From guest blogger, Valerie Saurer. I love it when someone says it better than I!
Does this sound familiar? You’re going along being all spiritual, mood is light, and you’re able to handle whatever comes along without breaking your stride. You’re proud of the progress you’ve made, and you feel like your ride on that emotional roller coaster you used to be trapped on is finally behind you. Then, someone says something that totally sets you off: your blood starts boiling and you fly into a rage. Or, if you swing the other way and your anger tends to get directed inward, you tumble down into a deep depression. What just happened?
I have a friend who used to be a heavy drinker. Generally, he tends to be an easy-going and generous guy, but when he drank he turned into someone he called Him. Him was just down-right mean and abusive. You could always tell when Him woke up and was ready to wreak havoc: He would push his glasses down to the end of his nose and peer over them in a warning glare, then he’d let you have it. Even now that he’s been sober for a long time, every now and then Him will rear his ugly little head from time to time.
We all have a Him inside of us. Only in my case, it’s a Her. A few years back I picked up a copy of Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now, in which Tolle explains what is going on here. Tolle calls this emotionally-charged alter-ego The Pain Body. The Pain Body is made up of all of the unresolved emotional issues from our past. In her book Molecules of Emotion, scientist Candace Pert explains that any time we do not fully process emotions, they actually become a part of our physical biology and embed themselves in our cells until a future episode awakens them. Over time, these molecules of emotion take on a life of their own and become our Pain Body.
We basically have two intelligences working inside us. First, there is our thinking, which is basically the stories we tell ourselves inside our head. Thinking can be a very useful tool, but most of us confuse what we think with who we are. Second, we have emotion, which is our body’s intelligence. Abraham-Hicks calls our emotions our Guidance System: emotions tell us when something is good or bad, when we are moving toward or away from that which our real self knows to be true and good. Your thinking has the power to control your emotion. This is a wonderful thing to know if you are able to control your thinking. If, however, you believe that the voice in your head is really you, you will tend to forget that you shouldn’t believe everything that you think. You’ll also notice that when you tell yourself certain stories in your head you tend to get REALLY upset. Then your Him surfaces and all bets are off.
Emotions are very useful when they are a reaction to a real event; unfortunately, they react just as strongly to a perceived event, which is why if you have certain conversations or think along certain lines you can activate your Pain Body. The Pain Body is an energetic entity located within, but separated from our total energetic field. We all have one. Usually it lies dormant until something happens to set it off. When that happens we are no longer the ones steering the ship: the Pain Body has taken control and the best that we can learn to do is manage it until it subsides again. If we are emotionally mature or very fortunate, our Pain Body lies dormant most of the time. Some people, however, are almost entirely controlled by their Pain Body. You know them when you see them: they thrive on drama and are always reactive and easy to offend.
So how do we learn to control this evil twin that lives inside us? How can we learn not to become possessed by Him, or to send Him packing when he rears his pointy little head? The Pain Body thrives on pain. It can be activated by pain, offense, insult, worry, fear … and once it awakens, its survival instinct will take over and it will want FOOD, which it will expect your thinking to provide. When the Pain Body awakens you will notice that your thinking changes along with it. You begin telling yourself stories in your head that serve to perpetuate the anger, fear, or worry … whatever is the dominant emotion of your Pain Body. You’ll call your friends and tell THEM the story so that you can hear it all over again. The more you tell it, the more angry, fearful, or worried you become. If you tend to be depressed instead of angry, you will crawl into your dark place and wallow.
The only way to prevent the Pain Body from taking over, or to send it back to sleep in its coffin, is not to feed it. We must become aware enough of what is happening that we can stop the negative thinking that is feeding our Pain Body. Remember the two intelligences? Of the two, the only one we can control is our thinking. Emotion just happens. When we are sad, we are really sad. When we are angry, there is no doubt that the anger is real. Even though we may describe ourselves as emotionally immature and we think that our emotions are the problem, they’re really not. It’s always our thinking that’s the problem.
Next time you notice that your Pain Body has taken over and you find yourself overwhelmed with negative emotion, try this technique: First, feel the pain. Really feel it. Remember that your Pain Body grew out of your unwillingness to fully process the emotion the first time around. So in order to heal your Pain Body you must, sooner or later, feel the emotional pain. But here’s the difference: This time you will practice feeling the full force of the pain without the accompanying story you tell yourself in your head. Instead, you will think something like: “Oh, there’s anger here. I feel really angry. This is what it feels like to be angry.” Allow yourself to fully feel the anger. Notice what is happening to your body when you are angry. Where in your body do you feel the anger? Do you clench your teeth? Your fists? Does your stomach get tied up in knots? What exactly is happening to you?
If you find yourself telling the story of your anger, STOP. Strive to become an observer, only. By watching the anger instead of becoming identified with it, you cease to feed the Pain Body and begin to actually heal the pain. Remember, some of us have very powerful Pain Bodies, so you will have to allow it space to run its full course. Without food, though, it will fall dormant again sooner rather than later. At first this might be hard: When the Pain Body has awakened, it is running the show and it will not want to be killed off. It will take control of your thinking, speaking, doing. You must regain control, and you can do that by dis-identifying with your thoughts. When the Pain Body takes over, become aware that it is definitely Him and NOT you who is throwing this temper tantrum. Stand aside and observe. If you do this every time, your Pain Body will eventually become weaker and will awaken less frequently and with less force.
Does this mean that you will never get angry again? Of course not. There are real reasons to become angry, and our emotions are given to us to protect us and to teach us what is right and what is wrong for us. But you will become angry because of something that is happening in the present moment, not re-living past anger; and you will feel and express your present anger so completely in the present moment that it will not be able to turn itself into a molecule of emotion that adds to your Pain Body.
Eventually, you will almost forget that you ever had a Him.