NO PROBLEM CAN BE SOLVED FROM THE SAME CONSCIOUSNESS THAT CREATED IT–Albert Einstein [from Elizabeth Lesser's Broken Open]
Most of us find ourselves caught in patterns of behavior which can lead to unhappiness, frustration and feeling trapped. Because these patterns have become habits, we fail to recognize them. We fail to realize that without an awareness of this trap, we can never hope to break out of these patterns and heal.
We all have unique ways of dealing with frustration and suffering. Some of us react by becoming aggressive, compulsive, frenetic. This may serve to temporarily relieve the tension our suffering engenders. It may help to some degree because individuals who react this way are often deemed 'successful' in life. They are the great 'multitaskers' who continuously push for what they want. They often 'succeed' in satisfying material desires–money, homes, economic security.
They clearly need to explore the silent underbelly of their suffering in order to find happiness and contentment–but at least financial insecurity is not their problem.
There are others who react to sadness and frustration by the opposite response–they withdraw, become even more passive and less 'productive'. Their vicious cycle is reinforced even further since financial/economic insecurity is usually magnified. This only contributes to their sadness and suffering.
For such individuals there may be an approach that offers at least some relief of their suffering. They need to explore the following equation and reverse it.
Whereas their suffering leads to passivity and more suffering—they need to address the effect, the inactivity first. By addressing the passivity first, they can actually reverse the equation. Their suffering will diminish when they observe their own activity, their ability to 'accomplish' something. They will be able to alter their own self-image which has contributed to their suffering.
A simple but effective analogy involves the feeling of sadness and the act of smiling. Under ordinary circumstances we smile only when we feel good. It seems bogus to try to smile when we don't feel like it. Yet science has demonstrated quite easily that the act of smiling, however forced it may be, actually leads to an emotional transformation–we start to feel happy.
Is this merely a bandage for our inner suffering?–Perhaps. Yet it is surprisingly effective, at least in the short term. It can reveal to ourselves an ability to pro-actively alter our state of mind and reduce the suffering which contributes to our passivity.
Reversing the equation can reverse our suffering by revealing our ability to empower ourselves–truly a healing experience.