I find it interesting that some people would, at the outset, define themselves as skeptics before seeking out life help. My guess is that these people would prefer to eliminate references to spiritualism, i.e. something related to God and / or that cannot be proven using a materialist point of view, in any life help they might receive. (Materialism essentially states that which cannot be verified through the senses is not genuine).
These folks may call themselves pragmatists, which is perfectly fine, but there’s also an element of rejection built into their skeptical self description. They are in fact closing the door on certain methods from the start. There’s some negativity within this outlook, and this negative mindset may be part of any problem they’re trying to address with self help.
Something to potentially consider…
Having said that it’s quite easy to address the topic of life help without becoming “spiritual” but life help cannot be addressed at all without looking at thinking. It is thinking that is the cause of emotional dysfunction. This must be so because emotion is a response to thought.
Most people believe their emotions are the result of some external event. In other words something or other happens in the world and emotions are a response to this external activity. This is a reasonable outlook but it’s wrong, and this inaccuracy keeps people stuck in suffering.
External events in and of themselves never cause an emotional response; mental labeling of external events — this is good or this is bad — do cause an emotional response. So if you have an emotional response to an event within the world it is because you have mentally labeled this event in some way or another.
You don’t need to take my word for this insight; you can judge the accuracy of it for yourself very easily. How? Monitor your thinking and your emotions.
Anyone has the potential to watch their thinking and their emotions in this way, though very few people actually do because most of us are immersed in our mental activity. If however you want to break the chain of suffering, so to speak, then you must become one of the few and actually stand back from your mental stream and observe it rather than unconsciously falling into it.
If you do this you will come to understand the absolute connection between your thinking and your emotions. You will also, simply by virtue of watching your mental stream, create a gap in this mental stream where peace can come in.
Did you know that your life circumstances do not determine your peace, your contentment, your happiness with life? This is not to say that certain life circumstances may be more comfortable than others — it’s safe to say that this is generally true — but your personal peace and contentment are the result of your thinking.
This will be an unbelievable insight for some, if not many, to accept. We’ve made life out to be an exceptionally trying process that moves our emotions in one way or another, depending on how life itself moves. But it’s not life that triggers our emotions, it’s us.
We really are self contained. Nothing can emotionally harm us aside from our own thinking.
Start observing your thinking, now, and see the truth of this for yourself. You came into this world cocooned against emotional harm and discontent; no one and no thing can emotionally disturb you except for you.
It’s quite a reality to consider and may, perhaps, lead to consideration of what intelligence would create us so protected from harm in this big and bad world. But that’s another issue for another post…
Let’s stick to thinking here.
If your thinking should change, from negative and self destructive mental patterns to patterns that are nurturing or, at the very least, are not destructive, then your emotional well-being will improve. The first thing to do, as I’ve said previously, is to start observing your thinking and to observe it impartially. If you observe your thinking analytically or judgmentally you are no longer observing thinking but have become immersed in it.
If you simply observe your thinking, neutrally, you will notice a significant change in your emotional state. Beyond this observing you can consciously change thinking patterns, substituting positive thinking patterns for patterns that are negative and hurtful.