“Life is a contact sport” Sydney Banks
We feel differently about the same situation at different times. Knowing why this is, is the key to our freedom, yet we don’t see what is in front of us as we are innocently misunderstanding our psychology.
Our society tells us that we experience life via things external to us. We believe, for example, that our children can make us feel angry, that our past can make us feel depressed and that the sunset can make us feel relaxed. It is the message that I got as a child and it is the message that, at times, I am innocently passing on to my children. But it doesn’t stack up if you look at it logically.
I ‘suffered from depression’ for many years and was told that this was caused by something in my past. I spent a lot of time, money and effort trying to find out what that was, so that I could come to terms with it and move on with my life. I tried many different modalities, too many to name them all. With some I would talk about my past and all the ‘bad’ things that happened to me and the result was that I talked myself into a big black hole from which life looked very bleak. At no point did anyone explain my psychology to me or tell me that I was working beautifully. Yet we are, in any given moment, working fine. There is nothing wrong.
Other modalities told me what to do, for example mindfulness meditation where I needed to meditate, to train and quieten my mind and I needed to do this every day. I found that sometimes it worked for a bit but I was very much judging my experiences and it was an effort. The message I got was that I needed to DO something to feel better. With this way of understanding how we experience life, we don’t have to DO anything. It is a knowing that comes from within that lets us know that we are OK. This comes to us via insight.
I would like to point out that I see nothing at all wrong with any modality per se but this is my experience of them. If they work for you then absolutely wonderful. We are all on our own pathway through life and it is not my job to tell you that your pathway is wrong, but I feel passionate about letting people know how they are experience it at all.
Then I found the Three Principles Paradigm which explained how I work psychologically, how I am able to experience life. I went from searching for something outside of myself, something to try to fix or change me, to seeing the perfection of life. I could see ‘my depression’ for what it was. I didn’t need to change my experience of life in any way, I didn’t need to DO anything. This sounds like a big leap but it was effortless in the extreme and all it required of me was a curiousity about where I thought my experience was coming from.
So going back to our examples:
Our children can make us angry. If we look at this logically then we see very clearly that this cannot be true. I feel very differently about my children’s behaviour on different days, or in different moments. Also I can feel angry with my child and my husband does not so it cannot be coming from the child. It is my thinking about the child.
Our past can make us feel depressed. Well, how is it that our past can make us feel? we aren’t living the same thing over and over again, we are thinking about it and that comes with a feeling. In my case I didn’t ever get to why I was depressed but understanding that a depressed thought comes to me with a depressed feeling is enough. It frees me from wondering what it is all about, it frees me from trying to find out why. I simply know that it is a thought. I don’t need to change the thought, thoughts change on their own very quickly.
The sunset can make me feel relaxed. Not everyone feels relaxed when they look at a sunset, yes a lot of people do, but not everyone. As soon as there is an exception, we know that it cannot be true. For example a commuter coming home on the train may see a sunset and be so stressed about the day she has had that she doesn’t feel relaxed. She is thinking about her work, not about the sunset.
And back to my original question. How should I feel?
We have this idea that life should be a certain way. That some feelings are bad and we don’t want them and other feelings are good and we do want them. When we split our feelings into good and bad we spend a lot of effort trying to keep away from the ones we don’t want. But with this understanding more and more people are seeing that in any given moment I should feel exactly as I am. Sometimes I have feelings of sadness or depression or anxiety and I know where it is coming from. I don’t need to do anything with it, the feelings don’t define me in any way, they are simply telling me what I am thinking right now.
Syd Banks said ‘Life is a contact sport’. To my mind he was saying that we experience it all – the good, the bad, and the ugly. That we shouldn’t try to shield ourselves from feelings but see where they are coming from, and not expect it to be a smooth ride. We do and will hit bumps in the road and will experience all the emotions.
This was such a relief to me and it is a relief to clients who see it for themselves. I invite you to get curious about where your experience of life is coming from. Do you think it is coming from your past, present circumstances, or people around you? Or do you think it is coming from thought in the moment.
If this has sparked something in you and you would like a free half an hour chat with me do get in contact with me, I would love to talk to you.
I offer one-to-ones and intensives online and In person.
I also co-run Exeter Three Principles Meetup every month in Nancy Potter house, Topsham Devon.
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