If you’re like most people, you’d probably agree that there are good feelings, and there are bad feelings.
If I gave you a list of feelings, you’d probably have a pretty easy time categorizing them as good or bad. For example:
|Feeling||Good or bad?|
In reality, there’s no such thing as a “good” or “bad” feeling. Feelings just ARE. You experience them, and they cause you to take action.
The kind of action you take determines whether the feeling was a good one or a bad one for you…
For example, if you’re angry, do you slam your fist into the wall? Might not be such a good thing for the wall, your wallet, or your fist (ouch).
But if anger causes you to run out in the street after your toddler, all the while yelling…and that stops a driver from hitting said toddler…it’s a pretty good thing.
And you can tell stories about other emotions in the same way.
So, emotions are sorta useful. But also, they sometimes make us feel like crap.
A friend walks into a room and doesn’t so much as look at you. You might feel anger, or hurt, or fear…why are they ignoring you?
A colleague brings in a cake for their birthday…and there are no slices left for you. You might feel left out. Unloved. Hurt. Pain. You don’t matter to them. They don’t care about you.
So…let’s take a step back and figure out what actually happens to create emotions. They FEEL instant. In a way, they are instant. But there’s a missing step.
It’s not EVENT –> EMOTION.
Events can’t make you feel anything.
Here’s an example Lefkoe uses a lot and I think it explains perfectly why events can’t make you feel anything. Check out these three scenarios:
- You’re sitting in bed, reading a book. You plan on reading all day. How does the rain make you feel?
- It’s your wedding day and you have an outdoor wedding planned. How does the rain make you feel?
- You’re a farmer, and there’s been a drought. How does the rain make you feel?
In the first example, the rain likely doesn’t make you feel anything. It doesn’t affect your plans for the day.
In the second, the rain probably makes you feel upset in some way. It’s interfering with your wedding, what just might be the biggest day of your life!
And in the final illustration, the rain probably makes you feel a great deal of joy. Your plants will survive!
In truth, the rain doesn’t make you feel anything. It’s what you tell yourself about the rain that makes you feel something.
“It’s irrelevant,” “It’s going to ruin my wedding” or “Thank the heavens, my soybean plants will survive!”
So again, it isn’t EVENT –> EMOTION.
It’s EVENT –> YOUR INTERPRETATION –> EMOTION.
The same is true about everything in your life.
Your friend walks into the room and ignores you. You might think, “he’s angry with me,” and that might cause you to feel fear. Or shame. Or guilt. Or you might think, “he’s such an asshole!” which would cause you to feel anger. And when you feel that anger, you might turn towards your friend and yell, “Stop being such an ass!”
But what if you thought, “Boy, he’s so caught up in his thoughts he doesn’t even see me!” You probably wouldn’t feel any “negative” emotions. You’d just laugh it off.
There are a lot of directions I can take from here…but here’s where I wanted to take you when I started this.
I’m currently re-taking the Lefkoe Freedom Course. It’s a course that teaches you, through practice, to calm your mind and stop taking things personally all the time.
In essence, it helps you learn to pay attention to the moment you make meaning. So when your friend walks into the room and ignores you…before you start yelling at him to “stop ignoring me, you ass!” you take a quick, automatic step back and consider that maybe there’s another reason he isn’t talking to you. Maybe he doesn’t see you. Or he’s trying to remember something. Or maybe he really IS angry with you, but you can’t tell from his actions.
And when you don’t automatically jump to a conclusion…you don’t create meaning, and there is also no emotion as a result. No emotion means no “automatic” reaction either. You get to consider the situation and choose your next step.
5 years ago when I took the LFC, it completely changed my life. It improved my relationship with my wife. I stopped reacting to everything. It also greatly reduced the fear and anxiety that I carried with me everywhere.
Today, I’m retaking it because I want to force myself to “practice” more, and the course is a great incentive to do that.
I’d love for you to join me. See what your life can be like when you stop reacting. When things stop being “personal.” It’s more amazing than you might imagine.