Today, I'd like to talk a bit about a basic mechanism that we all more or less take for granted & how that mechanism impacts the quality of our lives. There's a major life hack attached to this that we can only apply once our perspective changes.
Cause & effect are basic tenets of our Universe. Every action has an equal yet opposite reaction (thanks Newton!), and thus every stimuli we encounter creates a reaction & a response from ourselves and others. That response is nearly always met with an emotion of one kind or another, and the feelings within our reaction very often becomes part of a conditioned response.
When a response is conditioned, it is largely automatic, and this can either be a great thing, a terrible thing, or it can land us somewhere in the middle depending on our habits. This can be super innocuous and it's all too easy to avoid looking more closely at our automatic responses. This becomes doubly true if there's any manner of harsh or negative emotions at play within us, as the more unpleasant a situation is, the more we wish to turn away. This instinct is understandable, but the jury's our in whether or not it's helpful.
Generally, it isn't, as that unpleasantness usually becomes the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about. When this occurs, the ignored problem tends to worsen over time purely through our own negligence & lack of awareness.
This then creates a Cause/Effect/React loop within us and our life circumstances. Cause meets effect, and then our emotional state fuels an automated response that becomes part of a wider pattern in our lives. Over time, this can and very often does become a foundation for what we experience (**particularly if there's any manner of trauma complicating matters**).
This habitual response, if positive, can drive us to great heights and establish within our spheres an incredible amount of success. When that occurs, it's absolutely stellar & it's something to be celebrated!
.....But what happens when the habitual response is unhelpful? That's when we start to hurt ourselves & unravel our creations, and it's this effect of our conditioned response that I'd like to address here. It's this mental modality that allows us to become stuck in a rut of our own creation, and breaking that cycle becomes something of a necessity if we wish to experience something better in our lives.
So how to address it?
First, mindfulness becomes key. If you find that you're getting stuck in one mode of thinking or another, be aware of it and seek to challenge that status quo. This cultivation of awareness can help us to become more cognizant of what's going on around us. This mindfulness gifts us with the ability to more fully understand the subtext of a given situation, allowing us to reach and respond more intelligently.
Let's talk through some examples:
1) You're the nervous, anxious sort who almost always assumes that the quality of your interactions with others is poor because of some personal failing. You like to assume that you're being ignored because you aren't worth talking to, so you don't put much effort into conversations because you assume the worst. How do you change that?
Well, the first step is to take stock of what someone else has going on in their lives. If your friends aren't real chatty with you, ask them about what they've got on their plates and about their hobbies and weekends. Get involved and see what they're feeling and why, as this understanding of the flows of their lives will help you to more fully appreciate why they might be so pressed for time. It could be that they're genuinely too busy times have a proper conversation with someone else, or it could be that they're struggling with their mental health and that's taking up most of their energy.
If you find that they need a little space because life is crazy, give them some and let them focus while you cheer them on from the sidelines. If you find that they're really depressed and down, you can find a way to process and improve upon those emotions together, thereby leading to a stronger connection and friendship.
2) You and your spouse just aren't getting on. It seems like no matter what you do, you're always stuck and not moving forward. Romance is lacking and your relationship isn't as solid as it once was.
If this describes your marriage, then the first step is to take stock of what they've got going on. How's your husband or wife's work schedule? How fulfilled do they feel day by day, and what kind of leisure time do they have? Consider those elements and then try to figure out how you can more adequately support him or her. Schedule time to talk as a couple and blow off steam without judgement and without bias that way you can keep your fingers on each other's pulse.
The more time you spend doing this, the better able you and your spouse will be to support one another. The relationship will generally improve substantially if this approach is taken.
3) You're having issues at your job. Your boss is a demanding jerk who doesn't really seem to jive with you, and he or she has become more abrasive of late. You feel that they're taking it out on you, but you're not sure, so you're constantly afraid for your career.
If this describes you, the situation is a little bit trickier to address. When we're in the office, we interact with others as professional entities, but the professional attitude a person brings into work rests upon their personal state of being. What they've got going on at home will directly and indirectly effect their interactions with others, so I would invite you to interact with them. Ask about their off-hours hobbies and what they've got going on over the weekend. Connect with them like human beings and assess how satisfied they seem to be with their lives.
Likewise, contemplate the quality of your work and see how it's being received by others. If you're doing a good job and they're still being harsh, I would suggest meeting with the critical third party to determine what responsibilities you can take on to improve workflow and better contribute to the team. Unless that person is directly and intentionally competing against you, they'll likely respond well to the gesture.
With those examples given, you can start to sense a theme. The quality of our interactions with others directly and indirectly influences our feelings about our lives. By exercising mindfulness and purposefully focusing on what we can do to manage our responses to others, we take some of the unhelpful automation out of our lives. Moreover, we get rid of the "easy", troublesome assumptions that would otherwise habitually cause us to act out and cause problems for ourselves. All of that energy which would usually go towards maintaining and navigating the rut you're in can instead go towards more productive aims and further progress can be sought.
Creating progress and momentum is rewarding, and it doesn't take much energy to challenge the harmful automation in our life. The more time and energy we spend doing so, the more we are placed in the drivers seat of our lives. This is a core principle that is at the heart of magic and magical practice, as magick can and should be used to mold and improve our lives.
That can only be done if we're targeting the correct issues, however, so this awareness becomes a life hack and something of a superpower! We become empowered to deconstruct the cause/effect/react loops in our lives, and each entanglement we unknot through the application of our newfound awareness improves. As these situations improve, so do the quality of our lives and our thoughts. We become more fulfilled and less bedraggled, as now we're riding and using the currents in our lives rather than being directed by them.
Think on this. Its powerful stuff. ;)