Negative Emotions, Thoughts And How to Counteract Them

luc

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It also seems to help if people can mention outloud that they're feeling this way I think. It's good for others who may not be in the same state to reassure them that it will pass when they're battling against something.
I agree, this can be a good idea. If we can manage it though, sometimes it's even better to try not to express our negativity at all, and kind of pretend it's not there by acting against it. Problem is, people who know us well usually can tell when something's not right, so then it can be helpful to apologize and explain the situation, while still doing our best not to indulge in the negativity or even use it as an excuse for bad behavior.
 

Border Dog

Padawan Learner
If we can manage it though, sometimes it's even better to try not to express our negativity at all, and kind of pretend it's not there by acting against it.
I'm quoting this to remark an wise hint, I suppose it's a Chinese proverb:

don't fight against dragons, because before you can do that, you need to become one

for me at least in part, this can means that "dragons" are extremely violent, dangerous, etc.
few chances of win the fight and many chances to be hurt (symbolically speaking, indeed)

so if we (symbolically) think that destruction is negative and construction is positive, these
big reptiles that spit fire and can fly out of our reach, the proverb makes a lot of sense ..
 

Aeneas

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
One thing that helps me when I'm feeling gloomy, down and depressed for whatever reason (can be a "programmed reaction" to some stimulus, but it can also be for no discernible reason at all), is just to remind myself that "this, too, shall pass". It's pretty straight-forward, and yet surprisingly difficult. I mean, we all KNOW from multiple experiences that we can be totally depressed, and suddenly feel very happy and content, within weeks, days or even hours. And yet we always forget that, and allow things to throw us into misery even though we KNOW that in hindsight we will just shake our heads about our silliness. Not that there are not real reasons for being depressed, but as Joe said, more often than not, it's just an internal state we choose to indulge in.
Your post reminded me of an old wisdom story, which I believe was originally of Sufi origin, but perhaps older. It can help to bring things in perspective:

A king was getting old and of course, worried and concerned about death. One day, he could not sleep the whole night long; he was continuously thinking of death. He has killed thousands of people himself; he has been a great conqueror – what has happened to him? Why has he become so cowardly? The death of the other does not matter to you, but your own death matters.

In the morning, he called his wise men and asked them: ”If I fall into a situation where you are not available to advise me and I don’t see any way out, I would like you to make a small suggestion that I can put under the big diamond in my ring.” The ring was made with an opening device, so he could look underneath the diamond and read the message.

They were at a loss. This was something very difficult – just one sentence, for millions of situations. How can there be one answer for all the questions? Only a man like me can say, ”Yes, not only that – there is only one answer for all questions; there cannot be even two.”

They were worried and puzzled, but one old man suggested something and that appealed to them, so they brought it to the king. He was not to see it – the condition was that he was not to see it. He was not to open it just out of curiosity. He was to open it in a real danger, when there is no other possibility for him, when he cannot figure it out, when he’s simply stuck and knows nothing about what to do. Only in such emergencies, when life is at stake should he open the ring and read the message.

And by chance, the time to read it came very soon, just after fifteen days. The neighboring country invaded. They had been invaded by this king many times, defeated many times. They were boiling with anger and violence and humiliation and insult. For ten years, they had been training their people and this time they were determined: ”Either we take over the kingdom of the enemy or we are not going to come back home alive.”

And when somebody, even if he is beaten, has such an idea in the mind, he’s no longer weak. He is far stronger than your strongest people.

They fought as the king had never seen anybody fight… because the king and his soldiers were just fighting to defend, but the enemy was fighting to gain self-respect. They had lost their integrity, and even at the cost of life it had to be regained – even if the whole country dies!

The king lost the war. Somehow he escaped to the mountains on his horse, but the enemies were following. He was alone and he could hear many troops of horses following him and the noise was coming closer and closer. He was running as fast as the poor horse could run, because he was wounded, almost at the point of death. But the greatest difficulty came when they reached the end of the road – that road was not going anywhere! It only came to this spot where tourists used to come. It was a very scenic situation, but it was death to the king – he could not go anywhere.

Underneath, there was a rocky valley thousands of feet deep. If he jumped into it, he would be finished. And he could not return because it was a small road….

Then he suddenly saw the diamond shining in the sun, and remembered, opened the diamond, read the message. The message was very small but very great. The message was: ”This too will pass away.”

Just let the idea sink in your heart: This too will pass away. So there is no need to be worried. In life, there is nothing permanent.

Everything is changing. You could not have thought, fifteen days before, that you would be in this situation. You cannot think what your situation will be after fifteen days. Don’t be worried: This too will pass. Everything passes by.

It had a great effect on the man. He relaxed, he forget all about those people following him. He said, ”I have never come to this spot. It is perhaps one of the most beautiful spots around the capital and I might have missed it if I had not been defeated by the enemy. This beauty is worth losing the whole kingdom for.” He enjoyed the beauty… and after a few minutes he became aware that the noise of the horses and the enemy coming was receding: ”Perhaps they have moved into some other part of the mountains, but certainly they are not on this footpath.”

