Better Life Discovery

    Personal Development & Self-Determination

    Many of the problems that we face on a daily basis result from poor communication skills and techniques. It is very easy to misinterpret what someone says and pursue a course of action only to discover later that you made a mistake.

    Who is to blame? Is it the sender or the receiver of the message? Should the sender have checked that the receiver understood? Should the receiver have checked to make sure his interpretation was correct?

    Sometimes time prevents double checking. Yet it is certain that if time was taken for this kind of double-checking, many difficulties would be prevented. Good communicators find time to double-check.

    Good communicators make people understand what they think, feel, believe, want, are doing, have done, or intend to do. When one person is confident that he understands what another person wants, then he can act accordingly.

    If he has any doubts, then his actions will be tentative and uncertain. This does not produce confidence or assurance. Moreover, when misunderstanding occurs and actions based on wrong assumptions are completed, much time is wasted repairing the damage. As well, trust and dependability are damaged.

    On the other hand, when good communication occurs, and each one knows exactly the desires and feelings of the other, all activities and assignments can be carried out with confidence and assurance. Peace of mind and fulfillment result.

    Conflicts, arguments, violence, misunderstanding, wars, and breakdowns in agreements and relationships are usually caused by dishonesty and deceit. These actions are in turn caused by jealousy, greed, pride, anger, hatred, and prejudice.

    People who want to rise above their neighbors in some way always resort to methods that encroach on the freedom of their fellowman. This will produce lack of communication rather than poor communication. The results are the same. Unhappiness for both the doer and the receiver, the offender and the victim.

    Can good communication skills prevent those who have ambitions to take advantage of their fellow man from doing so? This is doubtful. Only a change in character can stop a person who carries anger, hate, greed, jealousy pride, and prejudice in his heart from acting badly.

    But good communication can assist people who want to act kindly, generously, and compassionately to do the best they can in every situation. Communication can help find the best solution to any problem. Acting autonomously won’t.

    People who have difficulty interacting with others usually have problems communicating their attitudes, thoughts, ideas, beliefs, feelings, and needs to them, or understanding all these things.

    Good communication skills overcome these difficulties. However, the problem is not necessarily with the communication skills themselves. It is just as likely to be in the area of self-esteem. They can’t express their thoughts, attitudes, etc because their ego limits what they can reveal about themselves.

    Also, people won’t reveal much about what they think and how they feel to other people because they don’t want them to know. When asked, they give a non-committal answer or change the subject. This breaks the line of communication and little progress towards understanding, support, or co-operation is made.

    Good communication creates efficiency. The more precise and accurate communications are, whether they be in relationships, families, or elsewhere, the easier it is to understand them. Interaction and follow-up action is then quicker and more efficient. Everyone benefits because they know exactly what to do or where they stand.

    Good communicators can enlist support for themselves and others with a minimum amount of effort. They can obtain co-operation for their ideas and projects quicker and easier than others around them. This makes life easier and more productive and enjoyable.

    In general terms, not being able to communicate well causes a lot of frustration, stress, depression, and disappointment. This occurs because you can’t get across to people what you want or prefer and you can’t make them understand exactly how you feel.

    Consequently, you are treated differently from how you want to be treated, or you are put off or ignored because no-one can understand exactly what you want.

    But the person who communicates well avoids most of these frustrations and so they are much closer to a better life that they want.

    What Can We Do to Become Better Communicators?

    1. The first thing to do is to work on your self-esteem and the other noble human qualities. a better life personal development Course will certainly show you how to do this and also speed up the process.

    2. When you listen, always give the speaker 100% of your attention. Then try to understand what they are trying to say rather than what they are saying.

    3. Be honest and open in all your communications. This avoids having to cover up lies or confess to deceit. Limit the times you say what you think the other person wants to hear. Say what you regard is the truth.

    4. People will believe what you say with your expression, gestures, and body language before they will believe what you say. Make your words reflect your non-verbal communication, not the other way around.

    5. When it is important for understanding, check that you understand what someone says to you, and that they understand what you say to them.

    6. Separate your feelings for a person from your feelings about their actions. “It is not you I don’t like, it is what you did.” You can always then tell the person that if they repeat poor behaviour, then you have the right to change how you feel about them.

    7. Always make a person understand that you are helping him solve his problems rather than trying to get him to do something you want. This will backfire on you, however, if you are not sincere.

    8. Don’t terminate communications without either settling differences or making an appointment to settle them. On the other hand, do not try to settle conflict when the protagonists are upset and angry. Wait until everyone is calm and objective and can state their points of view without becoming emotional.

