Minimizing Unnecessary Suffering
I have a rule I call the “Red Flag Rule” that simply goes like this:
This one simple principle, once understood and practiced, will do more to save you from unnecessary suffering and misery than anything else I know of.
Part of the beauty of our design is that we have emotional intelligence built in to us. We’re often not fully aware of the thoughts we are believing at any given moment, but we are always aware of how we feel. One of the most important uses of our emotions is to give us immediate feedback as to the quality of thoughts we are believing at any given moment.
If you understand this, then when you are feeling upset or discouraged or resentful or angry or any other “heavy” emotion, take it as a red flag that you are believing untrue thoughts. No matter how true they appear and how much evidence you have to support your belief in them, if you are feeling lousy, you can’t trust them. Do not try to solve any of your perceived problems or fix your relationships or take defensive or attacking actions that your personality is so convinced you need to take. Any decisions or actions you take while feeling upset will just make things worse. You probably have many examples of how this is true in your experience. Trust your emotional intelligence, not your personality’s insecurity, no matter how cleverly it disguises its insecurity.
When you feel lousy, the best course of action is to DO NOTHING. Just do your best to wait it out. Wait and listen with more intent for the soft voice of your Soul reminding you of the truth and of what’s important and what’s not.
Am I Advocating Denial Of Circumstances?
Over the years as I’ve shared this simple rule with people, I’ve gotten some fairly typical reactions. Mostly people have found it very helpful, even if somewhat counter-intuitive. It’s not actually counter intuitive, but rather counter-conditioning, it is opposite of the way your personality has been conditioned to react. It’s also common that people will resist this idea as too simplistic or an avoidance mechanism- like I am advocating denial.
It is not what you see that makes you upset, but what you perceive- or rather what you believe it means. No event or outside circumstance has the power to make us feel anything. It is only the meaning we give to an event or circumstance (the thoughts we believe about it) that causes us to feel anything.
What Our Emotions Are Really Telling Us
Our emotions are feedback- not of outside events, but of the thoughts we are believing about those events. This has to be true because two people can experience the same event and one can become very upset about it while the other can feel grateful. When we feel upset it means that we are believing a thought along the lines of “this shouldn’t have happened” or “this is a bad thing and means something even worse.” Every event you experience has many possible meanings. The one you believe is the one you will feel emotionally, that’s just the nature of the human operating system.
I’m not saying you won’t or shouldn’t ever feel upset. We all do at times, and of course anyone has a right to feel that way. In fact I would take it a step further and say it’s not just a right, it’s a guarantee. If your personality believes that an event has a meaning that threatens it, you are guaranteed to feel upset, and so long as you continue to perceive it that way, you will continue to feel upset whenever you think of it, whether it happened yesterday, last year or decades ago.
I’m not suggesting we deny circumstances. I am suggesting we question our judgments about what they mean and at least allow for the possibility that there are other possible meanings to every event or circumstance- and some of them can only be seen with time and perspective.
The Power Question For Minimizing Unnecessary Suffering
As for changing or improving things, I’m all for that too. The question is, do you want to change or improve from a place of being upset or from a place of accepting what is and choosing what you want to create from there. One of the most important questions you can ask yourself in any situation you find yourself in is this… I call it the power question:
I hope you’ll adopt this “Red Flag Rule” as a personal rule you use to help you question whatever you are believing if you are feeling lousy about it. Instead, wait it out, listen for the voice of the Soul and once you are feeling more calm and collected, ask yourself the power question.