How do you cope with difficult feelings? When you try to make yourself feel better, do you try to force yourself to change your feelings by demanding they obey what you think or want to feel?
How has giving yourself a hard time when you’re feeling too anxious, angry, depressed, empty, or confused worked out for you so far? I ask this with a smile on my face and hope it touches you in that place that sees the injuries that it has created. Pressuring yourself to change your feelings simply by expecting or chastising yourself for challenging feelings in my experience of all that I’ve witnessed hasn’t worked out well.
When you look closely, you will almost surely realize that demanding a change in feelings is one of those impossible tasks — like trying to ace something difficult on your first try. It’s not possible, so you need to find another way to guide yourself in a way that’s helpful — especially when you’re suffering more deeply.
What’s Einstein got to do with your feelings?
“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”
— Albert Einstein.
That’s what Einstein had to say when he was working on some of the world’s most complex problems. Dealing with, accepting, and learning to care for your feelings is also one of the world’s most challenging things to do with grace and understanding.
Can you see that it is possible to care for yourself if you switch levels? A change in levels means that you can start caring for yourself by thinking and eventually acting in a direction that moves you toward well-being no matter which difficult feelings you start with.
It is so vital that we don’t fall prey to what most of us do. We almost always want to feel better than we do when we’re having a hard time. Instead, switch your thinking levels and find an intention to care for your feelings, and access useful thoughts, attitudes, and actions. We can take what Einstein said and apply it to emotions and bring heart and wisdom to life’s challenges. It’s very possible to help ourselves with guiding thoughts and actions when we’re feeling challenged if we devote ourselves to growing in this way. Our response to our feelings will then become even more important than our feelings.
This requires discipline, focus, and getting over the all-too-human tendency to believe that consciously feeling good is what’s important. The deeper truth is that being wise is more important than feeling good, especially when we’re hurting in any way. We need to realize that most of us in our unconscious mind believe that feeling good is what matters and all kinds of thinking and thoughts are just a booby prize. When we pay close attention to our lives, we see that our wisdom’s thoughts, ideas, and guidance are what matter most. Following this guidance when we don’t feel good is going to be the most beneficial to ourselves and those around us.
What does changing levels mean in practice?
Our minds and emotions are two very different parts of our inner lives. That’s why our deepest challenging emotions are unreachable when we try to alter them through emotional pressure or demands.
Let’s look at a common example that you can extrapolate and apply to your own life experiences.
Think about the last time you were nervous or anxious about a medical test, a final exam, or some kind of performance review. Or maybe the anxiety and nervousness you probably felt was as familiar to you as you’d expect — it’s likely been a part of your life in different situations.
Here’s what you could say to help you care for yourself better: “I accept that I’m anxious and am dedicating myself to fostering my intention to be as courageous and focused as I can be.”
“My anxiety doesn’t define me, and is way less significant than my response to it. My next thought is one that will serve my life in the present or near future.”
“It is human to feel anxious, and it is divine to tolerate the anxiety and focus on my priority in my heart. So I’m doing it now.”
“My anxiety is trumped by my thought to care for myself and the person who I’m with.”
“I am at my most heroic and so is everyone else who can be anxious or challenged, and still meet it with a thought that serves my life now.”
Can you see how the connection between going to wiser thoughts at a time of difficulty is what Einstein meant in essence by finding another level to solve our dilemmas? Are you game to give yourself a suggestion to ask for and follow your wisest guiding thoughts when you are most challenged? Can you see how much of a real slice of life this is for all of us, and how this is one of the master keys to living a life with purpose, meaning and wisdom?
Some caring language that might get encourage you to change levels in your thinking:
“I’m sorry that you are feeling so anxious but remember, that you aren’t doing it on purpose. You are still able to guide your next thoughts to be in a direction that will help you.”
“This anxiety would be difficult for anyone, so let’s see what would be most helpful to think about.”
“Even though you can’t feel it right now, please find an inner knowing that you are still lovable while you’re anxious.”
“While feeling anxious and you make your best efforts, it’s even more heroic than if you did the same thing when you’re relaxed.
“Don’t try to change being anxious. Instead, focus on what your wisest mind’s response is to the question — what is most important to think about and do, after you direct your thoughts to care for your involuntary anxiety?”
All of these are examples of changing levels where you can support yourself by beginning with a change in a shift in intention and caring thought. This means that rather than fighting fire with fire, you are using water. Instead of being caught in an endless struggle with yourself, you’re able to put out the fire in a different and more effective way.
Sometimes it can be difficult to start working on this on your own. If you’d like additional support, access the Guided Teachings that are part of Chapter 2, of Awareness That Heals. Reading and/or listening to the audiobook selections of Awareness That Heals, particularly, the chapter on Friendly Mind will help you understand how to work on your reactions to your feelings in greater depth and detail.
It would serve us well to take Einstein’s advice on our feelings and develop a different kind of basic training that can help us support ourselves in challenging moments. It’s probably not going to be easy or even feel natural at first since we shun most of what makes us confront the difficult stuff. But it’s undoubtedly going to expand your quality of life and make it worth your time, as well as benefit the world around you.