Begin the AscentSession 2 - Alignment - Emotions, Thoughts and Actions
This session continues gathering the basics for this life-long journey from here-and-now to a place of exalted personal power. In the previous session on the Importance of Core Values we compared values to the food and water that will sustain us on our travels.
Audio of this Session
The “Swiss Army Knife” of personal power comes next. We’ll be comparing this all-purpose knife to the three important Dynamic Energies of alignment – Emotions, Thoughts and Actions.
Listed to the right here is a 3-page spread sheet listing examples of each energy, divided into the 5 Modes of Mastery. (You may want to refer to this handout as you read the rest of this session.)
The focus here is on keeping our energies in alignment.
Alignment? Surely you don’t mean it’s time to take my car in to have the wheels checked.
Well, no. Nor does it mean making sure your jacket is buttoned straight, or your books are lined up properly on the shelf, or that you alphabetize your spices.
No, when talking about personal alignment, we mean the internal alignment of us with our personal power. Specifically, what we feel, what we think, and what we do: Emotions, Thoughts and Actions. When these three Dynamic Energies are all pointed in the same direction, they make the power we possess within us more accessible.
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Let me share Eleanor’s story to illustrate how these energies work together – or don’t.
Eleanor has a cute little dog named Rusty, and the two of them walk around her neighborhood every day. Rusty does his daily business, and they visit with any friends they meet, both human and canine. On their way home from one of these walks, they passed a car parked next door, and suddenly a visiting dog jumped out of the car window and charged at Rusty. With her heart pounding in alarm (emotion), Eleanor scooped Rusty into her arms (action). Someone ran out of the neighbor’s house and grabbed the attacking dog by the collar, but the damage had been done. Both Eleanor and Rust felt assaulted, and for the next hour Eleanor replayed the incident in her mind (thought).
In addition to alarm, Eleanor experienced the emotions of panic, anxiety, distress, fear, anger and concern.
Her thoughts matched her emotions perfectly: Did that beast get its teeth into Rusty? How could anyone leave such a vicious animal unattended? Should I call animal control? Do I need to take Rusty to the vet?
And her responding actions followed a logical pattern. After swooping Rusty out of harm’s way, she soothed him the best she could, she examined him for possible injury, she gave him a treat, and she called the vet.
So far, Eleanor’s emotions, thoughts, and actions are all aligned with one of her core values: to serve and protect her beloved pet.
But what if another scenario were to develop? What if once her panic faded and she’d reassured herself there had been no lasting harm, fury became her dominant emotion? What if she wanted to make sure nothing like that ever happened again. If she owned a gun, she would use it, right then and there. Barring that option, should she insist the attacking dog be impounded? Maybe she could complain to her HOA and demand they institute new rules governing visitors and their pets.
Her thoughts would still be in harmony with her emotions. Since her actions would remain in question, she might begin to question the consequences. If she took the incident to the HOA, it could involve the entire neighborhood. Since she recognized neither the car nor the dog, it was possible they might never visit again.
She could then explore her values. What did she want most? Retaliation? Retribution? Peace in the development? Staying on good terms with her next-door neighbor? The answer would depend on whether she wanted drama and conflict, or peace and partnership.
If she desired drama, she could stay irate. She could enlist the support of friends and divide the community.
If she wanted peace, she could calm herself with gentleness and tolerant thoughts. She could enlist her next-door neighbor’s help, should his visitor come again. Were there ways to keep the unfriendly dog restrained?
Whatever Eleanor chooses, if she aligns her emotions, her thoughts and her actions, the alliance of the three energies will create the ultimate result.
But what if they are not aligned? What if she acts in a cooperative manner, but her emotions remain anxious and in her thoughts she continues to blame everyone else involved?
Or what if she thinks her way into agreeable actions, but her emotions remain hostile?
Here’s one of the deep truths about alignment. In instances of misalignment, emotions always trumps the others. Results always follow emotions because emotions are the most influential of the three energies. Also, the energy produced by any and every emotion can be felt by others.
In this story, Rusty is going to respond to the emotions Eleanor subconsciously conveys to him.
Emotional energy is not something that can be measured (except perhaps by a fMRI), but it always has an impact on whatever we want to achieve.
Which brings us back around to knowing (and choosing) what we want.
In Eleanor’s story, she hadn’t specifically identified what she wanted before the attack on Rusty. Only after she’d experienced her reactions to it, and worked her way through all the emotions, and considered her array of options, did she realize she wanted peace more than conflict. She valued peace within herself and peace in her community.
Some desires are like that. We don’t realize something is important until we’re faced with a choice. In other cases, we know from having moved repeatedly in a particular direction that our core values and intentions have pointed us in a definite direction.
When my children were grown and the youngest had moved away, I experienced a period of emptiness. My marriage had recently fallen apart, and it was the first time in my life I was alone. I struggled with the loneliness for a while, weeping occasionally, and resigned myself to the situation. Then I started digging deeper, asking myself what I had been aiming for as a parent. Not until then had I given it any conscious thought, but looking back at the choices I made while they were growing up, I saw that all along I had wanted them to be competent adults, with good skills for dealing with the world and the ability to create their own futures. Realizing I had, subconsciously, achieved what I set out to do helped me realize my three personal energies had been fully aligned with the result.
Every single outcome in our lives is influenced in some way by the alignment or the misalignment of our emotions, our thoughts, and our actions. Every one. And of the three, our emotions have the strongest voice.
It’s easy enough to test this hypothesis – just pay attention to what goes on in your own life. I have included a worksheet (Observation Log) with this session to help you become the observer of these three important energies, and to recognize your results.
Fillable Worksheet – Observation Log
Now, if you’d like to start getting different results, if you’d like to start creating intentional outcomes, if you’d like to be living on purpose rather than by accident, here’s a little 4-step mindfulness exercise you can adopt any time, and in almost any place.
1. Stop whatever you’re doing at the moment. Stop walking, stop talking. Just hold still.
2. Pay attention to your breathing. Inhale deeply. Notice whether your intake of air stays shallow or goes deep. Now exhale as slowly as you can. Repeat two or three times.
3. Unlock the tension in your neck by slowly swiveling your head, looking first over one shoulder, then over the other.
4. Straighten your posture and open your hands as wide as you can, stretching out your fingers.
That’s all. Simply give your attention to your breathing and your body, and for that brief moment give up what’s going on emotionally and mentally. Choosing to create a different reality can begin with any of these three energies – whichever feels most natural or accessible at the moment. You can choose different emotions, you can think a different thought, or you can act in a different way. This energetic triad lies at the heart of all of our Lessons for The Path of Mastery.
When it comes to creating the results we want, emotions are stronger than both thoughts and actions.
As we conclude this session on Alignment, it’s important to recognize an important aspect of the three Dynamic Energies. They either work together and produce positive results, or they get in each other’s way and produce conflict. Our third session in the series, Cause and Effect, will explore this concept in depth.
Look at the world with wonder and at yourself with warmth.
Previous Session – The Importance of Core Values
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Session 3 – Cause and Effect