    9. When you are wrong, admit it and accept the consequences.

    10. Avoid contact with those who seek to upset you for their own personal satisfaction. These people do not have the right to make you listen to them. Walk away.

    11. Be ready to compromise when it is necessary, but don’t compromise what you believe is right.

    This is how attention controls our lives. Whatever our attention is on, that’s our attitude, how we feel, and what we are thinking. If we are worried, it is only because we are worrying. If we think about something completely different, if we turn our attention to something else, we are no longer worried. If we are grieving for someone who passed away, we can put our attention on the love and pleasure they gave us. The grief leaves as happy memories fill our consciousness.

    If we are angry, it is because we can’t stop ourselves from being angry or we want to enjoy the power and satisfaction of this anger. If we don’t want to be angry, we must be able to switch our attention off anger and onto positive emotion or a different attitude to the person or circumstance.

    Misery is also a state of mind. It only exists because we put our attention on the situation or circumstances that are making us miserable. We can easily be cheerful by adopting a cheerful attitude.

    Whatever negative thoughts, attitudes, emotions, desires, or fears are ruining your life are succeeding because you put your attention on them. They cannot affect your life adversely if you keep your attention off them.

    Of course, all problems must be solved. All situations causing grief, loneliness, sorrow, and suffering must be worked through. But by disciplining yourself to sit down and work out a plan of action to help you get through adverse situations, you can switch your attention to positive action and take it off negative thoughts and emotions.

    This is taking control of your life simply by the control of your attention. Happiness, peace of mind, enthusiasm, success, and cheerfulness are also states of mind. They are created by putting your attention on them instead of on the opposite negative attitudes. Why not choose feeling good rather than feeling dreadful?

    Misery, grief, sorrow, inaction, and despondency can become habits. They can become the norm. They induce lethargy, laziness, indolence, and apathy. They are the easy way out. All of a sudden, you look at your life and it has become wasteful, unproductive, lonely, and depressing.

    How has this happened? By falling into the trap of allowing the negative power to run thoughts, emotions, desires, and images through your mind that convince you that it is easier to accept negative attitudes, indolence, and apathy, to allow things to slide, to allow unfavorable situations to get worse by not taking positive action soon enough to rectify them.

    You have lost control of your attention. You have allowed your attention to be attracted and seduced by the desire for comfort and leisure. The longer you allow this to continue, the harder it is to change your attitude and put your life back on track.

    The good things in life don’t come through seeking comfort, enjoyment, and pleasurable activities. They come through using your abilities and talents to create a better life for others which will result in a better life for you as well.

    This principle of switching your attention to something else is an old trick. We have all done it. Mostly unconsciously. When we get sick of doing a long monotonous or boring job, we go and do something else. We have a drink or a cup of tea. If a conversation is boring, we excuse ourselves. But maybe we haven’t thought of using this technique to change our basic attitudes, our negative thinking and feeling habits.

    It is our overall negative attitudes that make our lives less happy and fulfilling. By getting into the habit of taking our attention off them, we can take greater control of our lives and bring more happiness, fulfillment, and peace of mind into them.

    Before summing up, I want to remind you of another technique you can use to help you get your attention off problems that are distressing for you. It is gratitude.

    If you are finding it difficult to shift your attention off your problem, get a pad and biro and list all the things that you are grateful for. Don’t throw this list away. Put it somewhere easy to find when you need it. As you add something to the list, feel grateful with as much of your whole being as you can. You will be surprised at the effect it has on your state of mind.

    In the beginning, finding things to be grateful for may be difficult because your attention is on the problem. At the least, racking your brain to find something to be thankful for will help to take your mind off your problem. It may be best to think of things you like doing. These should come easily. Or the person you love most and what they do.

    Another hint is to start this list when you are feeling good. Don’t wait till you have a problem and then try to start. This makes it difficult and you may discard the idea before you have any success with it.

    Write down some categories you can think about when making the list, like holidays, childhood memories, things you are good at, or something you did do for someone that made you feel good.

    So here we have one of the keys to a better life – attention. It is such a simple thing. But it can have a profound effect on our lives.

    This is true of all spiritual and Personal Growth techniques and principles. They are simple. Sometimes they are so simple that they are easily forgotten or overlooked. Sometimes they are so simple that people won’t believe they work.

    But sometimes they are hard to put into practice because our minds put up resistance to them. The mind likes the way things work. It doesn’t like changes being made. So it puts up all sorts of barriers and objections to any improvements we want to make in our thinking, emotions, and behavior. Persistence and perseverance however, will eventually teach the mind to accept new ways as habits.

