How To Find Balance Between Listening to Yourself and Not Being Led By Your Emotions
I have a rule that I use all the time: don’t make decisions when emotions are high. This includes not making decisions when I am really angry or sad, and not making decisions when I am really happy as well. There are a few reasons for this, but the main one is that a healthy marriage between emotions and being grounded are very important for decision-making. After all, any kind of action or inaction always gives birth to a certain set of results.
Before, I would always make major life changing decisions on a whim; I even moved halfway around the world based on an emotional high I was feeling at the time. It turned out to be a great decision, but that wasn’t always the case in my life.
There is a balance that must be kept when we begin any kind of self development, and this balance eluded me in the beginning. When I first started this line of work I would often mistake ‘loving myself’ for being led by my emotions. Or I would mistake my intuition for my ego mind. For example, there would be days that I wouldn’t feel like working, and so in the idea of loving myself I would not work. While there may be many different scenarios for this example, for me I found that it was arising from an emotional preference instead of intuition. In other words, I was just being lazy and allowing myself to be distracted… all the while telling myself that this is what self love is all about.
There is a difference between loving myself and listening to my needs, and allowing the mind to come in and make excuses for not committing or doing something. There is a difference between making an agreement with another person and then cancelling it last minute based on the feeling, “I don’t feel like doing it.” This is not necessarily self-love; it is more like procrastination or laziness which arises from the mind. If the feeling is really arising from intuition, it would have an expanding feeling, and wouldn’t lead to feeling guilty afterwards (which I felt often).
While it isn’t wrong or bad, making the distinction is important. I was listening to Master Dhyan Vimal at one of his talks in Kota Damansara, and he lovingly said to all the disciples, “Do you know why we plan retreats in Langkawi and Penang? Because if I had one here at my center, your monkey-minds will come in and make excuses not to come. You minds would find other more important things to do instead.”
When I heard this I realized that I was mistaking loving myself for my ‘monkey mind’ as Master called it. The mind likes to come in sometimes and not fully commit to tasks and agreements. This is why a lot of people end up ‘sitting on the fence’ when it comes to decision making; it takes commitment and many ‘monkey minds’ come in and like to distract us with something else. And the same is true when we mistake loving and listening to our needs, versus our minds coming in and distracting us from completing something or doing something.
It is the nature of the mind to distract. We have millions of thoughts each day and as Byron Katie puts it, thoughts are like clouds on a blue sky canvas. They are meant to come, change form and go without us holding onto them. But many of us are not taught to let go of these thoughts, so they try to pass and we grab onto them and make them mean something about us. We tell ourselves that it is our intuition, or that we have to ‘become more positive’ because this is a ‘negative’ thought, and the thought was just meant to pass without us grabbing and holding onto it. And this is often something that can hinder us on our way to truly living Life deeply; because we are in our heads instead of grounded in our hearts.
So how can we find a balance between being grounded and listening to ourselves? How can we not mistake loving ourselves for our mind coming in and distracting us?
One way would be mindfulness meditation. Tuck Loon gives a course at the Clove&Clive center called Mindfulness: A Starting Point, and it is a great introduction to practicing mindfulness on a daily basis. It creates a space so that we are no longer believing everything that we think, even those thoughts masquerading as self love or intuition. As we create this space we free ourselves from our mind, and begin releasing our attachment to thoughts that are meant to pass as clouds against a blue sky canvas.
The more I have practiced this, the more I have also made the distinction between what is really my intuition and what are my emotions about certain topics. Our intuition is something that can really support people in making more beneficial decisions for themselves, but often many people mistake their intuition for emotions they have about certain things. But the more we practice awareness and mindfulness, the more we begin gaining distinctions between our personal preferences and our intuition.
One distinction I have is that intuition is subtle~ it is not a loud or dominating emotion (except in rare situations), and to listen to it we have to be open and blank. Whereas emotions are always coming and going, shifting as thoughts do. Intuition also often comes in the form of inspiration, and if intuition is warning us of danger, or of an experience that might not be beneficial for us, it is long a dull throb… a subtle feeling of unease. Emotions, on the other hand, are shifting constantly throughout the day and influential factors include diet, thoughts and ideas that we subscribe to, and memories that seem to pop up randomly. Intuition is a steady drum among the movement of the mind and the emotions~ it is steady and constant, and can be readily accessed when we stop holding onto the mind’s thoughts and the emotions that arise from these thoughts.
Because Life is Effortless,