Understanding How The Mind Works, Inner Freedom, and Loving Relationships — what do they all have in common?
Last week’s blog focused on getting comfortable with the ups and downs of the human experience and how that benefits relationships. I scheduled my blog in my newsletter to send on Monday morning, and for the second time, in a not very long period of time, my website went down on a Monday so none of the links in my newsletter worked. This came after a very challenging Father’s Day with one daughter saying she does not feel supported by Angus and me, and accusing us of being irresponsible parents because we have not provided her with a foundation for living in the world. And the day culminated with Angus and I exchanging angry words and criticizing each other.
It was perfect timing for me to get more comfortable with my human experience and to see the ripple effect of that in my relationships.
It is common to think a deeper understanding of human psychology and a more profound feeling of connection with the spiritual nature behind life will make day-to-day living easier. And, in my experience, it does overall. However this doesn’t spare me from having challenges and very human moments where I don’t live up to my best.
As I reflect on this now sitting in the experience of a tight stomach and watching my mind look toward thoughts of worry, what I am grateful for is the peace that results from knowing I am okay even with this experience. It is because of understanding how my mind works that I relax. My experience no longer scares me. I can let my mind do its thing without adding additional stress and worry by trying to change or control my emotional experience. I know my thoughts and emotions will take care of themselves. There is a self-correcting mechanism built into the human design.
Understanding this allows me to relax and stay open while having all of my human experience-whether comfortable or not. Even though my thoughts are telling me: “There is so much to do. I am behind. How am I going to get everything done by Thursday when we go away?” – and I don’t like feeling this way – I am grateful to be okay with all of it. I am glad I can allow it and that I am not panicked about being in a low mood or anxious. I am also not beating myself up for losing my temper yesterday and for being unkind toward Angus — on Father’s Day of all days! I am not proud of it, but I am also not engulfed by shame and feelings of unworthiness.
The difference now from before I came across the understanding of the Principles is that by simply by knowing that my experience is temporary and subjective and that my mood changing is normal – I can relax in the midst of it all. I know things won’t always look the way they do right now. I am aware that I won’t always feel the way I do right now. I know I don’t need to do anything special for this to be the case because this is just how the human system works. It is how we all function. Seeing this allows me to stay open.
It is paradoxical to what I used to think. I used to think I needed to fix my feelings and my human experience in order to be okay. All that this did was make me feel more screwed up because I could never fix myself. Now, I stay open to my humanness and allow my feelings to be what they are. Thus I experience more internal freedom and a quicker bounce back as a result.
Who knew? I certainly didn’t!
I now have more perspective. I know my negative thoughts and less than ideal behavior does not define me. I see that perfection is not required for worthiness. And I recognize that beating myself up does not draw out my best. It just adds more pressure and that increases the risk of poor behavior.
Understanding our human psychology-rather than processing and delving into the content of our thoughts and feelings-provides perspective that opens the mind to what is the source of our human experience. And even in a state of disturbance, I can have a feeling of being connected to that source. I am not feeling happy in this moment, but I am well. I know it is most fruitful to do nothing, to stay open and to look in the direction of the formless source because that is where new understanding comes from. That is where the impersonal feeling of love resides and there is wisdom in that.
My state of mind does not have to get in the way of my life. I will still go about my day communicating with people and being of service to clients. It is freeing to know that my job is not to fix my psychology, nor do I need to worry about my state of mind being an issue impairing my life. A low mood isn’t a problem, nor does it have to equate to high levels of suffering the way it used to.
Lack of suffering does not cause people to behave worse. It draws out the best in them.
My lack of suffering during upsetting situations does not get in the way of me wanting to get things back on track with my daughter or to reconnect with Angus. Suffering is not what brings out the best in humans. This may sound obvious, but many people, myself included in the past, believe that self-punishment, pushing, and being hard on oneself is what is required to excel in life. Many believe that this is what is required for success, and if you let yourself just be, you will devolve into a lazy, no-good, worthless, unproductive human being who will be rejected and unloved.
When this is believed it creates tremendous anxiety and insecurity. Our human need to experience love is innate. In Bruce Perry’s book Born for Love, he writes about how our drive for love is hard wired because our physical survival has been so dependent on community from antiquity. This biological drive is the innate intelligence behind life expressing itself. As such it does not make sense to do anything to threaten the experience of connection and loving bonds with others. So if we believe we need to be hard on ourselves and improve ourselves in order to be lovable, we will do that with a vengeance and suffer as a result.
The trouble is-rather than this bringing out the best in us-the pressure we exert on ourselves through pushing and striving causes stress and constriction. This gets in the way of optimal performance. Anxiety and insecurity limit our functioning. Stress brings out the worst in us, especially where relationships are concerned.
Personal relationships are often the area where people let off steam even when they don’t want to. We tend to hurt the people we love the most. The solution, however, is simple.
When you see that the wisdom inside of you is your best teacher rather than pain and suffering being the path to growth and learning-you will look in that direction. You will look within to deeper knowing. You will look to the intangible space of your true nature for greater understanding. There is no need to be hard on yourself to make you a better person. Your capacity to learn and grow is innate. Insights and realizations arrive naturally. Your consciousness is designed to open. Pain and suffering are not needed for that to happen. Letting go, relaxing and looking in the direction of your true self is aligned with that.
This is why understanding how your mind works is conducive to learning and growth and beneficial for loving relationships. When you understand the natural flow and innate recalibration built into your psychology — you relax. This ease draws out the best qualities in you. Your innate empathy, compassion, and loving nature come to the forefront. They are who you are at core, and they naturally rise to the surface. When you let the emotional ripples of reactivity naturally settle, your true nature of love shines through and relationships are easy.
As Bruce Perry writes, we are all designed for love. The only thing that gets in the way is when we take our insecure thinking seriously. But, when you see insecure thoughts for what they are — distorted, transitory thinking — you can allow them and not lose your bearings. You can have reactive thoughts and feelings without them driving your behavior. And when they do, as they did for me, you can remember that your upset thoughts and behavior do not define you. Your true nature is love, and love is a creative force that can always be expressed. Your essence does not change. It is always there to come home to. This makes riding the choppy waves of emotional experience more graceful and self-compassion more available. In this context, loving relationships are the natural by-product. They do not need to be worked on or created. They just what happens.
Rohini Ross is passionate about helping people wake up to their full potential. She is a transformative coach, leadership consultant, a regular blogger for Thrive Global, and author of the short-read Marriage (The Soul-Centered Series Book 1) available on Amazon. You can get her free eBook Relationships here. Rohini has an international coaching and consulting practice based in Los Angeles helping individuals, couples, and professionals embrace all of who they are so they can experience greater levels of well-being, resiliency, and success. She is also the founder of The Soul-Centered Series: Psychology, Spirituality, and the Teachings of Sydney Banks. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and watch her Vlogs with her husband. To learn more about her work go to her website, rohiniross.com.