It’s a very powerful choice, the option I’m given each day of where I want to direct my energy and attention, and how I might raise my emotional tone. This is my gift, my freedom, the one I have already won. I needn’t earn it or even search for or figure out how to “get’ it. It’s the prize waiting for me, each day and hour, and moment. And there is no limit to its supply.
And if I forget or slip into ignoring or overlooking the option, I can start again, as many times as I like, or need. And the more that I do, the more that practice helps me to reach for this option more quickly – to want to reach for it, even when the pull from inner insistence, demand to be right, tug at me especially hard. It can feel like an act of empowerment to choose this constructive response over allowing those other reactions to run wild like a pack of unruly dogs.
Why does that old pull succeed in snagging me at all? That’s what I need to ask myself.
The answers are typically the usual suspects. Firstly, it will bring some sort of pay-off – some degree of pleasure, certainly, and also, some element of pain can be a pay-off, too, because it’s more fuel for the story I’ll tell myself about it, and the identity I’ll start to spin and weave around that.
Oh, the sweet freedom of stepping into the mid-air spaciousness of not choosing any of those old, misdirected habits, those premature conclusions based only on past experience. The lower end of the emotional scale has one agenda: let’s wallow in what it means to be miserable, and let’s be right. And, perhaps, an even bigger agenda: let’s avoid facing the reality of the matter at all.
Eroding into a negative and displeased emotional tone is usually about either resisting or running away from emotion that arises, rather than actually meeting it and feeling. Like waves that are going to wash up on the beach of my life, feelings will come, and bring with them an energy and a momentum.
When I don’t invest in a lower emotional tone, don’t buttress and reinforce it, shrug it on like a cloak, take it up like a duty or a sentence, there’s an inner vision, a spirit of faith just waiting to reach toward the lift and propelling joy of a higher one. It gives energy rather than taking it. It feels wonderful, like a favorite memory. It’s always a possibility, as long as some story, some made-up figment that’s never been real, isn’t allowed to convince me otherwise.