From foe to friend A Zen perspective
As we struggle with our emotional ego, we are developing mental habits that feed our pain.
When we find ourselves suffering, we can notice the familiar negative feelings of guilt, shame blame, and anger.
These are types of judgments that we pass on others and that others impose on us. As we become aware of our habits, we can develop new responses that redirect and reduce these painful thoughts.
What causes our suffering is our own judgments. It is very hard for us to stop judging ourselves and others, and it is even harder for us to help others stop judging. What we can do is notice our
judgments and then change our own habits. Judging should be required only when requested and when we have to make a decision; otherwise, it is a wasted mental /emotional energy.
Guilt and blame are alike because when we feel guilty we blame ourselves, and when we cast blame to others, we assign guilt to them. Whether we accept or assign blame, we fuel negative feelings either about ourselves or another person. In either way, we are the ones who suffer the most from these powerful feelings.
So, we need to create mental desensitization to balance this negativity by being more compassionate and forgiving with ourselves thru awareness & acceptance.
At the opposite of guilt/blame comes righteousness. Believing that we are right most of the time is also a recipe form a painful reality that we missed initially.
Pride and shame are the polar ends of the ego spectrum. The spectrum represents our basic perception of ourselves. We are better or worse depending on the situation. In the absolute world we are all wonderful beings. In the relative world, we use pride and shame to rank ourselves among each other. We even compare who we think we are to who we want to be. That ranking system, which is mostly unconscious and fluctuates widely with our moods, may cause a lot of anguish and feeds into all kinds of judgments, leading to more guilt, shame, pride, and blame.
How to desensitize this emotional roller coaster starts with taking a deep breath.
When you bring your attention to your breath, suddenly you become actively aware and present. Ego & Emotion fall. When you feel bad, your self-judgments will be negatively biased and harsh. Remembering that you are basically goodwill counteracts those shame-filled self-assessments.
Connecting with your breath and the present moment may not make our negative feelings going away totally, but breathing slows them down rather than controlling you.
It gives you the opportunity to 1) Accept them and 2) To consider a compassionate response, to forgive yourself and others. Whatever compassionate action you choose, you have an opportunity to delete your negative judgment.
Guilt, shame, pride, blame, anger, fear, and many more are very strong daily mental habits.
They will always find new and creative ways to penetrate our psyches.
As we practice, in a mindful way, acceptance and compassion to them each time they arise
we get new habits that protect us and those around us from the negative biases.
Taking time to breathe, to be present, and inviting acceptance and compassion is like adding breaks to runaway trains of negative thought.
When we can appreciate our absolute goodness, we can better negotiate the relative world of ego. When we can put down our own judgments, we feel compassion for ourselves and for others who suffer from the same negative judging habits.
Negative feelings from judgment are here to pop-up anytime and forever. We do not have any control of their occurrence but, when we learn to observe and accept rather than fighting them,
we are able to find serenity progressively over time.