He gathered his armies, he fought again. He won his kingdom back, and when he was received at the elephant gate of the capital, the whole capital was just festivity. Everybody was rejoicing the victory. Flowers were being thrown on the king from every house, from every place. People were dancing, singing, playing on their instruments. And for a moment the king said, just inside himself, ”It is not so easy to defeat me.” And he saw a subtle ego arising with all this reception and celebration.

Again, the big diamond was shining in the light and he remembered it. He opened it. He read it again: ”This too will pass.” He became silent. His face went through a total change – from the egoist he moved to a state of utter humbleness.

If this too is going to pass, it is not yours.

The defeat was not yours, the victory is not yours.

The death was not yours, the life is not yours.

You are just a watcher. Everything passes by.

----
 

Aeneas

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I'm quoting this to remark an wise hint, I suppose it's a Chinese proverb:

don't fight against dragons, because before you can do that, you need to become one

for me at least in part, this can means that "dragons" are extremely violent, dangerous, etc.
few chances of win the fight and many chances to be hurt (symbolically speaking, indeed)
Jordan Peterson often says that we are monsters and that it is amazing that we can live fairly civilized without killing each other. So the first step is to recognize that we are monsters or rather that it is within us rather than deny it. So what I am getting at is that the dragon is not something that we have to become, as it is already within us. It can however be useful when fighting dragons, and when this monster that we have inside is under conscious control and no longer running wild, then it can defeat monsters or dragons if you like. And so we are back to Gurdjieffs story of the master, the coachman, the carriage and the horses. Trough knowledge and awareness to truly become the master of our own ship.
 

Tuatha de Danaan

Jedi Master
Of course, one should never stop being aware of what IS, but then that makes it all the more worthwhile to be AWARE and, at the same time, to love what COULD BE
I keep going back to this quote of Laura's and I totally get what she says and means. My difficulty is the what COULD BE. When I think of what COULD BE, I get the nagging feeling I'm wishful thinking.

How can I construct my thoughts in such a way as to let the Universe decide what would be the optimum future unrestricted by my feeble ideas ?
 

Pashalis

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Jordan Peterson often says that we are monsters and that it is amazing that we can live fairly civilized without killing each other. So the first step is to recognize that we are monsters or rather that it is within us rather than deny it. So what I am getting at is that the dragon is not something that we have to become, as it is already within us. It can however be useful when fighting dragons, and when this monster that we have inside is under conscious control and no longer running wild, then it can defeat monsters or dragons if you like. And so we are back to Gurdjieffs story of the master, the coachman, the carriage and the horses. Trough knowledge and awareness to truly become the master of our own ship.
Yes. If you want to put it another way, you could say that the monster is the "criminal mind" (see forum thread about the two books associated with it) and that one of the hardest things in life is to become conscious of those horrible patterns inside us and then actively work against those impulses. Most people never come to that point ever. It is no wonder why people who get a glimpse of this "terror of the situation" end up depressed more often than not. It is quite a thing to realize how much of a monster we can be at every given moment. It is actually a very scary and nightmarish realization. Having said that, I think it is also fairly easy to beat oneself over the head too much and thereby making the situation worse rather than better. Especially in severe cases like this, it is always good to try to be compassionate and caring with oneself, as if one is counselling a good friend. Also, this aspect is much harder done than said.
 

alkhemst

Jedi Council Member
I keep going back to this quote of Laura's and I totally get what she says and means. My difficulty is the what COULD BE. When I think of what COULD BE, I get the nagging feeling I'm wishful thinking.

How can I construct my thoughts in such a way as to let the Universe decide what would be the optimum future unrestricted by my feeble ideas ?
I'm not sure exactly but what if at every moment it comes down to a basic choice between:

A) I can make no difference - people won't change, society, those that rule and power structures are too fixed. And human nature is flawed anyway. Ultimately, we're all doomed. Overall, I have little to no impact. All in all, I hold no responsibility.
B) I make a difference - I make choices so I can change, we are part of society with many others that can change too. That means we all create what human nature could be. No one has more power than me over my own feelings, thoughts and actions. Every little choice I have has an impact and makes a difference. I can't as yet even fathom just how much that is. But all in all, I am fully responsible.

Out of the two choice I'd go with choice B as the one that loves what could be.
 

Chu

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I keep going back to this quote of Laura's and I totally get what she says and means. My difficulty is the what COULD BE. When I think of what COULD BE, I get the nagging feeling I'm wishful thinking.

How can I construct my thoughts in such a way as to let the Universe decide what would be the optimum future unrestricted by my feeble ideas ?
Well, for one, you can love what COULD BE, but without anticipation, since it is when you anticipate or decide that that is what SHOULD BE, that wishful thinking enters the scene. You can love what COULD BE, but tell yourself (and believe it as much as possible) that you trust that whatever the outcome, the Universe knows what it is doing, and there are reasons behind it that we cannot always comprehend.

There are other ideas along these lines in this other thread: Does anticipating something reduce its probability?

FWIW, if I understood what you were asking!
 

