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Facing Life's Challenges: The Fourth Challenge--Disturbed Emotions

Bodhinatha lists many common causes of emotional upsets. He then lists seven obstacles to resolution of the upset. Finally, he lists four keys to handling disturbed emotions.

Unedited Transcript:

This talk, fourth challenge, is one of the six: Facing Life's Challenges that we're developing. We presented this on the Innersearch and all the innersearchers gave us some feedback which we've included in this version of the presentation.

Fourth Challenge: Disturbed Emotions. When we get upset by life's experiences, we have a choice: to suffer the emotional upheaval or to strive to pull ourselves out of it as quickly as possible. A simple way to state the challenge we face is this: Do our emotions control us or do we control our emotions? Do the experiences we encounter in life determine our state of mind, or do we choose our state of mind independent of our experiences?

For example, if some challenges we face during the day upset us, do we stay upset for a few days or do we quickly gain control of our emotions and rid ourselves of feeling upset? In the practice of facing life's challenges certainly one of the most important parts of ourselves that we have to deal with is our emotional nature. What are some of the benefits of pulling ourselves as quickly as possible out of emotional upsets caused by life's experiences rather than simply suffering through them? A significant benefit is that we spend less time being unhappy and thus greatly improve the quality of our life. A second benefit is that we increase our overall emotional control and are less prone to other emotions that are self generated, such as worry and fear.

Another benefit relates to our intuition. The deepest insights and solutions come from our superconscious intuition. When we are upset, this faculty is cut off from us because the subconscious mind is disturbed. Quickly controlling the emotion returns our intuitive abilities quickly as well. Certainly one of the consequences of being seriously upset is that we then tend to disturb the other members of our family. This can lead to unkind words and actions occurring which results in further unhappiness for all involved. The benefit of not upsetting other family members is certainly an important one.

Gurudeva makes an interesting statement about controlling our instinctive nature. His idea is that if you are ever disappointed or discouraged, count it as a blessing. Do you believe that? He said that. If you are ever disappointed or discouraged, count it as a blessing. Why is this? Anybody know? He explains that it is because we make very little progress when we strive to conquer these baser instincts in a good mood. However, vast strides are possible when are miserable and work with ourselves to replace our misery with joy and understanding. He goes on to say that you then have the opportunity to conquer the instinctive nature and really stabilize yourself dynamically on the spiritual path. So the next time you are disappointed or discouraged you can remember that you're supposed to count it as a blessing.

So, on the Innersearch I asked those present for a list of common causes of emotional disturbance. Here is what they came up with. It's about twenty items. Children not behaving; disappointment over self and your performance; being falsely accused; seeing someone cheating; loosing control of the situation; relatives with plans for your life; people you know well, overwhelmed at work; taking on too much; getting frustrated; others not doing their share; miscommunication; jealousy; someone side stepping the real issue; time issues; stress; over interpreting a situation if you have insecurities; being framed or manipulated; (sounds bad), loss of money caused by others; regret over past; traffic; (these are the real things people face), delays; bigotry of others; snobbishness; losing; seeing a child mistreated; (quite a list.)

I also asked the group, "What are the obstacles we need to overcome to quickly pull ourselves together when we do get upset, and they came up with seven: Ending up in the state of mind of self pity; dwelling on the problem without seeking a solution; the tendency to justify your mistakes which of course makes it worse; caught in anger and not able to get out of it; using the emotion to manipulate another; the desire to retaliate.

Next, let's look at some keys to handling disturbed emotions. First key: Certainly the emotional behavior of our parents plays a dominant role in how we handle our emotions. Did our mother pout for days when she did not get her way? Did our father express anger frequently when faced with something challenging? --And so forth. Clearly we tend to copy our parents behavior unless we have reflected on it carefully and made a decision not to. Second key: Being honest with our self as to the state of emotion we are in is necessary. If we won't admit we are upset when we are, that makes it more difficult. Third key: Misery enjoys company. A common response to being upset and unhappy is to upset those around us. They have no right to be happy and smiling when I am miserable. This must be given up as well. Fourth key: Having actually succeeded a few times in pulling ourselves together quickly, convinces us that it can be done and starts to form a new habit pattern for responding to emotional disturbance. Lastly we have a quote from Gurudeva--It comes out of the Self God: Feel your mind, body and emotions and know that you are the effulgent being permeating through mind, which is all form; body, which you inhabit, and emotions which you either control or are controlled by.

Aum Namasivaya. Thank you very much. Coming along...

[End of transcription]

Photo of  Gurudeva
Some reactions are healthy; others are unhealthy. The reaction to a reaction is destructive, whereas the reaction itself, when viewed with a balanced mind, eventually becomes an asset.