Whatever our spiritual or personal growth philosophy, it is likely to include a striving to deepen our emotional stability and equanimity. Meditation can be a powerful tool for us to find sources of inner peace while we are by ourselves. And it can be quite tempting to assume the blissful states we experience in meditation reflect our true advancement and state of equanimity. But one of the great benefits of this multidimensional school we call life is that it comes with a diversity of people to really assist us in our growth. And there seem to be at least two kinds of people one can readily count on to help us measure our true emotional balance. Close family members and call centre staff. Ok the second is somewhat tongue in cheek, but there is something about the impersonal yet dependent relationship we often have with call centre staff, and the experiences of being on hold for long periods of time and being passed from person to person, that can be especially triggering. This article was inspired by just such a recent call centre experience, which gave me the opportunity to draw on two concepts I value greatly: non-violent communication and an understanding of energetic intrusion.
As long as we are subject to involuntary thought processes and emotional upheavals, we are limited in our capacity to serve others and likely to have impacts on ourselves and on those around us that we would prefer not to have. Most of us will know the feelings of deep regret after lashing out or being spiteful because we were in a place of anger or hurt (the two are usually intertwined). Establishing emotional stability is a tricky business, because we cannot do it by simply willing our emotions to change. Emotions need to be experienced and understood. That seems to be the only way in which we can transform them and get to a place where we can be both fully present to them and maintain a sense of peace.
There are different ways to befriend and become familiar with our emotions. For me the most effective tool to achieve this has been the framework of Non-Violent Communication (NVC) as developed by Marshal Rosenberg. You can access extensive resources and training in NVC for free online (for example a full course on youtube here and numerous texts and reference sheets here). NVC is a very comprehensive framework, and here I only give you a glimpse of some key concepts that help me understand, honour and care for my emotions. In a nutshell, NVC is focused on helping us make the connection between our needs and our emotions. NVC is based on the assumption that all human beings, regardless of our cultural, economic or gender background, have certain universal needs. This includes primary needs like, food, water and shelter. But it also includes needs that we may not think of straight away, because many of us have adapted to life without those needs being fully met. They are nonetheless fundamental needs such as connection, appreciation, recognition, affection, creativity, being truly seen, love and purpose.
There is a direct connection between our emotions and our needs, because when our needs are met, we are likely to feel positive and pleasant emotions. We may feel alive, content, expansive, relaxed, peaceful or even ecstatic. But when our needs are not met, we will experience different emotions. Unmet needs may cause us to feel furious, exasperated, hurt, anxious, apathetic, sad and so on.
Recognising the connection between needs and feelings is very empowering. It allows us to take full responsibility for our feelings. Rather than blaming someone else for “making us angry”, we can take ownership of our anger and understand that we are feeling angry because a particular need of ours has not been met. That way, rather than finding ourselves subject to our emotions, we can start to understand them as a guiding system to our needs. Because of the way we have been raised, having to fit into a system that imposes external expectations on us from a very young age, many of us are quite cut off from our needs, certainly our deeper ones. In different ways, both males and females in the western world are socialised not to have or express needs. With boys the focus is often on being self-sufficient and strong, i.e. do not to express any needs. With girls the focus tends to be more on taking care of others rather than themselves, but the effect is largely the same: we lose sight of our own fundamental needs and may even develop feelings of shame, guilt and internalised anger for having them. Once we start listening to our emotions, they can remind us. For example, I might feel frustrated and alone because I really need support. I am angry and resentful because I need respect. I am feeling hurt and sad, because my needs for connection and nurturing are not being met and so on.
Making this link can have a profound impact on our relationship with our emotions. It can help us understand and accept them and also empower us to take care of our needs more consciously. Once we realise that we are able to take care of our needs, we start to understand that we are also in charge of the emotions we experience. By honouring our needs, we will naturally experience many more uplifting emotions than heavy and difficult ones. And by realising that any behaviours of others that trigger us are also reflections of them seeking to meet their own needs, we can develop greater empathy. We do not need to necessarily express anything. The simple fact of us feeling genuine empathy for the other person may alter the way they show up and it certainly will alter the way we respond to life. Needs and emotions are a universal feature of the human experience, so we may as well take conscious charge of them!
