I feel compelled to write this post as a response to some of the messages I’m getting and seeing at the moment. Normally I write about my own emotions and how I am dealing with them, I guess in some ways this post isn’t so different, but the reason for writing it is not to help myself, it’s to help others that seem to be struggling.
Anger seems to be a big issue with many people in my situation. Angry at the situation itself, angry at the turn of events that unfolded when their loved one died and indeed angry at their late partner for leaving them so early in life.
I can honestly say I feel none of this anger. I feel completely calm and relaxed in this respect, not because of my own ability to deal with anything better then anybody else but because I believe I have an understanding of how our mind works. What I would like to do in this blog post is share how I look at the situation, the turn of events and the fact that Claire left me so early in her life.
A difference between what we think happens and what really happens.
The easiest way to describe this is to put it into a diagram.
What we often think happens when we get angry (a behaviour) when something happens (external event) is that the external event MAKES us angry. Something happens, our blood begins to boil, our faces go red and we can feel the anger welling up inside. We seem to create a direct link between that external event and our own behaviour. The two seem inextricably linked… “That happened which makes me angry” – “they died and left me and that makes me angry” are a common thoughts.
But this is not what really happens, this is taking the external event and behaviour and not accepting that we’ve done anything with that external event in our head. It’s as though the event has led to a behaviour and we haven’t been part of that process, but we have haven’t we? We are completely part of it because we absorb that external event via our senses, we take everything we see, hear and feel about that external event, run it around inside our head which then leaves us with a behaviour.
So this is what really is happening.
What actually happens is that an external event enters our thought process via our senses. We then generalise things (“last time someone died then I felt this way”) we delete things we can’t make sense of, we have our own innate ways of doing things (“…this is just the way I handle life”), we have our own belief systems (you may believe that you deserve more, or that something is right or wrong… But who says?). You may have decided years ago that life wasn’t fair, this could be a limiting decision which has led to a limiting beliefs that your life is going to all go wrong, and when something negative happens it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy (“yeh, I knew something shit would happen”).
These are all filters inside your head, these filters completely change the reality of the external event. These filters give you an internal representation of that event in your head.
That internal representation changes your state, your blood boils, your heart races and you can feel the anger welling.
That state changes your physiology, your face becomes red, your fists clench and your stomach churns.
The physiology then affects your behaviour… You become angry.
So what is the answer?
This process happens in the blink of an eye but it’s like a steam train heading down the wrong track. Once that steam train gets momentum and heads down the wrong track there’s no stopping it, there’s nothing you can do, there is just an inevitability about the situation.
So the trick is to put in a set of points early on in the process so that that steam train can choose an alternate heading. If we divert the train early enough in the process it won’t regain the momentum and won’t end up in the destination called anger.
I find myself in an awful situation, the external event that happened to me is that I lost my beautiful Claire.
I know that there are things that I would generalise about that situation, I will delete things that I can’t make sense of, I have beliefs about the way my life should have turned out and I have a wonderful memories together. All of these act as filters in my mind and distort that original event. I know that I’m doing this. I know that I have created my own internal representation of that horrible external event.
Because I know that I have done this I can choose to put in a set of points and divert the steam train.
My reality of losing Claire is entirely constructed in my head and that is the only place that reality exists. And when you realise that, when you realise that your thoughts are just that… They are only thoughts. Your thoughts are not reality, reality happens outside of you and you make sense of it with thoughts.
Now you know this, now you know that the way you feel is because of your thoughts… Have that thought, recognise it as a thought, and let it go…