I cry easily. When anyone speaks to me with strong disapproval, crying is the immediate habitual response. No matter what is said, however true or untrue or even silly it is, tears well up – and often it is the physical reaction that comes first. Strong emotion and a particular pattern of thought tend to follow the tears.
One way to move with this is through thought – by changing my conditioned response and my patterns of thought. It would not be too difficult to convince myself of the absurdity of my response, to dig into why it started to happen so I might change it, to remind myself to take deep breaths or even just observe my breath at the time of my reaction, and more likely than not, the reaction would die down and in time fade away.
I could go quite far with this sort of modification of thought. I could condition myself to become a much happier person – calmer, less reactive, less impatient –I’d be end up being nicer to people, so people would be nicer to me; it would all get pleasanter and pleasanter!
But I am sure I do not want to do this. There is no desire in me to ‘get over’ this reaction. Sure, it makes things difficult sometimes – I burst out crying in staff meetings and all kinds of possibly embarrassing situations, I cannot always be clear about what I want to say, and self-images are frequently and grotesquely punctured.
There truly is no desire to modify thought because I see how limited that is. I see that the self may get subtler and subtler, but the division still remains. Because there is deep concern with the most fundamental separation, because I want to find out if it can completely come to an end, and because it is clear that to condition myself would only be moving away from this question, it is impossible to do.
I am trying to say a rather subtle thing… I’m not saying I want to continue to be neurotic so that I have enough opportunity to observe the self in action. I‘m not saying I will be what ‘I am’ instead of suppressing my true emotions, or that I will remain stuck and put everyone else through my emotional mess.
Interestingly, just the action of not moving away brings about a sort of flexibility. Sometimes the reaction just dissolves, or the physical reaction happens but I remain completely clear and articulate through it, sometimes it does not even arise. I can address it with people when I see it limiting a relationship. And often I just go through the full-blown reaction. But I will stress that not-moving-away is not another more effective method to get rid of the reaction. It is the only thing I can do.