Our survival instincts have gone through a major change over the years. The basic needs like food, clothing and shelter are more or less taken care of for many. So our protective energies are focused on defending the individual psychologically, rather than physiologically. This has brought about a big change in our lives, because now we are focused on protecting our ideologies, beliefs, and idiosyncrasies, rather than ourselves.
Like a deer who runs for his life when he sees his predator, the moment we experience our fears, insecurities and behavioral patterns being threatened, we withdraw into a shell or close down. It is not due to any physical danger, but when we feel challenged, it leads to feelings of fear, insecurity, or emotional turbulence, and then arises a need to protect our ego.
How often do we find ourselves trying to protect or defend this part of us?
When someone passes a comment on the way we look, our job, or something about our life, it brings up certain unpleasant thoughts. All this keeps building up inside.
“Most of us don’t have to worry about food, clothing, or shelter, we have the luxury of worrying about a spot on our pants, or laughing too loud, or saying something wrong. Because we’ve developed this hypersensitive psyche, we constantly use our energies to close around it and protect ourselves. But this process only hides the problems; it doesn’t fix them. You’re locking your illness inside yourself, and it will only get worse.” ~ Michael SingerThe Untethered Soul : The Journey Beyond Yourself
The longer we live like this, the more closed we become and the more scattered we feel. Like when we say, “he hit me where it hurts the most,” these are soft, vulnerable parts of us that we keep protecting.
How do we get rid of those scared parts of us? How do we liberate our mind from living in a shell?
Here are 5 ways to overcome our tendency to protect ourselves
The secret to letting go – breaking down the process
“It’s not a matter of letting go—you would if you could. Instead of ‘Let it go,’ we should probably say ‘Let it be.’” ~Jon Kabat-Zinn
Letting go is easier said than done. You might have read numerous articles on letting go – of your old habits, of your thought patterns, of your fears and so on. Letting go is a process in itself. It’s much more than just cleaning your closet and clearing up the clutter.
We have to view the situation wearing a different lens to get a different perspective. We have to forgive ourselves and others involved in the situation, because any inner work begins by forgiving. Spending time alone with our own thoughts and feelings, helps us to get in touch with those sensitive parts of us that we are defending so much.
Working on releasing stuck emotions, so we can think clearly.
All of the above doesn’t mean we will be able to let go in an instant and will feel free. It takes time, a long time, sometimes, to get in touch with those weak spots, to actually work on them and grow beyond them. It is a constant and gradual process.
When somebody says something and you feel uncomfortable about it, you feel the energy getting a bit strange inside or feel some tightening, then become aware about it. Feel it. That is the time for you to grow, instead of resorting to defence mechanisms, you become aware to avoid getting pulled into the negative loop.
Many times we just ignore when unpleasant things come up on a daily basis. We move on to the next stimulation, and then the next. It keeps accumulating until you feel all messed up. When you become aware of it, you are moving forward on the path of self growth. From this space of awareness, you can work on overcoming them.
For example – you see your friends doing very well in life, going on holidays and they seem happy. While you might not have the funds to go on holidays. You begin to sulk, you begin to think that I need to get a better job that pays well, or should I sell this and make some bucks, so I could also go on a holiday. Your mind takes you on a roller coaster ride and you are all scattered.
When you feel centered, you just go about your business, unfazed with whether you’re going on a holiday or not, and put your whole being into whatever’s happening in the moment, instead of putting your whole being into your personal sensitivity.
“If you aren’t centered, your consciousness is just following whatever catches its attention. You can just sit in the seat of consciousness and let go. A thought or emotion emerges, you notice it, and it passes by because you allow it to. This technique of freeing yourself is done with the understanding that thoughts and emotions are just objects of consciousness. When you see your heart start getting anxious, you are obviously aware of this experience.” said Singer
The one who is aware about it, is the consciousness, the Soul, the Self, the one who sees. The changes you experience in your inner energy flow are simply objects of this consciousness. The more you concentrate on it, they become charged with energy and power. This is why thoughts and emotions get stronger when you give them more attention.
If you want to be free, then every time you feel any change in the energy flow, relax behind it. Don’t resist it, or try to change it, or judge it. Simply relax and release!
Work on your willpower
Will is what keeps the world moving, it is one of the important aspects in our existence. If we aren’t willing to do something, it is not going to happen no matter how strong we are, or how powerful or able we are. Something as simple as walking, happens because we are willing to move from one place to another, or eating healthy is a test of our willpower. These are the basic human functions, so you can imagine that in order to let go, we need to have a strong will to transform our unhealthy habits into healthier ones.
When we “will” there is always something deeply, unconsciously present in the activity. Every time we are consumed by the need to defend ourselves when someone puts you down or says something nasty, we can feel the energy moving and being drawn into it. We have to develop the will to not get pulled into that energy.
It just takes a moment of conscious effort to decide that you’re not going there. We just let go. It’s simply a matter of taking the risk that you are better off letting go than going with the energy. When we’re free from the hold the energy has on us, we will be free to experience the tremendous joy that lies within us.
Take small steps
Begin with small things. We tend to get bothered by the little, meaningless things that happen every day. Like when someone unnecessarily blows their horn behind you, when there’s nothing you can do, and in an instant we experience a shift in energy and begin to curse under our breath or flip them the bird.
The moment you feel a change, remember to relax your shoulders and relax the area around your heart. Don’t focus on getting bothered, shift your focus on being free. “I am not going to react.”
When we learn to remain centered with the smaller things, we will see that we can also remain centered with the bigger things.
We might succeed at having a new way of reacting, and of letting go, but there will also be days when we fall right back into it. Don’t worry. Keep going at it. The pull into the negative whirlwind is going to be constant, your willingness to let go and release has to be constant too. These energies aren’t bad or impure, or once you let go doesn’t mean it won’t keep coming up, but your reaction to it would have changed.
“There’s a place deep inside of you where the consciousness touches the energy, and the energy touches the consciousness. That’s where your work is. From that place, you let go. Once you’ve let go, every minute of every day, year after year, then that’s where you’ll live. Nothing will be able to take your seat of consciousness from you. You’ll learn to stay there. After you’ve put years and years into this process, and learned to let go no matter how deep the pain, you will achieve a great state. You will break the ultimate habit: the constant draw of the lower self. You will then be free to explore the nature and source of your true being— Pure Consciousness.”