If we understand and make use of this simple awareness technique, we can increase our likelihood of having positive interactions. Our feelings are indicators for the quality of our thoughts. When we are feeling good, our thoughts are like a fluid body of water sloshing around, folding over on themselves, and mixing in other new ideas and information. This is multi-dimensional thinking.
When we are feeling bad, our thoughts harden into a solid spear with one forward thrusting direction. The ego forms a metaphorical shell around the thoughts, gripping them tightly, and making everything about ourselves; allowing in no new information. This is one dimensional, linear thinking.
Qualifying the Qualifiers
Feeling good vs bad is not the same as good and evil. Imagine a scale with 10 feeling ecstasy and 1 feeling extreme pain or depression. We are always somewhere on this scale. Feeling pain is not bad in a good and evil sense. It is an indicator that something is wrong and needs attention. The thoughts we have, however, when feeling pain are very different from the types of thoughts we feel when we are feeling happy.
Consider personal relationships through this lens and you can see how we can improve our positive interactions. Ever notice that when we feel bad (e.g. angry, sick, envious) we can suddenly lose all perspective on the people we interact with? When conflict of some form arises it becomes very easy to see everything that person does through the lens of that anger. Their motivations become suspicious (“why would they do that to ME?” “what are they really after?”) and we focus on distinctions between us (“they just can’t understand” “I need to look out for me”). We cannot easily hear the things that do not jive with our current collection thoughts.
And the opposite holds for people when we feel love; we look past their shortcomings and assume the best of their intentions. When we are mad at someone else, suspicion creeps into our thoughts about their motivations and actions. When we are in love, we see their decision making in the best light possible. We see past the faults of the people on our “team” but bring hyper focus to those of our “opposition”.
Genres Shape Understanding
A film’s genre shapes the context through which we understand movies. The same line can illicit very different meanings when we are watching a comedy vs a thriller. Our emotions are like the genre of a film. Our thoughts are like the scenes of the movie. By knowing the genre of our “this moment life-movie” we can better understand our thoughts.
Always = Never
When we are using words like “she always…” and “he never…”, we can usually find that we are thinking about things in one dimension. And thinking in one dimension means that we are operating under the control of the ego! It is makes any advancement in understanding, compromise, or consensus very difficult.
No one is all good or all bad. No one is intelligent about everything or nothing. And everyone has areas where they are incredibly intelligent and the opposite. Even with fields we are very familiar there is ALWAYS more to learn. If we can contain our ego and recognize we have more to learn then we will increase the likelihood of having positive interactions with others even in charged situations.
Awareness Technique for Positive Interactions
Relationships of life come in many shapes and sizes. Some or brief and small like holding the door for a stranger. Some relationships are big and endure decades like family. But this same system connecting our thoughts and emotions holds true through all our interactions. So here is a simple awareness technique to make use of whenever we feel like we are not having a positive interaction: Take a breathe. Recognize how you are feeling right now. Start witnessing your thoughts through that lens. Simply by increasing our awareness about our own motivations and workings we can take more control over them… or, rather, let go of them more…
Flip it and Reverse it
This awareness technique can be applied in reverse too! If we can recognize we are thinking in a solid state rather than fluid, then we can back that up into seeing our emotional state. Being aware of how we are feeling is a muscle that can always be strengthened.
Multi-Dimensional Time Traveler
Interestingly, when we are in ego/solid thought mode, time slows down. Think of how slowly time moves when our thoughts are bouncing around in a solid state. Five minutes of arguing with someone can feel like hours and physically drain us as if it was! Whereas when we are feeling good, time starts flying by and hours feel like minutes. Five hours of playing a fun game with friends can feel like minutes!
With continuously increasing awareness I will work towards seeing everyone I interact with as multi-dimensional beings full of complexity. My feelings are indicators for my thought patterns. The more liquid and fluid my thoughts, the more dimensions I can see in.
If this subject matter intrigues you check out Jack Pransky’s book, “Somebody Should Have Told Us”!
How about you? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think? How do our thoughts relate to our feelings? How does multi-dimensional thinking relate to having positive interactions?