Have you ever thought to yourself that your life will be just perfect when something in your outside world changes?
For example, “I will live happily ever after when I find my soul mate. After all, it worked so well in those fairy tales.”
How about, “When the perfect job comes along, then I will know fulfillment. My problem is that my boss is just a jerk.”
Or maybe you have thought to yourself,
“If I have a child, then I will know what it is like to be loved. Children love you unconditionally.”
The flaw in this approach is that it is not the outside world that prevents you from experiencing peace, love and joy. Instead, it is your own internal patterns that get in your way.
The Example Of The Flower
To illustrate this point, at my weekend programs, I have the audience sit quietly for a moment and look at a flower on my table. Then I ask them to share their experience.
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I’ve had participants report a state of complete joy because staring at the flower reminded them of their wedding or a cherished trip with a lover. Others have told me that the flower made them angry because it reminded them of a gift given by a former partner who betrayed them. I’ve even had multiple students tell me that the flower reminded them of their beloved grandmother’s garden with some shedding tears of joy and others crying tears of grief.
All the while, the flower sitting on my table was busy just being a flower.
Our mental and emotional patterns define whether each moment is filled with peace, anger, joy, love or grief. Think of it this way: in every situation you find yourself in, you are the one constant factor.
When you are not aware that it is your own mental and emotional state that is creating your experience, you blame the flowers in your life, i.e. the external circumstances. You then try to change those external circumstances only to end up in another situation that reminds you of the one you left.
How To Take Charge And Stop Getting In Your Own Way
Most aren’t taught that emotion is a choice, let alone given the tools to shift those lower emotional patterns such as anger, unworthiness, jealousy, anxiety, sadness, guilt and shame that cause us to suffer.
When you accept that you are accountable for your own state, and find the courage to turn inward, only then can you step out of being a slave to what shows up in your external world.
The next time you feel triggered by external circumstances, try the following practice.
1. Name the emotion that is present
When you feel a lower emotion based in fear such as anger, sadness, guilt, shame, unworthiness, anxiety, jealousy, or betrayal, stop and ask yourself what emotion you are feeling. If you don’t know what the emotion is, just give it any name.
Then say to yourself, “In this moment, I feel ______” and identify the emotion that is present.
2. Shift fear-based emotion
Now, allow yourself to fully feel that emotion. Don’t resist. Don’t react. No yelling, screaming, or throwing things. Just sit quietly while the emotion unfolds inside of you.
Sitting with the emotion and feeling it without reacting causes the emotion to dissipate. Harvard University has determined that the life span of an emotion is actually just ninety seconds unless you fuel the emotion by thinking about it.
In other words, don’t tell yourself why you were justified in having the emotion, or even about the person, place or thing that triggered it. Instead, just sit with the emotion without thinking about the circumstance, and in a matter of less then 90 seconds, you will start to feel much better.
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3. Mirror love-based emotion
When the fear-based emotion has significantly weakened, mirror a love-based emotion. As that lower emotion loses its hold, gently inhale from deep in your abdomen about two inches below the belly button and an inch back towards the spine.
As you breathe, affirm to yourself “I am” on the inhale and on the exhale affirm “peace.” Breathe this deep breath of “I am peace” over and over again and you will feel that experience of peace build inside of you.
With these three easy steps, you begin to get out of your own way. What has blocked you from knowing all that you intend for your life begins to shift and change. Now, what was once beyond your grasp becomes possible because of the new state, such as peace, joy or love that you have consciously chosen to cultivate.
With practice you develop the power to shift out of any emotion you choose in any situation. At that point, your life becomes an expression of the peace, joy, love and fulfillment that you have always desired. With these simple tools, you create the life of your dreams.
Joey Klein is an internationally known personal development expert, martial arts champion, and author of the book The Inner Matrix: A Guide to Transforming Your Life and Awakening Your Spirit. He travels the world teaching his technique of Conscious Transformation to support people in living healthy, happy, fulfilling lives.
Photo by MTSOfan