You Are Not Your Thoughts, Emotions Or Body
Here’s an old, but useful exercise:
Pay attention to your thoughts. What are you thinking right now?
Here’s another one:
What are you feeling right now? What is your primary emotion?
Ok, excellent. Bear with me.
If you lost your little finger in an accident, would you still be you? Or, put another way, since every cell in your body replaces itself every 7-10 years, or sooner, at any point do you stop being you?
See, it breaks down like this. If you can be aware of your thoughts, then you are not your thoughts. We have thoughts, but we are not our thoughts.
With emotions, it’s even more obvious. Unfortunately in English we say things like “I am angry.” In French or German things are more instructive. They say “I have anger.” We have emotions, but we are not our emotions.
We are obviously not our physical body either. We have a body, but there’s something more going on.
If you’ve read a little bit, I’m sure none of this is a surprise. Eckhart Tolle talks about these realisations as part of his enlightenment experience. Oh, & if you get the chance to see him live, I thoroughly recommend it, he’s a superbly entertaining speaker.
Of course, this is the point where I could totally understand you saying “Well, ok, so what?” & fair enough too.
This is one of those understandings that it’s easy to have intellectually, but might take years before it’s really cemented into your being. Really knowing something in your heart can be funny like that.
If we’re not our thoughts, emotions or bodies, then what are we? Well, that’s another good question. I don’t have any easy answers to that, except to say that we’re what’s left when thoughts & emotions are taken away. We’re the space in which they form.
I’m not generally a huge fan of philosophical posturing. You can sit around & talk nonsense for years, but how does it help unless you actually apply it, or do something, or change something?
So, here’s something useful you can do with this information.
If you’re not your thoughts, or your emotions, then when you sense these things arising, you can let them go, just as easily as they arose.
If you start thinking something that takes you out of your place of joy (or just generally makes you feel bad), then realise they’re just thoughts, spontaneously arising. You don’t have to keep thinking them. You don’t have to stay focussed on that subject. Just let it go. Drop it, or if that doesn’t work, distract yourself with something you enjoy more. Why not? I mean, who’s the boss – you, or your thoughts?
Same thing with emotions. Feel a negative emotion, you don’t have to keep feeling that. You’ll only keep feeling it for as long as you choose to. I realise this is a little inflammatory, we’re more or less raised to believe that emotions are these powerful things that we either feel intensely, or completely deny (There’s that “I am angry” or “I am not angry” thing again).
Bottom line though, who’s the boss of you? Are your emotions the boss of you? Well, no, they’re not. You can see this when you see two people experience the same event, and react completely differently. Or by watching how much people vary in terms of calming down after an upsetting event.
Emotions do tend to be a little more overwhelming at times. There are many ways to gain control back though. EFT is a good one – that’ll allow you to drop any negative emotional reaction altogether. Meditation, Yoga & exercise are helpful too. Anything that helps you maintain your centre, your sense of self – rather than being swept away with events around you.
Once you realise that thoughts & emotions are not you, just things happening to you, you’re taking a huge, positive step towards freedom. The more you let go of them as they occur, the less power they have over you, & the more they start to disappear. The more they disappear, the calmer your life becomes, & the more you become, well, you. That sparkling ball of light, love & energy right at the core of your being. The part of you that people fall in love with. The part of you that your friends (the good ones, not the bitchy ones) adore so much.
Well, that’s a pretty tall order, so where to start? Just start by paying a little attention. Notice when thoughts or emotions are running away from you. Give yourself a chance to step back a little, let them go. Even just doing that tiny little thing will start to pay dividends immediately. After all, what do you have to lose? The real You, not the thinking/emoting/farting you?