When you feel upset it is critical to know that you cannot control this emotional upset once it has occurred. You can only respond to it. It is how you respond to an upset that makes the difference between going further off your due north course or back on your due north course. When we do not use an upset to alert us to awaken or to become fully aware, we tend to immediately unconsciously react to the situation at hand. For example, we slam doors or smoke a cigarette or yell at people or take an action that we feel gives us power over someone else. This reaction is a resistance to what is happening and so; it only serves to make matters worse. So, I am going to give you a formula to follow to create resolution once upset has occurred.
1. Re arrange the order of the conjunct words that make up the word upset and you arrive at an interesting truth. An upset is in fact a set up. It is a set up on behalf of the universe at large to make you completely aware of something you are currently unaware of. You are being set up to awaken. You are being set up to integrate what is un-integrated or heal what is unhealed within you. Because it is a set up, acknowledge that this is not the universe working against you; this is the universe offering you an opportunity. Because the universe is alerting you to an opportunity to awaken, you can treat an upset like an alarm clock going off, a red flag popping up or my personal favorite… a meditation bell. Let the discomfort of the upset snap you awake and bring all of your focus to the present moment so that all of your conscious attention can be placed on the situation at hand. Approach the upset with an attitude of “I am being called to become aware of something in this moment.” You must address each upset with the awareness that the upset is valid. It isn’t a matter of whether it is right or wrong to feel that way. So let yourself feel your feelings completely without suppressing them or trying to force them to go away.
2. When you are upset, the nervous system kicks into high gear to remove you from what it perceives as a threat. You can calm down the nervous system by doing the following things: Breathing deep into your diaphragm and belly, inhale for a count of four… hold the breath in for a count of two… exhale gently, counting out for eight… and finish by holding the breath out for a count of two. Keep your breathing even and smooth. Make sure the exhale is longer than the inhale. Then, fill your mouth with warm water and while seated, bend your head forward into a basin of cold water, submerging your forehead, eyes, and at least two-thirds of your cheeks for as long as is comfortable. Breathe in and out your nose in between dunkings. Repeat this process for a few minutes. Then, begin to sway or rock your body back and forth for a few minutes. Rocking on your hands and knees or while sitting with your arms hugging your knees tight to your chest seems to work best. After this, seek out deep touch or pressure anywhere you can find it. This could take the form of firm holding; firm stroking, cuddling, hugging, or squeezing. Perhaps wrap yourself tightly in a blanket, even covering your head so that you feel a sense of containment. And when you feel ready, move on to the next steps, which involve facing the upset.
Before we move on however, I want to mention that the human nervous system is especially soothed by singing. It stimulates one of the primary nerves involved in the fight or flight reaction. So if you feel inspired, sing (even in you have to sing along to a song or someone else’s voice to do it). Also, you may wish to create a playlist of music that you find soothing or calming and put it on while you do take all of these steps to enhance the effectiveness of all of them. 3. Look at the recipe of an upset to isolate the actual ingredient that is causing the upset. There are three main ingredients that create the recipe of upset.
a. An intention or desire that is opposed or prevented. b. An expectation that has been unfulfilled c. An unsuccessful communication
All upset is comprised of one or all of these ingredients. And all of these ingredients revolve around the fact that we think something should be a certain way and it isn’t. An example of an intention that is opposed or prevented is “I want intend to get to work by eight o’clock but the traffic jam opposed that desire and prevented me from getting to work on time.” Opposed or prevented intentions and desires cause us to feel emotions like hatred, rage, anger or if you are feeling especially powerless, feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and despair. An example of an expectation that is unfulfilled is “I expect that my husband keeps me emotionally safe, but he told me something negative that someone else said about me and it caused me to feel bad.” Keep in mind that expectations can be highly unconscious. Expectations give rise to feelings of disappointment, sorrow and grief. An example of an unsuccessful communication is “I wanted to explain myself to my best friend but all she did was hang up the phone when I called”. Unsuccessful communication is a two way street. It can be about us communicating to them or them communicating to us. Perhaps we failed to be able to communicate with the other person because of the way we worded something or the fact that they were not open to the communication. Perhaps you withheld some authentic truth from them, or they withheld some authentic truth from you. When we experience unsuccessful communication, we feel abused, stuck, trapped, rejected and violated. When we feel an upset, we need to get completely aware about what intention or desire is being opposed, what expectation is going unfulfilled and/or what needs to be communicated that is not being successfully communicated. And those things are what we need to seriously examine. We need to find a way to communicate directly with ourselves and with the people we are in conflict with about these deep roots of the upset we are having so we are no longer dealing with the surface of things. In other words, if my husband leaves his socks on the floor, my anger is not about the socks being on the floor. My anger could be about the fact that I expect him to respect me instead of take me for granted and when he leaves his socks on the floor so I can pick them up, he is failing to meet my expectation. If you would like to get deeper into the actual root of any of your surface upsets, I suggest you use your upsets to find the core belief that is causing you pain about the situation. I set out an exact process for how to do this in my video on YouTube titled: “ How To Find a Core Belief.”
4. Take a close look at what you are making this upset mean. Humans suffer more than any species in the universe. They suffer more because they add painful meaning to experiences they have. This week, I had a traumatic event occur. I looked out my window to find a deer that had been struck by a car and had sought shelter in my backyard. Her hind leg was broken in five places. While the other members of the intentional community frantically tried to figure out the best option to help this deer, I decided to stay completely present with this animal. I went into its perspective and was surprised. It was experiencing severe levels of pain as it bled out onto the snow. But it was not suffering from any emotional angst in conjunction with that pain. The deer could not be in the past or in the future. It was only concerned with the now. The deer was not making the experience mean anything. And so, it was not emotionally suffering. The deer was not thinking about how this would effect it’s future. It was not worried about dying. It was not making the event mean that the universe is against it or that the world is a dangerous and bad place to be. A human on the other hand immediately assigns painful meaning to painful experiences. And so, any time you experience an upset, I want you to consider that the experience itself is separate from what we make that experience mean and ask yourself “What am I making this mean?” Make your steps towards resolution (such as communication) be about this deeper meaning you are adding to the experience. To understand this concept more in depth, I urge you to watch my video on YouTube titled: Meaning, The Self Destruct Button.”
5. Consider that the way you can know that something should be happening is that it is happening. And so rather than resist the unwanted thing that is happening, approach it with an attitude of allowing or curiosity. An upset is ultimately the result of thinking that something should be that isn’t or shouldn’t be that is. That attachment to how things should be is a rigidity that puts you at war with what is. It puts you at war with the present moment. So, when you are ready, pretend you are a philosopher who must get way outside the paradigm of your current thinking and explore the question, assuming this is supposed to be happening, why should this be happening? You can enhance this practice by trying to find and list all the positive aspects of the negative situation at hand. 6. If the upset cannot be eased by doing any of the previous steps, it means there is a deep emotional wound which is being triggered. The upset is calling you to take the light of your consciousness into the darkness of that unconscious pain in order to integrate it. So, instead of trying to feel better, get better at feeling by dropping into and being unconditionally present with the feeling, let it lead you back to the original trauma that is unresolved and create some resolution. For instructions about how to do this, watch my video on YouTube titled: How To Heal The Emotional Body.
An upset is always a call to awaken. It is always a set up on behalf of the universe to call us to make a change… a change to our thoughts, our communication, our actions and our situation. So use the upset to become aware of the ingredients that are actually causing the upset and make your adjustments based on those things that you find. An upset is not here to thwart your progress; an upset is here to enhance your progress.