This is how I try to deal with “disturbances” which may come in the form of anger, resentment, annoyance, irritation etc.
If I managed to recognise that I’m “disturbed” or perhaps in modern day slang #triggered. That’s a great start, as it means I’ve managed to take a small step back from my thoughts into the the seat of consciousness.
Recognising is not always easy, because thoughts and emotions happen so quick before you realise it. To be conscious means you are able to see yourself from outside your thoughts. Like you’ve climbed up a mountain and are now looking down at yourself, observing with curiosity.
This is an analogy of how to picture the symmetry between gratitude and resentment mentioned in chapter 7 of Howells (2012):
Resentment lives in the dark depths of the cave, where it is impossible for gratitude to survive. Gratitude lives at the edge of the cave where it is bathed in light and sunshine. When resentment comes into the light it dies. The warmth of gratitude melts resentment. Each time we step away from resentment, even by identifying it within ourselves, we step towards gratitude, towards the light. (p. 103)
I like it. It’s similar to the idea of bringing our shadows into the light, something I recently got to learn more about from a friend.
The idea that we can embrace our shadows is liberating. And shadows are also what I see “disturbances” as.
I heard on a podcast on how to release those shadows, which you can also see them as thorns under your skin. They are hidden and subconscious but you will know when they have been disturbed. Our natural tendency is to push the thorn back down, but that doesn’t solve the problem. We should let it out, simply by leaning away from it (observing with curiosity) and letting the body naturally push it out onto the surface – just like how our body rejects splinters in our nails.
Sometimes identifying by naming your shadows reduces its power on you. Tim Ferriss once mentioned a good tip for this, he said when he’s standing in a long line for the counter at a shop and he’s starting to get impatient and feel that negative energy rising, he says quietly to himself “impatient impatient impatient”. And sometimes that makes it go away.
Just like the cave analogy, we don’t need to try to replace resentment with gratitude, we can simply focus on things we already feel grateful for, or recognise the goodness of a person or situation. By allowing gratitude to up space, resentment goes away. That’s because
you can’t simultaneously feel grateful and angry at the same time – Tony Robbins.
Howells, K. (2012) Gratitude in Education.