Monday, September 19, 2011

Nothing is Easier Than Fooling Ourselves

Fooling ourselves comes naturally. One glaring example is our conviction that others are to blame for our unhappiness. We say to ourselves, for instance, that “Their behavior (or attitude) is causing me to feel this way (offended, angry, depressed, etc.).”

Sometimes, instead of blaming others for our problems and unhappiness, we blame conditions or circumstances in our life. We might say to ourselves, “Work is too hard, and I don’t get paid enough.” Or we think, “I would be happy if only I was better looking and had a great body and personality.”

Yet we are the ones who are making inner choices that produce our suffering. We have to understand the bittersweet appeal of negative emotions. Without realizing what we’re doing, we actually are making choices to feel deprived, refused, helpless, criticized, rejected, betrayed, or abandoned. Unconsciously, we’re tempted to indulge in such negative emotions that are unresolved from our past.

For instance, if you’re convinced you’re unhappy because you’re not attractive enough, you can be rejecting yourself. Your problem is not with your so-called lack of physical attractiveness, but with your determination to experience yourself through the feeling of rejection. Your inner choice to suffer in this way is caused by an emotional attachment to rejection, as well as to self-rejection. An emotional attachment can be defined as an inner determination to experience a certain unresolved negative emotion. Vast numbers of people have attachments to various negative emotions. It is a social problem that goes largely untreated because it is not well understood.

Related to this, you can also be determined to experience yourself through feelings of criticism and disappointment. Your parents might have regarded you in this negative way (or you believed or felt that they regarded you this way), and now it is how, at least in part, you regard yourself or experience yourself on an emotional level deep in your psyche. We are often completely unaware of these emotional attachments.

A person who easily feels criticized by others and reacts angrily to them is very likely to have an emotional attachment to criticism. This person is likely to be his or her own worst critic. It is ironic that we get angry at someone who has been critical of us when we’re the first in line to be critical of ourselves (through our inner critic). We get angry at the other person to cover up our own resonance with the feeling of being criticized. Through our anger, we blame the other person for our bad feelings, all the while failing to recognize our affinity for (or attachment to) criticism and self-criticism.

All such suffering can become a distant memory when we see more clearly how our psyche works