We value negative states because of the strong sense of self we get from them. This may be very difficult for us to see, but a strong light will show us the freeing facts. No one wants to believe that he or she values things like self-pity, anger, and depression. We would insist we don't, and as evidence we point to the fact that we fight against them, but the struggle gives us a false sense of life and importance. It focuses attention on us and makes us feel like the center of a great deal of activity.
The more we struggle, the more valuable these states become, because the more interesting and exciting they make us feel. We never feel our selves so strongly as when we are furious, or hurt, or depressed. Of course, this self is a created self, a false self. But it feels real, and that's why we cling to it. The power in the state is that by giving it our life, it feeds back to us a false sense of life and power. And as a result, we miss out on the real life we could experience if we were not filling ourselves with the false.
The next time you feel yourself slipping into a negative state, your new awareness of its dynamics will give you the "power" to unfix yourself from it. For example, suppose you’re asked to make a presentation to a large group of co-workers. It's still weeks before your talk, and you see that you're caught up in nervousness over it, which you perpetuate by thinking about it. But with new awareness you see that there is no value in any of this, so you try something new.
You refuse to give in to the feeling by sitting and shaking over it. And you refuse to struggle against it by putting on a false bravado and insisting you're not nervous at all. Instead, you just walk past it. "Proceed while being afraid," is author Vernon Howard's succinct instruction when faced with any scary obstruction.
This means just move forward without paying any attention to the state at all. You're aware that the nervousness is there, trying to take you over, but you don't do anything with it. You stop feeding it your life energy. As a result, your experience of giving the talk is not at all as traumatic as your imagination had tried to tell you it would be.
This new understanding placed into practice works with any negative state, from loneliness to anger or anything else. Don't stop to argue with it or deny it. Just go past it. You can do this when you understand that the only thing keeping you involved with the state is you.
It's really all very simple, but only if we're willing to leave ourselves behind. We have to leave behind the false self that sees the state through its eyes and attributes it with power. We have to see that negative states have no business being in our business, and they won't be if we don't get fixed on them.
This article is excerpted from "The Intimate Enemy" by Guy Finley
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