    These simple techniques can have a profound effect on our lives. They are dismissed by psychiatrists and other behavioral scientists because people think complicated and costly procedures will work better. They don’t, for three reasons.

    They are too complicated to follow. They are too difficult to put into practice in everyday situations. They may even need someone else to assist with implementing them. They need too much rehearsal before they can be put into operation. Therefore, by the time they may start to work, which is doubtful, the person is already fed up with them.

    They do not produce instant results. People nowadays expect things to work immediately so they get instant relief from their problems. Behaviors take weeks and months and years to change, not minutes or hours. We can’t have instant happiness like instant coffee. People won’t persevere if they can’t see results after a few attempts.

    They are easy to give up because of their complicated nature. Anything that is difficult to learn can be self-defeating for the reasons cited above. No-one has the patience anymore to learn procedures simply to change behaviors that are not life-threatening. If they are going to die, they will learn what will keep them alive.

    But they will put up with unhappiness forever rather than follow complicated and costly procedures that are of doubtful usefulness.

    Consciousness, awareness, and attention are important for anyone who desires a better life. They are certainly worthy of study because a grasp of the concepts involved is necessary to understand how important our inner lives are to our happiness, freedom, fulfillment, and peace of mind.

    It may seem strange that the subject of communication would come up in personal development. But communication with other people is one of the most frequent and necessary things that we do. Our happiness, peace of mind, well-being, and fulfillment are affected do a great degree by our ability to communicate.

    The better we can communicate with other people, the more enjoyable our life will be. We will have greater success in helping people understand what we want. We will be able to express skillfully our feelings for them.

    By communicating well in every area of our lives, we run into fewer problems and difficulties in our relationships with other people in everything we do.

    Poor communication, on the other hand, can bring constant hardship, difficulty, and frustration, making an individual’s life stressful, miserable, and embarrassing.

    Since personal development is all about achieving a better life, it is in everyone’s best interests to achieve the highest level of skill possible in the art of communication.

    There are two essential attributes for good communication skills: self-confidence and self-esteem. Self-confidence is necessary for public speaking. Self-esteem is essential for communicating to people on a daily basis.

    Behind these two attributes, however, are the noble human attributes. Our attitude to people is the factor that determines how well we communicate. If we have a great respect for other people, no matter what circumstances we find them in, then our ability to communicate with them successfully will also be high.

    Public speaking doesn’t require a high level of self-esteem, at least when viewed from the perspective of personal development. You only have to look at the characters of people who regularly speak in public to realize this.

    They may believe their level of self-esteem is high, but their behaviour away from the public eye contradicts this assertion. Their self-confidence may be high, and they may mistake this for self-esteem.

    Also, their estimation of their own importance may also be high, and this they also mistake for self-esteem. It seems that many people judge their importance by how many people know them. Thus the belief by people in the public eye that they are important. And, as a consequence, they believe they have high self-esteem.

    Public speakers may or may not be good communicators. Just because you are addressing groups of people all the time using one type of media or another, doesn’t necessarily make your communication skills above average.

    They may be good in this particular field of communication but poor in others. Self-confidence doesn’t necessarily make you good at communicating what you think or what you feel.

    The main concern with individuals interested in a better life is how they communicate on a daily basis to the people who they live, work, play, and socialize with.

    The two main areas of communication are transmitting information and receiving information. We transmit information through voice, writing, actions, gestures, and body language. Of most interest is speaking because this is how we communicate our thoughts, needs, desires, and feelings most of the time.

    We receive information with our senses, mainly hearing and seeing, although touch, smell, and taste are also important. Of these, listening is the most important and of most interest because this is how we interact with people most of the time.

    One of the major obstacles to effective communication is our tendency to not reveal too much about ourselves and how we really feel. The listener has to try to guess what the truth is by how we express ourselves and our body language.

    This is why self-esteem is so important in communication. The higher a person’s self-esteem, the less concerned he is about what people think of him. He doesn’t need to hide anything from others because he is comfortable about who and what he is.

    The rest of us with lower self-esteem filter the truth through our beliefs, doubts, guilts, desires, hang-ups, and self-consciousness. With so many concerns about what the listener is going to think about us, what we say is almost the opposite of what we mean.

    The other major obstacle to communication is our listening skills. We listen with our minds instead of with our hearts. Our minds hear words and translate them into images which we think the other person is trying to get across.

    Unfortunately, their understanding of words and phrases may be completely different from ours. Even the simplest words ‘yes’ and ‘no’ have different meanings in different situations to different people. How, then, are we going to interpret more complicated ideas correctly?

