The practice of mindfulness is to be aware of the semi-tangible that is your thoughts, feelings, and actions. That, in turn, helps to make you better aware of the intangible that is your overall mindset/headspace/psyche.
What’s inside your head? You, and only you, can answer that question. Sometimes.
There are times that I know I am thinking and feeling a certain, completely intangible way I cannot express for shit.
So, it is entirely possible to be feeling a certain way — but have no means to express it. Nor, frankly, to express the precise why or how of it.
Rather than just ignore this it’s a good idea to try to work it out.
Why? Because when you don’t, and you are feeling off, or out-of-sorts, getting back into control is much harder when you haven’t any understanding of where your control and influence slipped.
The other problem with being unable to identify why you are feeling a certain way is that it may cause you to be over-sensitive, to overreact to things, or to generally be in a mood or state of mind you’d prefer to not be in.
The subconscious has no filters
Your subconscious mind is like the biggest sponge in the world. It continually absorbs everything that it comes into contact with. People, places, things, experiences, environments, material and immaterial stuff will all have an impact and make an impression.
Some of those things will just more-or-less bounce off the surface. This is because you have, in the past, erected filters and barriers in preparation and anticipation of them.
Others, however, will be absorbed — some more and some less.
Some matters make little to no impact but are still absorbed. For example, celebrity gossip. This is not something I care about — yet, from time to time, I absorb some through my subconscious. I read something on Facebook, Twitter, or some other media and it sticks.
This is low-impact. It’s the other bits — almost entirely intangible — that can be most problematic.
Every bit of news and information that you encounter soaks into your subconscious. When you are not on guard for it or have any barriers or filters in place to deal with it — it sinks in.
Sometimes it just sits there, pooling and becoming a nasty, stinky blot that inadvertently causes you to feel a certain way. Other times, though, it takes up root and molds — taking on a life of its own.
This is how learned behaviors that you may not choose consciously to maintain exist. You absorbed your parents’ casual racism, a family member’s sexism, and ideas about yourself that no longer hold true.
They take up root in your unfiltered subconscious — and things happen now, in the present, that make you feel or think subconsciously in a way that, consciously, you wouldn’t.
When you recognize and acknowledge this — you can now act on it.
Sometimes it seeps through the cracks to the conscious mind
There are times where it is hard to find that deep, old, unfiltered thing that causes you to feel what you are feeling. That’s why therapy can be a really useful tool. It’s all about finding old, outdated thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that may not register with you anymore — and then therapy works on removing and replacing them.
But the subconscious is ALWAYS absorbing — and shit happens that causes you not to catch it and deal with it immediately. That story about the latest attempt by Trump to subvert the democracy you may not have read more than a headline about — but it still got under your skin. Another innocent murdered just for being black and no police held accountable — again, maybe you only skimmed it, but it still made an impression.
Then, on a personal level, let’s say you are having a rough day. The kids are being terrorists, your parents are unreasonable and crazy, some jerk at the store refused to wear a mask, a friend posted something irksome online, and similar happenings. You have done your best not to let this impact upon you.
But then, you find that you are short-tempered, frustrated, confused, angry, scared, and other negative emotions. Out of seemingly nowhere they bubble to the surface. No specific thing you can put your finger on explains to you why you are feeling this way.
You have no desire to feel like this — but you do. Maybe you can identify why — but maybe not. Perhaps you can deal with it — but it might also upset you further because it makes no sense.
What the hell is this shit? Why are you feeling this way?
Chances are you are not checking in with your subconscious enough.
Wring out your subconscious mind-sponge
This is where meditation can be useful for being still and getting ahold of what is in your head. When you quiet the mind, you can better identify subconscious issues — bring them to the surface — and remove or replace them.
For some people, meditation just does not work. What can you do? Try stream-of-consciousness journaling. Sit down at your computer or with a pad and paper or journal and write. Whatever comes to mind write it out. There is no right and wrong here, you just get it all down.
This may show what’s gotten under your skin. This makes you more conscious of your subconscious mind.
Another option is to take a whopping two minutes and just practice deep breathing. Deep breath in, deep breath out for two minutes. That’s all, nothing else. It can be pretty amazing how greater airflow helps you to clear your head.
Don’t just think, but ASK aloud these questions, and others like them:
· What am I thinking?
· How am I feeling?
· What am I feeling?
· Why do I feel this way?
All of these pull your mind to the now and to consciousness. Asking these questions of yourself then lets you answer them — which is a key practice of mindfulness.
You can even combine all of these from time to time to clear your subconscious out and be more aware of your conscious mind. That is how you wring out your subconscious and open yourself to more control over how you think and feel.
This leads to a very important thing to note.
You are feeling the way you feel — forgive yourself
When you can’t quite put your finger on why you feel a certain way, and you find that you are feeling short-tempered, frustrated, confused, angry, scared, and other negative emotions — it may drive your actions.
You snap at someone. Online, you rant at someone. You lash out at somebody who says something unintentionally inappropriate. Someone gets cursed out. Something you read makes you so angry you throw something.
This tends to be sudden and passionate. Like a volcanic eruption of emotion.
And it might be unfair, unjust, unkind, and not something you would normally do. So, now you feel like shit.
It is a perfectly natural reaction to experience guilt when this happens. That can cause a few reactions — you might feel really bad; or even angrier or more depressed; it might spin you like a top into a downward spiral; it may do some combination of all of these and more.
This is where being mindful and conscious of your thoughts, feelings, and actions are so important. When you are conscious you can control your feelings better and more easily. You can work to be conscious of your thoughts and not let the subconscious crap have power.
You can then forgive yourself. I know that when I can’t understand why I am feeling a certain way — and it causes me to react poorly — I feel bad. Then I feel guilty about that.
I am only human. It happens. Recognizing and acknowledging this, now I need to forgive myself, let it go, release it, and move on.
Forgive, but don’t forget. Work to be better at being conscious and mindful in the here-and-now. That helps keep those unbidden feelings from surprising you and overwhelming.
I don’t know about you — but I want people to be kind, compassionate, empathetic, and understanding. Logic and reason in the face of uncertainty are very reassuring.
If you want to get them — it’s good to give them. So before you rant about how awful this thing or that is — or express your annoyance about that stupid jerk who slighted you ten years ago — or feel like calling out an ally for being imperfect — what would YOU want to receive?
When you practice kindness, compassion, empathy, and understanding to others you tend to get it back in return. What’s more, when you are consciously taking these steps you build up positive energy that will help deal with those unwanted feelings that come to the surface.
You have all the power to control your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Nobody else can — this is your empowerment. Take some time to be mindful of your conscious mind — and you will better know and understand why you are feeling this way — whatever way you are feeling.
Know that you are worthy and deserving of using mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done our thoughts, feelings, and actions matter, as does how conscious we are of them.