Attachment – Why We Undermine Our Own Happiness

Happiness is a multi-billion dollar industry – therapy, medication, self-help groups, books, courses, conferences.  If that many people are seeking happiness, an awful lot of people are unhappy.  Edmund Bergler , a student of Sigmund Freud, believed much of our unhappiness is self-inflicted.  “Man’s inhumanity to man is equaled only by man’s inhumanity to himself,” he wrote in  “The Writer and Psychoanalysis”.   The roots of unhappiness, Bergler believed, lay in our attachments  to self-defeating emotions which resulted in self-defeating behaviors. Read more

Emotional Suffering, Attachment and Awareness

In the Buddhist tradition suffering is caused by attachment – attachment to a person, an outcome, an image, a possession, attachment to suffering itself.  As most people are attached to something, we all suffer to greater or lesser degrees.  We suffer when someone dies, we lose a relationship or a job, when we perceive someone has betrayed us or we have lost face.  The suffering usually takes the form of sadness, despair, anger, fear or a host of other emotions we don’t like to feel on a regular basis.  It’s normal to resist such suffering, to try to push it away, get over it, deny it.  Awareness tells us there is a more profitable way. Read more

Use Your Breathing to Manage Your Emotions

For anyone who has difficulty managing emotions, a study carried out by staff from the University of Quebec and the University of Louvain demonstrated that breathing is one of the most effective ways to manage strong feelings.

The study, entitled Respiratory Feedback in the Generation of Emotion (Philippot & Blairy, 2002), involved two groups of volunteers. Group 1 was asked to produce four emotions (joy, anger, fear and sadness) through the use of memory, fantasy and by modifying their breathing pattern. During each emotion, scientists monitored and analyzed the volunteers’ breathing patterns – speed, location in the lungs, volume of air.  They used their findings to draw up a list of breathing instructions to go with each emotion.  Their findings might surprise people who believe emotions are set in stone and outside our control. Read more

The Global Inspiration Conference – Radical Awareness Through Breathing

Next month I’m giving a keynote speech at the annual Global Inspiration Conference.  And because it’s taking place in Ireland, I have the added bonus of a trip home.  I’m talking about Radical Awareness, the kind of awareness that comes when we meditate, breathe deeply, pray…or it just comes spontaneously.  Science calls Radical Awareness altered consciousness.  But before Western psychology as we know it developed,  states of Radical Awareness were called mystical and they were quite “normal”.  And a Gallop Poll from 2002 showed that over 80 million American adults have had a profound experience of awakening that influenced the course of their life. Read more

Where Emotions Can Take Us – Infographic

Here’s a great infographic on the range of human emotion and the kind of behavior emotions can generate.   To enlarge it, run your cursor to the middle of the picture and click on the circle that appears.

Infographic on Emotions

Emotional Awareness 5: My Default Thinking Pattern

In my experience, emotions usually indicate something is afoot.  But that “something” is not always what we think it is.  And it’s not always as big or as little as we think it is.  Emotions are sign posts telling us we need to look deeper into ourselves and the situation that has generated the feeling.  The skill of Awareness does the rest of the work.  Awareness helps us uncover exactly what lies at the root of the feeling that troubles us so much. Read more

Emotional Awareness 4: Blinded By Feeling

Once we recognize the presence of strong emotion  and have named it, the next step on the path of emotional awareness is to recognize that this feeling, this joy or sorrow or anger that can seem all consuming, may or may not be a reliable guide to reality.

In the grip of emotion, this fact can be hard to reach.  If we feel this strongly, surely there must be a real, objective, verifiable reason.  And often there is.  Those footsteps behind us on the street may signal real and imminent danger.  But equally, the sound of footfalls might just mean someone is walking behind us.  Read more

Emotional Awareness Part 3: What am I Feeling?

Emotional Awareness begins with becoming aware that:

1) We are in fact in the grip of an emotion,

2) The world we see through the lens of that emotion may not be the world as it really is and

3) Because we may not be seeing clearly, the emotion has the power to limit our awareness as well as our freedom of choice and action.  It can lead us into doing things we later regret.

How do we recognize emotions?  Read more

Emotional Awareness Part 2: Where do Emotions Come From?

Have you ever been so immersed in an emotion that’s all there is, the emotion?  It’s a natural reaction to the birth of a wanted child, for example, or the death of someone we have loved.  But emotional “swamping” is not always proportionately related to life events.  In the throes of disproportionate emotional reaction, our Awareness can be so overcome by the feeling itself, there’s no room to look at where that emotion comes from.  Yet, uncovering the source of our feelings is the foundation for managing our emotional life. Read more

Emotional Awareness Part 1: Emotional Overwhelm

Recovery, the self-help group for people suffering from depression, has a catch phrase:  “Feelings Are Not Facts.”  In other words, what we feel is not always a reliable guide to what is real or true in our lives.  Yet many of our day to day thoughts and actions are based on what we feel.  When we’re caught up in emotion, our Awareness of what’s truly happening around us can be severely handicapped resulting in limited choices and poor decisions. Read more