Learning the art of responding to life’s events, even mistakes, rather than reacting takes time, patience and a deep intention of doing no harm.
Instead of reacting from old knee jerk reactions it’s much more rewarding to pause first, reflect on where our action will take us, and respond in a new more appropriate way that will move us towards happiness.
Each time we find ourselves wanting to blame ourselves or someone else for a mistake, we need to recognize old patterns that won’t lead to a positive future, and then return to the drawing board for a fresh start.
The emotion we call anger is a wake-up call telling us that something needs to be done. Blame is a projection of this anger. By projecting the anger outside of us we can’t discover what went amiss—what belief our expectation was based upon.
Beliefs are the roots of our thoughts and actions, and unless these underlying motives are examined so that we can see them for what they are, old patterns that lead to suffering, we will continue along the same road. Not a happy one, either.
Teilhard de Chardin, Jesuit Priest, renowned paleontologist, whose life’s purpose was to discover how evolution works said, “When an energy runs amok, it must be brought back to the drawing board.”
For this is what evolution does. It examines to find out what led the energy astray and then creates a more efficient path to go forward.
In his ground breaking book, The Phenomenon of Man, Teilhard states that we, as the energy of the universe, are always evolving by finding the ways that don’t work, noting when we are on a “dead end street,” and then returning to our starting point to create a new workable path into the future.
Each time we find ourselves off course (for that is what a mistake is) we need to come back to the drawing board of our heart and mind and begin again.
First we acknowledge the mistake.
If we don’t recognize and admit we have stepped off the path of our deepest intentions, we will continue along the wrong road and with each step it will be harder to find our way back.
I was raised to believe making a mistake was shameful. Best to try to hide it from others and blame someone. And quickly.
As a result I’ve had a lot of shame to deal with.
I have made it part of my life work to uncover shame, regret, sadness and anger, by bringing these emotions out of the shadows and into the healing light.
For it is the light of truth that dissolves anything unlike itself. I can’t make it go away. The light of awareness does this.
Negative emotions simply can’t live in the bright, radiant beam of awareness. It is as if we have lit a candle in a dark room and the darkness disappears. The light of awareness dissolves anger and shame.
This allows wisdom to emerge.
Mistakes have become stepping stones to wisdom.
Emotions are energy in motion. We can observe them arising and passing away as we sit in the silence and allow them to become conscious.
Consciousness of these darker emotions keeps them from repeating over and over in a habitual manner.
To do this we must go where feelings reside—in our body and our heart, ignoring the stories ruminating in our intellect.
The intellect wants to distract ourselves from the pain of feeling, experiencing, these negative emotions.
The stories these emotions bring up are just the content. If we entertain the story we avoid healing, and simply react in the old worn out ways.
No new path into a more beautiful future can emerge.
Transformation occurs as we stop the story, shutting our mouths, and allowing ourselves to feel the emotions by going directly into the body where the emotions are taking place.
Then we ask ourselves what our attitude is.
Attitudes are our views of life, our states of mind. Attitudes point us in a direction. Examples are “struggling with, grappling with, angry about.”
We need to make the effort again and again to become aware of these attitudes without listening to the story that fairly shouts at us for attention.
The healing does not lie within the story, or by trying to figure out a solution.
As we explore the thoughts and beliefs the emotions are connected to by asking new questions, we begin to see these beliefs are not the Truth with a capital T, but just a view of life given us by the “big” people when we were very young.
It is now time to bring the light of awareness into them seeing how this belief may have been helpful at some time, but today something greater is needed.
As we sincerely do this we will notice a sense of compassion arises. We begin to see that we simply have been off course, but that we were doing the best we could. No one is to blame.
Do we want to stay in the prison of unquestioned negative emotions?
Or do we want to move into new territory? It’s called the unknown.
It takes courage to stay in the unknown, for it doesn’t hold the comfort of the known, the familiar.
It’s new and will call forth a different behavior that we are not quite sure of. It requires awareness as we wait for the new course of action to be revealed.
Habits don’t require anything. We can stay lazy and just react.
But when we are in unknown territory we must stay alert.
We breathe, we watch, we note our attitude. Negative ways of perceiving will take us back into unhappiness. They do not relieve suffering.
We wait in the silence.
In this sacred place of the unknown, something new begins to arise. It is like a slender thread, and is very shy. We must wait quietly.
As we wait and watch we notice there is one single thread that shines, vibrates, just a little more brightly than the others, beckoning us.
We need only take hold of this one little thread and let it guide us, for it is a stepping stone into wisdom.