You can move through a well-lit room much faster than a dark room, right? That’s because you’re able to see the layout and to choose the best path. Sort of a “dah” statement when awareness centers on the tangible and objective, but not as obvious when we think about the subjective environments of thoughts and feelings.
How did that happen?
A child first becomes aware of his body and develops intentionality of movement. At this point he is still unaware of many things, including his thoughts and feelings, so as far as he can tell, those things “just happen to him.” Awareness then extends to his feelings and he learns to name them, “I’m happy.” “I’m sad,” etc. Naming his feelings gives him a measure of control. Around the time he’s ready for school he can begin to identify thoughts, too, and gains the ability to think intentionally—to choose what he thinks about.
Many of us (including me at times) only use intentionality of thought and feeling some of the time; some feelings still seem to “just happen to us.” You’ll know you’re in this place when you find yourself saying things like, “You’re making me so angry!”
Hey, that’s not fair!
When I first became aware of the absolute control I have over my thoughts and feelings, I was angry; how unfair it felt that I should be held responsible for my anger when another person frustrated me! It felt unfair because I had never been taught how to use my intentionality in the realm of feeling before. As I practiced directing my thoughts and feelings I began to strengthen this muscle. Believe me; it takes a while to get good at this level of intentionality and you’re going to hit a few bumps on the road. It takes time to learn how to turn-off the blame-reflex and turn-on creativity. Start your practice with small easy things first, like that person in front of you at the traffic light who isn’t paying attention quick enough to the green light. The urge to honk will be overwhelming at first—especially if the guy behind you honks. Just practice and watch how much better you feel about your life in general.
One final thought about awareness
No matter the level of awareness you attain, no matter how broad your perspective and vast your experience and empathy, there will always be something more you could be aware of. Anything in life that seems to “just happen to you,” or when outside events trigger emotions you’re unable to control; it’s because you have a dark room somewhere outside your awareness. When you become aware of the reason why certain events trigger unwanted feelings (often unrelated past events that hum in the back of your mind) you become aware of your choices and gain control over your feelings.
Awareness Creates Choice
Choice Creates a Life Worth Living
In what ways would your life change if you had more choice about how you feel, how you behave, and the kinds of people and situations you attract or become attracted to? Do you believe you’re limited in just how much control you can have over feelings like: frustration, anger, love, or happiness? Do you think a person can choose to be accepting and calm in the face of very frustrating situations? We will be grateful for your thoughts and a few examples from your life, so please share.
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