Wandering Star

Jedi Master
Well, for one, you can love what COULD BE, but without anticipation, since it is when you anticipate or decide that that is what SHOULD BE, that wishful thinking enters the scene. You can love what COULD BE, but tell yourself (and believe it as much as possible) that you trust that whatever the outcome, the Universe knows what it is doing, and there are reasons behind it that we cannot always comprehend.

There are other ideas along these lines in this other thread: Does anticipating something reduce its probability?

FWIW, if I understood what you were asking!
Yes ... We will do what we will do!:-)
 

Carl

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Yeah, it's pretty weird how when we're depressed, our depressed perception encompasses everything (past, present and future) and we think that the way we see things in that state is the way they always were and ALWAYS will be. This is where critical thinking comes in, where we constate to ourselves that this is NOT true, and remind ourselves that, just a few days ago, we saw things totally differently, which raises the question of what is true or real and what is not. The answer to that question seems ultimately to center on choice.
Yes it is actually a very hard thing to even know which "I" is correct in its assessment about things. There can often be a night and day difference in my view of a situation depending on emotional state. The idea of it being a matter of choice is something I haven't really considered, but mapping out the results of behaving like this it seems it would be positive for a person over all.

For example, one "I" sees that there may be very good things in the future, and another "I" cannot see any good things in the future - only bad. The end result is probably in most cases better if you choose and go with the assumption that there will be good things in the future and use that to motivate or override the depressed negative "I".

Of course there's nuance to that and every situation is different.
 

beetlemaniac

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
For example, one "I" sees that there may be very good things in the future, and another "I" cannot see any good things in the future - only bad. The end result is probably in most cases better if you choose and go with the assumption that there will be good things in the future and use that to motivate or override the depressed negative "I".
I think when we make the assumption in a conscious way that the future is a place of boundless possibility while simultaneously cultivating a feeling of wonder and curiosity towards it, that would help ameliorate the hold that negativity, be it depression, anxiety, or dread, on our perception. The negatively oriented perceptive state seems to act as a block for the entrance of new and true information that could help us build our maps of the world as we wake up and live our daily lives.

So to love what could be as Laura had suggested, could be interpreted as to be ready and vigilant to the input of new information/truth about the world as it comes in. To love is to know. And a perception clouded by negativity is closed off to new knowledge, and to the potential informational content coming at us from the future.

Edit: Thanks for starting the thread, Joe, and for all the great input a- so much food for thought about how to struggle with this "nameless dread" that seems to work against our efforts to be better and do better.
 

beetlemaniac

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
To add to the above:

There's just an overflowing of compassion that's happening in this group during these trying times. I can't express again how grateful I am to be part of this movement towards a new future. The mechanics of it is so beyond my ability to comprehend it. Though individual efforts towards staying vigilant and aware in our own immediate enviroments are so important, when we join together in the mutual sharing of our experiences, our struggles, or just our thoughts and feelings, we stand to gain so much, and what's more important is that we develop our capacity to give, to care and to empathize, when it can be sometimes so difficult to find the opportunity to do so in our hectic/boring/mindless/chaotic daily lives.
 

Stoneboss

Jedi Master
Yes. If you want to put it another way, you could say that the monster is the "criminal mind" (see forum thread about the two books associated with it) and that one of the hardest things in life is to become conscious of those horrible patterns inside us and then actively work against those impulses. Most people never come to that point ever. It is no wonder why people who get a glimpse of this "terror of the situation" end up depressed more often than not. It is quite a thing to realize how much of a monster we can be at every given moment. It is actually a very scary and nightmarish realization. Having said that, I think it is also fairly easy to beat oneself over the head too much and thereby making the situation worse rather than better. Especially in severe cases like this, it is always good to try to be compassionate and caring with oneself, as if one is counselling a good friend. Also, this aspect is much harder done than said.
I think that is really good advice. Being objective but not being too hard on one self.
 
Yeah, it's pretty weird how when we're depressed, our depressed perception encompasses everything (past, present and future) and we think that the way we see things in that state is the way they always were and ALWAYS will be. This is where critical thinking comes in, where we constate to ourselves that this is NOT true, and remind ourselves that, just a few days ago, we saw things totally differently, which raises the question of what is true or real and what is not. The answer to that question seems ultimately to center on choice.

Things change inside ourselves and in the world, and how we view them and respond to them - and therefore what they 'are' - ALWAYS depends on how we choose to view and respond to them. This is a genuine power that many people willfully give up, to their own detriment. Of course, having a philosophical or 'cosmic' perspective (such as that provided by the Cs or mainstream religion) into which we can place events in our lives and the world, - i.e. give these experiences and events context - is extremely helpful in this process, crucial perhaps.
Joe these words are very insightful.We fully appreciate the effort to assist us in increasing our personal growth. It will take a lot of patience to master the incoming negative thought on a daily basis. I think when we slow down and have a serious meeting with ourselves,we can see where positive and negative situation result in proper balance in our lives.
The key is to practice these different methods daily in order to cope with the pressures of life.
There is a very good article on SOTT about Stress management written by Barry Brownstien. It explain why stress is one of the best predictors of high life satiafaction. (Not sure how to link article maybe someone can link it to this thread)
 

beetlemaniac

The Living Force
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