While being Human is never easy, there are three functions we need to stay aware of to make our lives more effective and thereby happy. While life will always be hard work, keeping each function in mind goes a long way to empowering effectiveness. It is not as simple as it seems.
THOUGHTS: An effective life requires effective use of thoughts. Wherever thoughts come from, and this is not the place to debate biology and psychology, it is most useful to be aware as possible that you are both in control of your thoughts and not in control of them. No matter how sophisticated, or even enlightened you become, you will always have a steady stream of negative, what are really garbage thoughts, that need to be treated as such, and positive thoughts you want to hold onto, treasure and use.
FEELINGS: In general while feelings often seem, or can be a reaction to the external world, they ordinarily and most frequently follow thoughts. Effective use of feelings as our central source of available energy strengthens self-esteem, self-confidence and effective living. All feelings are incredible sources of energy, even paradoxically that, the more negative and painful they are the more energy they have locked up in them for use. But feelings come and and go, and you must feel them all, listen to what they are telling you, and then positive or negative, let them do their work and pass in order to access their energy.
BEHAVIOR: Lastly, whether our lives are effective or not depends ultimately on our behavioral choices. Making effective behavioral choices however highly depends on our awareness and choice of thoughts and how we cope and adapt to the resultant feelings or feelings precipitated by external events. In all cases it deeply depends on the ultimate security we feel within ourself which comes from situations not fully in our control like physiology, external events, and most importantly the nature of our early experiences; but most important to know is that we can change the nature of our ongoing experiences.
This may all sound obvious or simple, but it is not. As you try to balance your life, it is important to remain aware that it is the looping between any two functions that causes most distress.This looping will put up massive resistance to adding awareness and use of a third function. This may be part of the etymology of the expression, “he’s loopy.” It may also be seen in the idea two’s company three’s a crowd; or expressed in the ‘oedipal conflict’, the pressure in a child competing with or trying to get between parents; or a parent colluding with a child consciously or unconsciously making a spouse the third; or a child out of control when they are metaphorically allowed to stand on the shoulders of one parent and thereby feel bigger than the other parent.
For instance, say you feel stuck and are not getting on with doing (behaving) what you need to do to live effectively like earning extra money. Your thoughts and feelings will loop and seem like a jungle you have to push through to get on with effective behavior. This may be called laziness by you or others, or take the forms of obsession, compulsion, or hoarding.
Or, if you are looping between thoughts and behavior cut off from your feelings except craving, the temptation to keep ‘doing’, including ‘doing nothing’, to become a ‘human doing’ instead of a ‘human being’, can seem like an overwhelming challenge to control. You think up your latest plan while rushing from ‘doing’ part of one thing, to ‘doing’ part of another. This is where addiction hides.
Or, lastly, if you are looping between feelings and behavior, the rush of feelings driving you to act ineffectively, or even insanely, can make it feel like you don’t even have a mind to think with. In the same way your out of control behavior scares you silly, floods your mind with feelings and completes the fixed loop. That is why this loop is often central to the saying: ‘he’s lost his mind.’
THE THREE FUNCTIONS IN RELATIONSHIPS: ‘ME’ and ‘NOT ME’.
In working to become highly aware of your own three functions you must assess how much of your functions are the ‘me’ that you want, and how much are really past patterns with parent(s), or parental patterns, or other authority figures you are automatically carrying on. This complexity of thoughts, feelings, and behavior make it difficult to know just what is ‘me’ and ‘not me’.
EXAMPLE of ‘NOT ME’:
Your parent(s) dies or abandons you, therefore everyone is a jerk and will abandon you, you can never trust anyone, you’re scared, you’ll abandon your friends before you get hurt, even if your friend is by and large a thoughtful, loving person you feel you must be missing something, you’re getting out of there, you’re being smothered, you’re losing yourself, you don’t want to be the bad one so you set the scene so you’re abandoned like you know was going to happen anyway, no one really loves you, you’re just an add on, they’re big and powerful, you’re tiny and weak, they’re knowledgable, you’re stupid, and yet you must search for them endlessly and you find yourself automatically attracted to older or younger others, and so on.
The point here is to see how these thoughts, feelings and behavior that you mistakenly think of as ‘me’, are actually loops based on repeating and trying to complete transactions from your past. As long as you don’t work everyday to at least try and see where your functions are coming from, you will mistakenly think and feel that you have no chance of owning ‘me’, creating necessary internal security yourself and thereby making your own effective functional choices in relationships, and EQUALLY important, but often neglected, in your interests.
EXAMPLE OF ‘ME’:
Everyday things and people happen that hurt you and help you. Everyday you help or hurt yourself through what you do or don’t do. You watch the thoughts that continuously pass through your mind of criticism, judgment of self or other, of non-forgiveness, of craving, of greed, of superiority, of inferiority, of past traumas and loss, of situations that seem out of control, of every little thing that gets in your way and frustrates you, of violence, of sadness, of anger: and you LET THESE THOUGHTS GO. You watch carefully, observing your own mind, and you choose the thoughts that support and validate you. You put them in your personal bank account so you can see that they are there. They grow and create necessary internal security by earning interest everyday.
Feelings rush in and out of your body and mind and one minute you are in deep despair, the next minute you are panicking, and then for long periods you may feel at peace. You remind yourself repeatedly that whether its source is internal in your thoughts, or external in that someone didn’t hold the elevator door for you, feelings come and go. It is okay to feel whatever you are feeling. THEY WILL PASS.
You remind yourself in everything you do that I AM ME. It is my decision what I do regardless of what I, or others, think or feel; but as ‘ME’, I WILL BEHAVE EFFECTIVELY IN MY OWN, AND AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE OTHERS’, BEST INTEREST. And WHEN I, OR OTHERS, MAKE MISTAKES, AS I AND THEY WILL, I WILL FORGIVE AND START AGAIN. MISTAKES YOU REMIND YOURSELF ARE ESSENTIAL NUTRIENTS FOR THE EFFECTIVE GROWTH OF THE STRENGTH OF ‘ME.’
Dr. Clark Falconer is a Guest Blogger for PickTheBrain. He is a practicing Psychiatrist from Vancouver, Canada and the author of the new, critically acclaimed book The Three Word Truth About Love And Being Well.
Photo credit: ‘Alpinist‘ by Big Stock