As any negative emotion surfaces, you can replace it with something new. I call this rebuilding your emotional body. We all have a mental image of what a desirable physical body is like — trim, healthy, youthful, fresh, pleasing to look at. But we don’t use those qualities with regard to our emotions, our “emotional body.” The emotional body, like the physical body, must be properly nourished. It can grow tired and flabby when the same responses to the world are repeated over and over. It becomes diseased when exposed to toxins and unhealthy influences.
Every time you feel a negative emotion, your emotional body is expressing discomfort
, soreness, fatigue or pain. Pay attention to these symptoms just as you would to physical pain and discomfort. If you had a rock in your shoe, you wouldn’t hesitate to remove it. Yet how long have you endured emotional rocks in your shoe? In many ways, our priorities should be reversed. Think of the time and money spent to avoid aging. We expend enormous effort and care to make sure that our bodies can be healthy and functional into advanced old age
. Yet ironically, it’s the emotional body that is immune to aging. There is no reason for emotions ever to grow old, because the source of freshness and renewal is always at hand. Your emotional body should remain energetic, alert, flexible and pleasing to experience. I think a single phrase, “the lightness of being,” covers all of these qualities.
Children naturally feel lightness in their being. They play and laugh; they forget traumas and bounce back quickly. Whatever they feel quickly comes to the surface. This carefree period may not last long. Observing a young child closely, you can see the beginning of tendencies that will lead to future suffering, as the shadow teaches its tactics of projection, blame, guilt and all the rest. That’s why rebuilding the emotional body is the best long-term strategy for everyone — your future depends on undoing your past. The key is to have a vision. Then you can implement your vision every day. Without a vision, even the best advice becomes haphazard and piecemeal.
A vision for rebuilding the emotional body includes at least some of the following points:
- Becoming more whole
- Learning to be resilient
- Dispelling the demons of the past
- Healing old wounds
- Expecting the best and highest for yourself
- Adopting realistic ideals
- Giving of yourself
- Being generous, especially with your spirit
- Seeing through your fears
- Learning self-acceptance
- Communicating with God or your higher self
The most important single thing in rebuilding your emotional body is becoming more whole. Emotions can’t be reshaped in isolation
. They merge and blend with thoughts, actions, aspirations, wishes, and relationships. Every feeling you have invisibly moves outward into your environment, affecting the people around you and ultimately society and the world at large. Having worked with thousands of people over the years, I’ve come to see that without wholeness, all we can create is superficial change. Therefore, let’s see if we can approach your life as one reality, a process that encompasses every thought and action you have ever had or will have.
This may sound rather overwhelming, but to escape the fog of illusion, the only way out is reality. In truth there is only one reality. You have no way of separating yourself from it. Nor would you wish to once you see the enormous advantage of living in wholeness. Your separate self, which has such a huge personal stake in the world, isn’t who you really are. In fact, it may be a total illusion, which is what the Buddha said. The self you defend every day as your unique point of view is a convenient fiction that makes the ego feel good. What the ego doesn’t realize, however, is that it would feel even better if it gave up its narrow, selfish stake in the world. When that happens, the true self can emerge. Then and only then is wholeness possible.
An excerpt from The Shadow Effect: Illuminating the Hidden Power of Your True Self. Copyright © 2010 by Deepak Chopra and Rita Chopra Family Trust, Debbie Ford, and Marianne Williamson. Reprinted by permission of HarperOne.