You are not your thoughts and emotions. Phrase, actually for me a mantra that I learned from Jari Sarasvuo.
Thoughts and emotions are not us. If we are the observer on the river, then the thoughts and the emotions are the water and everything that goes down with the river.
When things go better, I remember this.
When things start to get worse, I’ve forgotten this. I get tricked by my emotions and thoughts to believe they are actually me. Therefore I wrote, so that I might remember. I write to remind myself and others.
Our life becomes the reflection of those feelings and emotions that we take refuge in when we are sensing a challenge arising.
As observer of the river, we may choose the way we respond to these thoughts and emotions. When a fish jumps, what do you do?
What about when you see a black tentacle monster beneath the water surface glaring you with gleaming eyes? Is it courage? Curiosity? Compassion? Or perhaps it is cowardice?
Personally my habit in such strange situation would be probably cowardice. It’s not my desired habit, therefore I would like to transform it into something mix of courage, caution, curiosity and compassion.
More than our thoughts and emotions, we are collection of the habits by which we react to feelings. In Power of Habits book, there was a case about a man who had lost his memory, yet his habits did remain.
Winston Churchill said that the primary virtue in life is the courage, because it’s prerequisite for any action. I happen to agree on this one.
About ten years ago I learned from Steve Pavlina’s blog that the courage is like a muscle. Since then my life has been transformed. However, somewhere in between, I’ve stopped training my courage like at my greatest moments I’ve been: consciously and proactively.
So I’ve recognized at least one habit response to an emotion and it is cowardice. I would like a better habit and that would be courage.
In the same way I learned to observe other thoughts and feelings too. In case of feelings, what kind of thoughts precede? In case of thoughts, what kind of feelings or emotions follow? Becoming aware of the stream, makes you master of the stream.
Practice every day until the behavior is your nature.