Are You Arguing With Reality?
Dear brilliant reader, are you arguing with reality?
What do I mean by arguing with reality?
I first heard about this when I listened to an interview with Chris Attwood by Raymond Aaron, which left a deep impression on me. Since then I have listened to that interview many times and what I share here is a distillation of what I learned, my understanding at this particular point in time.
Expansion and Contraction
At any moment, you could be moving toward expansion or contraction. How to tell which one you are in? Pretty simple, by noticing how you feel! When you feel angry, irritable, grumpy, frustrated, worried, anxious, upset, sad, mad, blaming, unfortunate, that’s a clear sign that you are in a contraction.
“Contraction” – Photo by neogabox
But when you feel loving, generous, thoughtful, open, excited, turned on, thrilled, relief, happiness, uplifted, lightness, in the light, you are in an expansion.
“Expansion” – Photo by ajawin
We all go through waves of contraction and expansion throughout the day, every single day. There will be moments when you notice that you’re a little irritated at what someone said, annoyed that a co-worker keep interrupting what you are doing, or upset when something doesn’t go as well as you have planned. Contractions are those times when you feel emotionally upset – it could be a minor or major upset – triggered by things, people, events and circumstances.
When we feel that contractions should not happen, when we feel that things need to be different than the way they are, that is when we argue with reality.
The feelings associated with contraction do not feel good, so we do everything we can to not feel it. But this means we are resisting what is… and as John Gray said, “What you resist, persists”.
In short, we argue with reality:
- when we feel that things need to be different than the way they are
- when we feel some emotional upset, feel disturbed in some way, and we try to avoid it.
So what do we do to reduce, even eliminate, our tendency to argue with reality? Here’s one way.
The Expansion Process
Chris Attwood, who authored “From Sad To Glad” together with his business partner and ex-wife Janet (who authored the brilliant book “The Passion Test“), formulated a 7 steps of the expansion process:
1. Notice when you are contracted.
The expansion process is a process of being conscious, so the first step is to notice when we are contracted, by always be aware of our feelings as we go through our daily experiences. Notice when you feel a bit irritable, grumpy, or a little upset. Most of us are not aware of these contractions unless it is a big one.
The expansion process is really about creating the habit of noticing any time we are contracted, because there is no reason that we have to stay longer in that state longer than absolutely necessary.
2. Breath deeply.
What do you notice when you breath? Breathing expands the chest! As you know, the physical affects the emotional, which affects the mental, which affects the spiritual. A change in any of those affects all of them. Consciously breathing more deeply when we feel an emotional upset creates physical expansion and it begins the process of expansion.
3. Ask to be open for expansiveness to come back.
Simply ask to be open to expand again.
4. Feel the emotion.
Allow yourself to feel the emotion that’s coming up. Perhaps take a moment by yourself, close your eyes, feel what emotion is in the body right at this time. The opposite of this is resisting the emotion. Personally I still often fall to the trap of noticing a contraction and immediately say “This too shall pass”, or “What is the lesson in this?”, without allowing myself feeling the emotion until it’s past or mostly past. This is actually a subtle way of resisting, which results in me still feeling like crap!
What you resist persists. ~John Gray
5. Feel the sensation in the body.
Anytime you feel some strong emotion, provided you are conscious and aware, there will be some sensation in the body. Tightness on your stomach, on the neck area, feels like your heart sank? Wherever it may be, allow your attention to go there. The principle is the same as when you stub your toe – do you have to make an effort to put your attention on your toe? The answer is No, isn’t it? The attention naturally goes to your toe, that’s how nature is setup…
Our attention is a mechanism for healing what is needed to be healed within us.
I once asked my acupuncturist about the significance of sticking the needles in an area of our body. She said, by sticking the needles in the correct spot in the body that needs healing makes our body send more energy to that area. This is the same principle in action!
Coming back to feeling the sensation in the body, notice when it is gone or mostly gone. That’s when you can proceed to step 6.
6. Use the tools.
A tool is anything which you know will help you to expand again. It might be different for each person. For me it could be sitting on the piano and play some tune, play the guitar, close my eyes and smile to my heart, or read an inspirational blog post, among others. For you it might be taking a bubble bath, listening to your favorite music, dancing, going to the gym, asana yoga, etc. Whatever makes you feel more relaxed, calmer, and move towards expansion, that’s your tool! Your tools can be physical (like going to the gym, dancing, asana yoga, pilates), emotional (like listening to music, lighting aromatherapy candle), mental (focusing on your goal / vision, repeating Ho’oponopono cleaning phrases, self-enquiry process like The Work of Byron Katie, Sedona Method, etc), or spiritual (meditation, prayer, reading spiritual books, singing devotional hymn, etc). You can do any of those and they’ll create an effect on all of them.
Meditation – one of Spiritual tools – Photo by oddsock
7. Communicate clearly.
We’re now in a position to think more rationally, to think from a place of clarity, about what is the best solution to this challenge we may be dealing with, and then to communicate that in a kind, yet clear, way to the person we speak with (or to ourselves). Here is where we can focus on “What is the lesson in this?”. At the end of step 6, we’re in a place where we release, let go, of the emotion. So here in step 7 we are ready to truly understand what it is about the situation we can learn from, or grow form.
There is a quote I absolutely love:
When we argue with reality, we lose and only 100% of the time. ~Byron Katie
To what degree are you still arguing with reality? Go through the 7 steps again and see if Chris Attwood’s expansion process works for you! It certainly has helped me a lot, although I have to admit it’s not yet automatic to go through the process whenever I feel contracted… it takes time for a new habit to form and at first it takes a lot of will power too.
As a closing remark I’d love to share one of my one-take impromptu music titled “A Sketch of Reality”… enjoy!
Much Love and Gratitude,