We all have emotions, we all have thoughts. The trick is not to let them rule our life. If we have emotions, we have to let go of them. But how to let go of emotions?
To let go, we have to see what they are and even have to go one step further back: see what we are. If you stand in front off the mirror you see ‘you’, the person you are now. A person with the body you have now. If I look at myself, I see a 42 years old man, with ‘the body of a yogi’. 19 years ago my body looked different. I had the body of a 23 years old marathon runner. Ten years before that I had the body of a 13 years old, soccer playing boy. And ten years before that I had the body of a 3 years old, little kid. My body is continuously changing. So I can’t be my body, because my body is everyday different. Literally. Within 7 years time 99 percent of our body has changed, because every day thousands of cells are replaced.
That 23 years old, marathon runner was a journalist and thought he had the coolest job in the world. Okay, maybe one thing was cooler: being a sports journalist. Ten years later that dream came true and it was the coolest job in the world. Now, 20 years later I still have the coolest job in the world. But I’m not a sports journalist anymore: I’m a yoga teacher (and massage therapist, blogger, photographer and video maker). My thoughts over what the best job is for me have changed; over time. So I can’t be my thoughts, because my thoughts change all the time.
Living the way I do – on the road – meant I had to end the relationship I was in, when I was still at home. Going together on this trip was no option and living the way I want, didn’t agree with the way she wanted. I deeply loved her, but I had to let go. I was very, very sad about splitting up. Now, looking back ‘letting go’ was one of the best things I ever did. I set myself free and gave her the chance to find somebody who wants the same out of life as she wanted. My emotions about breaking up that relation have changed. So if my emotions change, I can’t be my emotions.
But if I’m not my body, if I’m not my thoughts and I’m not my emotions, who or what am I? I am the one that sees my body is changing, I am the one that sees my thoughts are changing and I am the one that sees my emotions are changing which makes me a witness. The one that sees what is happening.
I am not my emotions
Knowing I am not my body, emotions or thoughts, knowing I am the witness makes it easy to stop identifying with my body, thoughts and emotions. I am not angry, there is anger inside of me. I am not afraid, there is fear inside of me. This also makes it possible to do a step back when ‘I am’ emotional. Now I know the emotion is going on, but it is not me, I can step back and look at it: as the witness. I know this emotion is created because of something that has happened in my past. A little neuro linguistic bridge I created in my mind connecting an emotion to a situation. Ending up in more or less the same situation just brings this old emotion back. So knowing that and knowing I am not the emotion I can look at it ‘from the outside’.
For example: I went with my (by now former) girlfriend for the first time to a party of her friends. After dinner a few people stayed at the table and a few others set down at the sofas. One girl had a headache, so a guy gave her a massage. Another girl saw that and said: ‘My head hurts a bit as well, so I would also like a massage.’ I’m a massage therapist so I offered and gave her a massage. My girlfriend walked into the room, saw this, got really upset and wanted to leave the party straight away. I had no clue why. I gave massages to people day after day as part of my work.
Back home she was able to do the ‘step back’. To look at her anger as something that was going on and to look at what it had caused. The girl I had given the massage to was seemingly a girl who flirted a lot. My girlfriend had had a relationship where she was about to marry when her fiance cheated on her with an ex of him; also a girl who flirted a lot. Seeing me massaging this girl brought back that old emotion. Activated this neuro linguistic bridge in her mind.
But I’m not him and this girl was not the flirting girl her fiance went to bed with. Realizing this and realizing she activated this bridge, she could look at that old emotion with new eyes, with a fresh view which broke down the neuro linguistic bridge.
So to let go of old emotions we want to step back when they pop up again of when we come into a situation the neuro linguistic bridge in our mind is reactivated again. If we step back we can shine new light on this old emotions and truly see what has happened back then, how it influences our lives and this new light will make the emotion disappear. Some of the old emotions we have are that strong they don’t evaporate at once. We need to look at them three, four, maybe even five times. But the more we realise we are not our emotions, the more we step back and look at them as a witness, an outsider, the more we can shine new light on them and the more old emotions we can let go.