“Quietly go to work on your own self awareness.

If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself.

If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world,

then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself.

Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of

your own self-transformation.”

                                                                     -Lao Tzu

When faced with an irksome situation our instinctive response is often to walk away and abandon such exchanges or persons. The discomfort that often ensues from a situation that evokes a negative emotional reaction out of us often belies the fact that there is more going on beneath the surface. In most cases, that may very well have nothing to do with the person whom we are confronted with. This is because we get blind sided by our own emotional blocks, and when people mirror back to us those areas that have gone suppressed, something within rises in self defense.

Emotional reactions that conceal emotional blocks are the outcome of our experiences and patterns. Patterns that were adopted in the environment we grew up in. Psychologists say that our personalities are the confluence of what we learnt in our homes until the age of seven. In addition, negative self talk also creates certain beliefs of self esteem and self worth that may get triggered in unexpected ways. Emotional blocks therefore create hinderances to our personal growth as they remain latent until triggered into a reaction.  One cannot possibly go through life avoiding situations and people, therefore it serves us well is to look a little closely and examine the reasons why we felt the need to react? What inner block played out via the negative reaction we had? The programs we subconsciously picked up as children are often outdated methods of dealing with new situations. We drag that old lens we saw our parents or guardians use even though it is not relevant to our present life. This is what creates an unconscious way of being and reacting.

What would help is to get a little inquisitive and inquire within. To observe the reactions within oneself before one brings them forth, to cognize what merits this reaction that is slowly creeping up inside.  Life is always presenting us with a new situation, even if it feels familiar, yet a moment is never repeated in time. Every thing is new and has a freshness all it’s own. What makes us feel like it is ‘more of the same,’ is our limited lens on it, or our insistence on putting things into predetermined boxes that help us comprehend the various situations in life swiftly and at times, inaccurately.

Therefore to keenly observe one’s own response before one utters it, taking a moment to inquire within, as to why one is feeling triggered? Does this moment bring forth a memory of something similar that sparked a reaction in you before? It is worthwhile to take that moment for yourself and investigate into what does this feeling symbolize for you? Did the exchange make you feel incapacitated, unworthy, did it affect your self esteem in any way, or did it remind you of a time when you had to defend yourself? Because those were events of the past and though we have many dossiers in our mind about how we should judge a situation quickly to make our life easy, they don’t help us grow, expand and evolve in this human experiment.

And perhaps that’s the best way to observe oneself; as an experiment. After all, isn’t all of life new in every moment for the limited duration that we are here for?

There is much praise in the world for ‘slowing down,’ and the sages have always professed being conscious and awake as we journey through our life, so that we encounter less disturbance and more harmony within and without. A wise way of doing that is to truly slow down in our reactions, in our conclusions and take time to discover and unpack why something triggers a habitual response that we picked up perhaps, as a defense mechanism in the past?

Peeling back the layers, unpacking the blocks intentionally and patiently will reward us with nurturing relationships. When we slow down and take the time to look closely upon the uncomfortable memory that was tugged at, we can stop living in the present while using a lens from the past, and instead use a fresh and unbiased perspective on what we are faced with and see it with new eyes as we parse through the layers to get to the emotional charge beneath the block.

Like all things of value, this takes time and repetition.“Staying awake,” or staying conscious, slowing down therefore and observing would take us farther in our relationships and in our evolution as social animals.

So, tend to yourself as you would to a garden. Gently and with patience. Take the time to observe before responding. Know that everything that happens outside is a reflection of how we are feeling inside. Counterintuitive as it sounds, the only way to dissolve emotional blocks is to move into them slowly, instead of moving away from them.