As we develop our emotional awareness, we may find that we feel at peace most of the time. Work issues no longer trigger us the way they used to, nor does being stuck in traffic, someone cutting into the line at the shops, or misplacing our glasses. In each of those cases we may notice feelings of frustration, anger, impatience and so on. But once we become proficient at unpacking the needs that are not being met in that moment, including expressing and honouring those needs, purely in our mind and potentially without talking to another person, that process of self-care and self-acknowledgement alone can assist us come back to feelings of equanimity and balance. Of course, if feelings of frustration, boredom and so on persist and are recurring, for example in a dissatisfying job or relationship, then there comes a time when we do not just want to acknowledge our unmet needs but take deliberate action to meet them and make change.
I wanted to share the practical application of this model through a recent call centre experience, where I spent an hour on the phone with a customer service representative for my phone company. The experience generated strong feelings of frustration, because we seemingly could not understand each other. Using the NVC framework: my needs were for mutual communication, understanding and ease, and these not being met led to feelings of frustration and eventually exasperation. In doing so this interaction provided a beautiful learning opportunity about the relationship between self-responsibility and intrusion from external energies.
Attending to any energies attached to us from other persons
So far, I have spoken about emotional self-care and this is very important, because taking such care is what puts us in the driver’s seat of our inner experience. But despite all its richness, NVC does not take account of the multidimensional nature of life and the way we can energetically impact each other across time and space. In conscientiology, the concept of one person’s negative energies (thoughts and emotions) impacting another is called intrusion. In other words, intrusion happens when we are subject to pathological energies from another, or when our pathological energies impact on others. These interactions can occur between us and other physical persons or extraphysical persons and often there is a combination. For example, if a person emits resentful or even hateful thoughts and emotions towards another, it is quite likely that they have extraphysical company who are echoing their sentiments and adding to them, possibly even attaching themselves to the target of these emotional energies and harassing them through hostile energies. Where such extraphysical consciousnesses are involved, we are often completely unaware of the cause of our sudden mood shift or perpetual and unshakable yet quite irrational feelings of, e.g. anger, self-loathing, or depression.
We will all have experienced intrusion at some point, both from other physical people and from extraphysical ones. A very tangible example I have seen far too often in my own life is what I call a chain reaction of anger. For example, I lose my temper with my oldest child (because I did not attend to my needs properly), he then takes it out on his younger sister mirroring any anger he just experienced, and she then does the same on the youngest one. When a parent is angry with their child it can induce feelings of guilt and shame in the child. These are very unpleasant feelings to hold and it is natural to try and find a way to “pass them on”. Taking those emotions out on someone else is of course not a healthy way to manage our unpleasant feelings, but it seems quite instinctive and we can see it all around us. This is a very direct and common-place example of intrusion where any observer could see the emotional energy impacting the other person.
From a multidimensional point of view, it becomes more complicated, because one person’s feelings of shame, anger or frustration can also impact another even if there is no direct physical expression of them. Simply by two people connecting, even if their surface conversation is amicable, energetically we can still be influenced by each other’s subconscious or repressed feelings of resentment, frustration and so on, especially if we carry the seeds for those same feelings, which most of us do. In such as case we may leave the interaction feeling a strange sense of resentment that was not there before and we may direct it at some other issue in our life quite unrelated to the person we just met and completely unaware that our own inner feelings were just stirred up by the other person’s energy. Now imagine the same thing happening when the trigger is an extraphysical person we cannot see and do not even know is there.
