You are the creator of your emotional weather even when clouds obscure the view the sun is always shining through.
Flying from California east, from a window seat, one can check out the landscape and sky below. You can see the tops of the Rocky Mountains, towering skyscrapers shrunk by perspective, and seas of fluffy white clouds below. But during a storm as soon as your plane dips below the bank of grey clouds, one can no longer see the beautiful blue skies and bright sunshine that was evident just seconds before. It is a strange experience to see that even when it’s grey and stormy at ground level, the sun is always shining somewhere!
This is such a perfect metaphor for our lives. When we’re in the thick of things, at ground level, and circumstances roll in, dark clouds of emotion start piling up, and angry winds begin battering at our peaceful landscape. It can be difficult to remove ourselves from the situation and see that all of this isn’t happening to us, its just happening. And even more, that even as it happens, that constant source of light and peace is always there shining, just hidden by the clouds. Social media is full of many well-intentioned posts and memes about how to “Change your thinking to change your life”. While the intention here is appreciated it, in reality, falls short. You can no more change your thinking than you can change the weather of any given day, no matter how much you may want to!
You know this if you remember the last time you had an “ear worm”, a song stuck in your head on repeat that you don’t want to keep playing. Ever walked through Disney World? Try not humming “It’s a small world after all” there. The more you try to stop hearing, humming or worse, singing along to it, the longer it seems to continue! That’s because actively trying to change a thought is paradoxically doing the opposite—it’s putting a spotlight on the thought you want to stop. But when you relax and your attention shifts to something else other than the song, you don’t even realize when the song is no longer plaguing you!
So how does this work in real life? You can’t just to ignore everything and it will disappear, life isn’t quite that tidy. What you can do is take a peek above the clouds and see that when things happen in your life, good or bad, the emotions you have about them always follow the thoughts you are having.
Emotion always follows thought.
- Then the emotions you have skew the thoughts that follow
- One cloud becomes two, and two becomes four…
- And the more firmly you believe you are thinking about it,
- The more passionately you feel those emotions,
- And pretty soon you’ve got a full-fledged storm of emotion obscuring all corners of your horizon.
At Gulf Breeze Recovery Andrew adopted a powerful approch to experiencing life from the inside-out:
“When you’re not stuck in this perception that life sucks, when you have a perception of the world that it is not what you thought it was and can actually accept that, it changes everything…“
See Andrew’s testimonial interview and learn more about Gulf Breeze Recovery.
Notice the part your thinking plays in your day and how well (or poorly) it goes, and you’ll get a life-changing peek to the real expanse of sky and sunshine that is always there.
Now, you can find all the Facebook memes you want and recite over and over the steps of how to change your thinking about the storm you are in (Good luck with that one!) but make sure you take an umbrella. You can also look at the storm and wail in misery at how your life always has bad weather, put on pajamas and hide under the covers, but that certainly doesn’t make the weather pass by any quicker or make it any easier to take.
The entirely different, so-simple-it’s-silly option is to realize the truth that you are the creator of your emotional weather, no matter what is happening in your life. Whaaaaaat? Yes, you are seeding your own storm clouds with your thoughts, and while you can’t change the automatic thoughts you have about things, what you can do is understand that not all of your thinking is based on fact. Almost none of it is because everything you experience “out there” has to go through your own personal filters for you to experience them internally. That means that when you see a parrot, your best friend, or a tarantula, you don’t see just a 3D object as it appears to everyone else, you see it with your optical receptors. You then identify it with your stored memories about the shapes you’ve encountered in life, match it up with the emotional file you have on everything you’ve experienced, and THEN you experience thoughts about the thing in front of you.
All of this happens so quickly it’s no wonder we miss it, but science has already proven it to be true. Now expand that one object to real-time world situations, with sights and sounds and smells bombarding us from every angle, with our moods, emotions and physical health tacking on yet more filters from the inside. It is easy to see how everything you experience is NOT simply the knowledge of reality, but your experience of your reality.
Once you’ve grasped that, and know it to be true, suddenly no amount of clouds look real, no matter how threatening. It’s simply the clouds in front of what is real, that you are always under your own sunshine of peace and clarity. It doesn’t make those clouds vanish; we all have bad moods, irritation, “sticky” things with which we deal. It instead illuminates that you made those clouds, empowers you to no longer feel a victim to your own clouds, and shows you the cracks in between. At some point, it shows you that you aren’t limited to being beneath those clouds even as they happen—that you can be above and below and east and west of any storm that erupts.
If all that still sounds like “changing your thinking”, take a peek at this clip from the movie Inception, where Leo DiCaprio explains to Ellen Page that when she realizes she’s in a dream, the dream falls apart, and she wakes up to “reality.” She doesn’t have to work to change it, just the realization that it is a dream does all the work.
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