The seed of suffering in you may be strong, but don't wait until you have
no more suffering before allowing yourself to be happy. Thich Nhat Hanh
An interesting statement that kept regurgitating in my consciousness during the week was with a fellow therapist over stress. We both agreed that once you get used to heightened levels of stress they become normalized and we have no idea we are stressed.
Stress is a normal function of the human condition, it’s the whole flight or fight scenario to keep us alive. However, it’s getting to a tipping point of mismanagement and we need to educate ourselves on where we sit on the stress scale.
Hypervigilance is a heightened level of stress which occurs often due to trauma and is a major factor for those with PTSD. Sooner or later your health is likely to suffer. Stress is a physical response caused by an emotional reaction to a feeling you couldn’t deal with. You are reacting because you don’t like something and you cope to deal with it. There is always an emotion running underneath stress.
It is really important to learn to deal with your emotional landscape before it manifests as physical problems. Did you know that 95% of ailments presented at the doctor’s office are stress related? That is a horrific statistic and one that requires us all to reflect on our own way of handling tension.
When we are young, fit and agile we are able to more easily cope with challenges. Often we brush things off, or we try harder and push through our limitations. This is a normal function of overcoming difficulties and just getting on with it. When we get older and our body is not as strong, those stresses we were holding onto start to become a problem. Our body weakens and can no longer manage to stay healthy.
In adulthood, we can still attract events that trigger a stress response if we’ve not learned how to manage difficult situations. As adults, however, because our bodies are weaker, our defences are compromised, illness can be the result. Did you know in children and adults, autoimmune disease is common? The myriad of autoimmune diseases and there are around 80 different types, have stress as a primary cause, alongside diet, our environment and genetics?
Being triggered means you are having a negative response to an event that has similarities to a past experience you’ve not dealt with.
Trauma in childhood will carry over into adulthood if you’ve not learned how to cope with the event that created the trauma. As adults, we are likely to be triggered when a similar experience occurs. Being an adult doesn’t mean you have solved life’s problems. It is likely you have become a high functioning stress head and you don’t know it. Your hypervigilance has probably become normalized.
Emotions are chemicals in the body that we become addicted to. And this addiction drives us to have more and more of the chemical which is more of the reaction. When someone is wallowing in their emotions they could in fact be feeding an addiction.
Let’s look at the two primary emotional afflictions that have become common – depression and anxiety.
Depression is created by ruminating on the past. The emotions of regret and disappointment fester inside usually resulting in a regurgitation of the same stories over and over in your mind. Thoughts are based on things like not having the opportunity to achieve something. Or it can be an overwhelming fear of stepping out which creates a freeze in action. Not achieving things that you had the opportunity to do but didn’t do, then self-bashing occurs. Down and down you go with feelings of helplessness.
When you were helpless as a child and carry that through to your adult years, you are depressed about having been helpless, and you are anxious about a possible future that may repeat the helplessness.
There are so many scenarios on what creates depression. Primarily it relates to not being able to get what you wanted or needed or not being wilful enough to act on your ideas. All of these feelings relate to past events.
Anxiety is ruminating on what could happen in the future, based on the past. Notice that this future has not happened, but we create thoughts of a possibility, that if you stepped into a form of action then something terrible is going to happen. Notice how your thoughts are creating this possibility. Fear of the unknown and wanting to control possible negative outcomes will render you frozen in time. You are going nowhere, treading water and regurgitating scenarios of dread.
Anxiety and worry go together and underneath is anger. If you can get control over your anger you can also get control of your anxiety. Note that usually underneath anger is hurt – you didn’t like what hurt you, you couldn’t deal with it and then you get angry. Between the past and the future, we have busied our lives based on fear. You’re either depressed because of something in the past you couldn’t deal with and have a malaise because of all those lost opportunities, or you are swamped by anxiety for fear of a future that hasn’t happened but is based on the past. Hmmm!
Take some time to understand why you get anxiety. There could be an addiction to the emotion of anger and anxiety which was probably never in your realm of consciousness.
“It’s the chemical imbalance that’s the problem” How often have you heard that term as an excuse for what’s wrong in life? Emotions as addiction are something to ponder. You know those situations where you get together with a friend and all you do is complain about what he said or she said. You offload your crap and they offload theirs. You are actually getting an emotional high from it. That’s disturbing. Any wonder people like to complain – it’s giving a chemical response and you are enjoying it
What you need to know about this disturbing chemical storm, is that you are actually reinforcing each other’s negative experiences. This is justifying your own behaviour and when it’s negative behaviour you are determining your future based on the past. This diatribe of exchanging opinions and complaints is toxic to you because you are reinforcing your experience. The people you are complaining about are likely oblivious to your rantings. Who is suffering because of your behaviour? You are.
What needs to happen is to stop and find the solution to reactions before getting to the more difficult and heavy emotions. We are adults now and we need to find strategies to not be helpless. This requires growing up emotionally. Emotional maturity is the ability to cope with situations without falling in a heap.
Covering the emotion to avoid pain
Binging on sugar, alcohol or coffee is like self-medication. Whether we binge on food, alcohol, or wallow in our emotions, what we are doing is avoiding the feelings that come with emotions. Pain is uncomfortable whether it’s physical or emotional.
We would much rather have pleasure than endure suffering. Yet this is the human condition. Happiness is the reflected opposite of suffering. If we didn’t know the pain of suffering we would not know happiness.
Anxiety comes when we don’t want to suffer, we avoid having emotions and avoid the pain. Depression happens because we did suffer and we wished it didn’t happen. Egads! Both states of mind are miserable ways of being so you might as well learn to deal with emotions and feelings as a mature pathway to having a pleasurable life.
We need to understand our physiology more. Not only is it the food and drink we consume and the environment we live in, but it’s also our emotional responses that play a major part in our moods, impulses, addictions and overall health.
There is discomfort in overcoming triggers however, expanding your comfort zone helps push you toward a more expanded and pleasurable life experience. Finding a balance of overcoming challenges yet not overstressing is key to a more fulfilling healthier and happier life.
What is your barometer for measuring your stress levels and balancing them with a calm state of mind?
If you're a stress head and have difficulty managing your emotions and feelings, to help you overcome your fallen ego consider the Essar Program. Suffering does not need to be your default state of being. The focus of the program is on self-awareness and awakening at a deep level. You will be guided toward changing your perspective and identity which means sifting through your reactive difficulties so you can move toward your higher Ego.
Awareness entails seeing where your challenges are in life, your difficulties, and your struggles. As well as dismantling what no longer works for you, together we will reveal the true essence of who you are. The strengths you have will be highlighted and brought out in real terms in a practical way to help you navigate more confidently in the world. Do you know who you are when you are at your best? What would life be like if your happy moments happened more often?
Essar is an angelic presence who is on this journey with me. Together we will guide you to finding your true self to make your life better? Contact me for further details.