true about me? Is it helpful to me? Is the thought necessary to me? Is it kind to me?

Third, if your answer to any of those questions is “no”, you can believe something else ~ and therefore, feel something else. 

Right in that moment, you can anchor yourself in deep, abiding self love. An unshakable trust in your own goodness ~ knowing that you are OK now and have always been OK ~ becomes your new foundation. From that perspective, you become free to experience the emotional reality that you want to experience.

Negative loops in our thinking are based on decisions we made about ourselves when we were younger and took the events of our lives personally. Now that you’re an adult, you are free to decide if you want to continue believing the same things that you did before ~ or if new beliefs about who you are will support you better.

To your success,