One of the constants in all of our lives is challenge, as without challenge what would be the point in even being here? We, as souls inflict a veil of forgetfulness and limitation upon our consciousness so we can partake in the challenges of discovering who we are, from a perspective that wouldn’t be possible in a timeless state or in spirit.
Challenges can be defined either in a positive or a negative way. If you look at the challenges in a positive way or in a way that enables you to feel excited when they manifest, then you will be more willing and capable of overcoming them. If you define the challenges in a negative way, and label them as problems or bad luck for example then you are not taking responsibility for your own creative power and making yourself a victim. Of course, we are human and have emotions, and there is nothing wrong in being sad or upset whenever something happens that may seem unpleasant on the surface. One thing people need to realize however is that there is always a bigger picture. One doesn’t even need to know how the challenging times may serve them in the future. If you don’t see how right now, that is okay, just label it positively anyway and take it for granted that you will see how whenever the time is right.
One of the main pioneers of CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) Albert Ellis said this about human emotions and the way people typically react to challenges that manifest in their experience;
“Emotions are either appropriate or inappropriate. When you feel sorry, annoyed, regretful or disappointed when something has gone wrong in your life or you have been dealt with unjustly, it’s very sane….’Appropriate feelings’ means appropriate to your desires to survive and to be happy. Inappropriate negative feelings are emotions such as depression, anxiety, despair and worthlessness that tend to make obnoxious conditions and frustrations worse, rather than help to overcome them.”
Our emotions are a huge part of our humanity, good and bad. Mastery over your emotions isn’t becoming a robot or suppressing negative emotions when the external world triggers them. We are here to be in the world and not of it, and similarly we need to feel all of our emotions yet not allow them to define us or be not of them. Paramahansa Yogananda, the enlightened master from India who lectured all over the USA around the early 20th century and who wrote one of the greatest spiritual books of all time, Autobiography of a Yogi displayed this perfectly. Yogananda was very ‘human’ and that’s why I believe so many people adore him, as he showed us that he is indeed one of us and by his example he showed us all that we are capable of achieving the heights he did.
Yogananda was ridiculed and his organization was accused of all sorts when in the USA. He was very upset and even angry and the lies of the media, yet he didn’t allow it to define him. Whenever a challenge manifested in his life then he always retreated inwardly to God, or to himself. Masters such as Yogananda knew that it was never the circumstance that triggered negative emotions within us, but it was simply the way we unconsciously define it and our relationship to it. Yogananda bounced back even stronger after all that ridicule and travelled back to India to meet his Guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri, after 15 years of separation apart. The two enlightened masters shed tears as they greeted and embraced one another, again displaying their perfect and authentic human natures.
A few weeks later, the master of Yogananda, Yukteswar Giri left his body while Yogananda was away. Yogananda was telegraphed and went to his master’s hermitage straight away. Upon arriving there he saw the corpse of his master, in Lotus posture absolutely lifeless. Yogananda was furious at the time and you can clearly see how hurt he was that his master had sent him away and then left his body while Yogananda was absent. Again, Yogananda is expressing his humanity, his emotions and it wasn’t wrong for him to feel grief, sad or pain even, that’s because he wasn’t identified with the emotions. He didn’t allow the emotions to define his sense of worth and sooner rather than later he overcame it all and returned to the west even stronger.
So, what is the ABC Model? The ABC Model was a system developed by the clinical psychologist Albert Ellis in which we could identify the beliefs that were making us react and define the challenges that manifest in our lives in a negative and degrading way. People, events or circumstances do not make us feel good or bad, they simply provide a stimulus. It is actually the cognitions (Beliefs and thoughts about them) that determine how we feel in any given situation.
To illustrate this Ellis devised the ABC model, where;
A stands for antecedent (the situation that triggers our reaction)
B stands for beliefs (our cognitions about the situation)
C stands for consequences (the way we feel and behave)
People have been programmed from a very early age to blame A or the situation that triggers their reaction but it is actually B, their beliefs that make them react and feel the way they do. Here is another example; Let’s say you are in a relationship and your partner befriends a member of the opposite sex and jealously arises within you.
A (antecedent) Partner is getting close to somebody of the opposite sex
C (consequences) Jealousy, paranoia, fears of being replaced, worthlessness
You are not feeling the jealously because she is getting close to a member of the opposite sex, you are feeling jealous because the situation has triggered many of the Beliefs in your unconscious mind. To be jealous and feel insecure over an innocent circumstance like this you would have to believe things such as: I am so worthless, she would leave me for anyone, members of the opposite sex can’t be close friends, she doesn’t love me, I am not good enough for her, and so on and so forth.
Introducing D: Dispute
Ellis used the term dispute to challenge the way we are thinking or defining the situations. Once we identify the thoughts and belief systems that are making us feel bad, our next step is to dispute them. There are a couple ways to do this and one of the most powerful methods is to see how completely illogical those beliefs actually are. Negative and degrading beliefs always go against the laws of creation and your true nature. Another aspect is to recognize where the beliefs actually come from, as they do not actually belong to you. They belong to the people who raised you, and the other people you spent your upbringing with, such as your siblings, friends and school teachers. They belong to the society itself.
You need to challenge the way you are thinking about the whole situation so back to our example of the jealous partner. He would need to think things such as, there are plenty of people who are the opposite sex and who are friends, even if she does leave me I still have myself, I love myself and that’s what matters, I love her so much that even if she wanted to leave me then that would be what’s best, she’s met many people who are the opposite sex before and she didn’t leave me for any of them. We need to challenge how illogical the distorted ways of thinking and believing are to really untangle ourselves from them, otherwise they will just keep on reinforcing themselves. Common sense goes a long way.
So, use this model to help you identify many of the beliefs that are unconsciously hijacking your perception. Once you understand that it’s not what you are looking at that counts but the way in which you are looking at it, then you are on your way to freedom as you can then define everything in a positive and beneficial way and be on your way to letting go and surrendering to whom and what you truly are.
Everything is neutral until you label it, and that is your free will, and although you may not have control sometimes of what manifests in your reality you always have the freedom to choose how you look at it, and the way you look at it determines how you feel about it and the way you feel about it determines what effect you will then get out of it. Always look on the bright side of life, because on that bright side you will discover more and more of yourself, as negative believing and definitions do nothing but reinforce that which never was truly you in the first place.
Paramahansa Yogananda always went back inwardly to himself to see how he was labelling the circumstances. He practised meditation and saw all the illusions of the negative beliefs that were making him feel weak and wanting to go home. The main point is that he always started with himself. He knew it was the way he was looking at it that determined his feelings. We need to do the same, there is a powerful saying by the Gnostic’s that goes; Know thyself, and the reason it is so powerful is because the moment you truly do then you have the freedom to experience anything in the way you truly prefer to.
Know thyself and ye shall know the world.
Thanks for reading.