We all face challenges and must find ways of dealing with difficult emotional states such as envy, dislike, anxiety, fear, and general distress. Coping effectively allows for us to move through distress with greater ease. Below are several useful contemplations and practices that can be helpful in expanding our capacity to cope with greater ease.
When faced with a feeling of envy or a greed, particularly towards others, it is useful to contemplate impermanence and letting go.
Change is a central feature of life. Buddhism points us toward equanimity during times of change. The Buddha taught that suffering is not inherent in the world of impermanence; suffering arises when we cling and grasp. When clinging disappears, impermanence no longer gives rise to suffering. The solution is to end clinging or grasping to our version of how the world should be and turn toward acceptance of change.
Recognize that all conditioned things are impermanent. All that we have and everyone we know is subject to change.
When we experience aversion or a strong feeling of dislike and distress it is useful to contemplate kindness, gentleness, patience and spaciousness.
Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Think of times when you have experienced kindness and contemplate how this felt. Bring an intention to act with kindness throughout your day.
Gentleness is the quality of being kind, courteous, and tender with softness of action. Think of a time when you experienced gentleness and contemplate how this felt. Bring an intention to act or react with gentleness throughout your day.
Patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. Think of a time when others were patient with you and contemplate how this felt. Bring an intention to act with patience throughout your day.
Spaciousness as an attitude is the willingness to suspend the process of meaning-making and judgement. It is the willingness allow for uncertainty and ambiguity by creating mental and emotional space. It is an experience of expansiveness. Spaciousness feels like widening the space between stimulus and response, such that you can stop living in reaction and begin responding skillfully to reality. Think of a time when you connected with a sense of spaciousness and contemplate how it felt. Develop an intention to connect with a sense of spaciousness throughout your day.
When faced with anxiety, fear, and doubt, it is useful to contemplate a sense of being grounded in our values and connecting with a sense of meaning.
Grounded-ness is the quality of being well balanced and calm. It is a parallel to the experience and practice of equanimity. Practice being grounded through your body by walking barefoot, lying on the ground, submersing yourself in water, and connecting with your five senses. Reflect on what things help you feel calm and give yourself permission to practice these more regularly.
Values are guiding principles and involve our judgement for what is important. Personal values are those beliefs we hold most dear. They can be goals that motivate us and touchpoints for how we define ourselves and make meaning out of our experiences. Think of a time when you experienced yourself as acting in accordance with your values and contemplate how this felt. Bring an intention to live into your values or act according to your values throughout your day.
Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.
Visit us at lindquistpsych.com
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