How do human beings respond when we get psychologically upset? We start by labelling the feeling as anger, stress, anxiety, depression or something similar. It’s like a fire in the brain.
This can be caused by different events, and though the details may differ, they are broadly similar in all human beings.
We may lose something we were attached to – a favourite pet, a person or a job.
We may not get something we want- we may fail an exam, or not get a job, or fail to achieve a goal at work.
We may be criticised for something we have done, or compare ourselves with others who have done better than us, Or feel our needs are not being met in a relationship, or feel lonely. All these hurt.
There are many other reasons why we get stressed and upset. How do we respond?
We immediately seek solutions in the world around us. We may start by blaming a person or our circumstances for how we are feeling. Feeling like a victim brings a subtle form of pleasure in itself, and also gives us a reason to not accept responsibility for how we are feeling.
If the distress continues we may seek refuge in one of the familiar escapes which make us feel good in the short term.
We may escape through pleasure: go shopping, go on holiday, start a new relationship – anything that distracts us from our pain.
We may take to alcohol or drugs which again offers an escape from our pain, though that causes its own problems.
Or we may try some of the well tested stress reducing techniques out there – Yoga, Mindfulness, Counselling, Tai-Chi, Meditation, or start some medication. All these provide some relief and make us feel better, so we continue.
But they all have one thing in common – they are dealing with the symptoms of the internal disorder but not the root cause. The engine of disorder continues to generate our psychological pain, continues to create new fires which we have to try and put out.
The only long term solution is to understand the engine of disorder. Most of us are not aware that it even exists, or how to explore and understand it. The book Understanding Me, Understanding You, which is part of the non-profit Human Enquiry Project offers a road-map to explore our inner spaces and the origins of our distress. This understanding results in a long term solution to these problems. If the origins of our anxiety are understood then we no longer have to try and not be anxious. If we understand that our hidden images of ourselves cause us to be hurt when criticised, we can let go of them. If we understand that our conditioning is pushing us to react to life in unhelpful patterns of behaviour, we can live with intelligence so it no longer operates from behind the screen of our awareness. If we see that our hidden psychological needs are behind much of our pain and disappointment in a relationship, we may try and understand where they come from.
By just turning our gaze inwards, and understanding ourselves and the way our minds work, the engine of disorder can be switched off, and we can live with a sense of inner peace.
The beauty of this approach is that all it needs is for us to understand ourselves deeply, and that empowers us to take responsibility for and solve our own problems.
Take the first step, and find out for yourself.