Intrusion is a big topic that I will discuss in a dedicated post, but hopefully you get the general idea. In this case, my conversation with the call centre person was courteous but we were both clearly getting frustrated, and while I expressed my frustration (i.e. I told her clearly and calmly that I was getting frustrated and would like to speak with someone else) she professionally masked her feelings with customer service “politeness” and ever increasing determination to “assist me”. After I left the conversation, without her being able to resolve the issue, I felt like I could still feel her resentment and anger at me. But of course, I had to be cautious because maybe I was feeling my own feelings and projecting them onto her.
One of the risks of introducing the concept of intrusion into our universe is that we can end up blaming any unpleasant emotion and experience on others. Yes, intrusion is a reality, but the key entry point is always our own inner world. The initial cause for our anger, frustration or grief is found within ourselves. Intrusion then comes in and exploits that trait to amplify and possibly prolong our experience of pain. But to know that it is present and that we are not just projecting on the world, we need to first become really clear about our own inner experience.
Putting it all together
In this case, this involved first getting really clear about what needs were not being met in my interaction with the call centre lady and what emotions that triggered in me. There were a number of things that frustrated and exasperated me. She did not understand my request, despite repeated attempts to explain my situation. Sometimes she seemed to understand my request, repeating verbatim what I had just told her, but then added other elements that had nothing to do with what I had said, which was confusing. When I eventually asked her to put me through to another person, she did not respond to that request at first, trying to simply keep going as if I had not said anything. After I insisted repeatedly, she told me that I would have to wait at least an hour on the line, which left me feeling both daunted at that prospect and resentful at not being helped. It seemed to me that in her mind she had something at stake to complete this transaction, which made her invest a lot of dogged energy to keep going, even though it cannot have been easy for her either as I expressed my dissatisfaction increasingly clearly.
After the call I felt tense and irritated. So as not to indulge in complaining or negative thoughts about the person I had just dealt with, I needed to take care of myself first. I recognised my unmet needs which included ease, understanding and support. Doing so allowed me to empathise with my feelings and once I did that they quickly calmed down. At that point I became aware of additional thoughts and emotions that were present in my psychosphere, but did not feel like mine. Our psychosphere is the wider energetic field we emit and with which we interact with those around us in subtle ways all the time. If we become sensitive to it we can feel non-physical consciousnesses in our environment as well as the thoughts and emotions of others through that part of our energetic physiology.
It is hard to describe what it is like to feel something in the psychosphere, but it was like there were a set of repetitive thoughts and emotions running 10 or 20 centimetres away from my head, as if I could vaguely hear and feel another person right next to me. There was a “high pitched” quality to them that did not seem familiar and a really strong feeling of resentment and even rage. Having taken care of my own feelings, I now felt I could trust my perceptions and knew that these thoughts and emotions were not actually mine, but in some way coming from the person I had just dealt with. If I had not taken care of myself, this emotional energy could have become mixed up with and amplified my own frustration, and possibly even set me on track to think very negative thoughts about a person I had never actually met, or possibly lead me to take this amplified frustration, and a rage that wasn’t mine to begin with, out on someone else. But because I had become clear, I could now empathise with her needs, which I assumed to include competency, recognition and control. Instead of thinking resentful and negative thoughts about her, I could send her appreciation for helping me, not with the comparatively minor task of organising my phone plan, but the much more profound step of gaining greater clarity on the many subtle ways in which we interact and about my own traits that provide potential avenues for intrusion. Once we open up to the concept of intrusion, there is a risk of demonising anybody who “intrudes” us with their negative energies, when actually those are great learning opportunities for us about boundary setting and self-care.
This experience inspired the trivocabular megathosene: Others Bring Clarity
Kim McCaul is an anthropologist with a long term interest in understanding consciousness and personal transformation.
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This blog is about my interests in consciousness, energy, evolution and personal growth. My understanding of consciousness is strongly influenced by the discipline of conscientiology and I have a deep interest in exploring the relationship between culture and consciousness.
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