    A lot of the time, we listen half-heartedly. We hear half of what is said and fill in the blanks with what we think the person is going to say. We have decided what they are saying before they have finished speaking. This further complicates communication.

    Then we must consider the other person’s propensity to cover up the real message so that it doesn’t reveal what they really desire, think, or feel. If we listen with out minds, we have no chance of understanding what they mean.

    We have to listen with our hearts. We have to try to listen to the real message they want to give us. We listen to the meaning and the feelings expressed rather than the words being said.

    Emotions are negative. They were created to teach us detachment. Without detachment we cannot advance very far spiritually. Detachment is giving up our wants, desires, and preferences. It is going about our daily duties, responsibilities, and chores without becoming emotionally involved in the consequences or results; without becoming upset when things don’t turn out as expected.

    Detachment also involves something much more difficult. It is not being overcome with grief when we lose someone or something dear to us. It is not becoming too enthusiastic or ecstatic in the very good times. This type of detachment is possible when we realize the continuance of life after death and the overall purpose of life while on earth.

    Every time a person becomes angry, they set up negative consequences for themselves. This is the danger in anger and the other emotions. It is pushing us further away from our goal of an Almost Perfect Life.

    Effects Of Anger. Every time we become angry, we radiate negative vibrations which upset other people. This is against the universal laws. We are invading the space of other people, not physically, but emotionally and mentally. We set up a negative debt much the same as in a bank statement. At some stage this debt must be repaid so that the balance is either zero or on the positive side.

    This means that before we can progress in our quest for an Almost Perfect Life, we must go through some negative experience ourselves that will cancel this debt out.

    However, acts of kindness, love, gratitude, humility, sacrifice, and service can also repay this debt. These acts move us along spiritually. But if we have debts to pay first, then these must be cancelled out before we achieve any growth spiritually for our good deeds.

    It is very simple, really, but people just don’t seem to be able to grasp the importance of an exemplary life. They believe that they deserve freedom, success, wealth, health, and luxury without lifting a finger. They believe they can disregard the Laws of God and still be happy, carefree, wealthy, and indolent.

    The reality is that all these things, and more, can be had. But the price must be paid. The price is acquiring the noble qualities I have already mentioned in previous newsletters. Some of these are self-control, self-discipline, gratitude, humility, and love and service to your fellow-man.

    Automatic Reactions To Stimuli

    The second part of self-control is control over our automatic reactions to stimuli.

    Automatic reactions occur in situations where your safety, well-being, peace of mind, comfort, self-image, health, attitudes, beliefs, and position in society may be threatened.

    These automatic reactions are stored in the subconscious mind. I am not going to go into the process that triggers them off except that fear is the main cause of any automatic reaction.

    How do you control these automatic reactions? Not all of them are necessarily bad or inconvenient. We need the protection of ducking, for example, when something comes quickly towards our face. We start ducking almost before we see the object.

    One fear is fear of snakes. This fear has come into our present life from past lives where it has been caused by unfortunate encounters with them. Many people have this fear because they were murdered, or witnessed others being murdered by snakebite. Rarely were they killed by the snakes themselves without human involvement.

    This fear of snakes is an irrational one. The incidence of death from a snakebite is really very rare. Snakes in the wild will avoid people wherever possible. Occasionally, however, they are surprised by someone and may choose to attack rather than retreat.

    This has happened to me on a couple of occasions but I have scared the snake off with noise and movement. However, I grew up in an environment where the only good snake was a dead one and they had to be killed or driven off as quickly as possible. The fear was deep in me.

    It was a long process of self-education about the truth about snakes and spending a lot of time roaming around the bush on my own that convinced me that this fear was unwarranted. Respect, yes. Caution, yes. Fear, no.

    Automatic reactions that are no longer desirable can thus be changed with knowledge and practising a more appropriate reaction. It doesn’t come all at once. It is a long process of self-education. Even now, if a snake is too close when I first see it, I will jump back out of its line of fire.

    Can this same process be applied to emotions? Definitely.

    Knowledge. Getting the truth about emotions is the first step. The facts must be accepted. They must become a part of our consciousness. The truth must replace faulty beliefs held in the past. Once the truth is accepted, the learning process can begin.

    We have to teach our subconscious mind that its normal emotional reaction to situations is inappropriate and there is a better form of behavior.

    The subconscious mind is primitive. It does not respond to logic or intellectual reasoning. You can harangue and lecture it till doomsday and it will completely ignore you.

    It is like riding a bike or learning to drive a car. You must teach your body to do the actions automatically by repeating them over and over again. Let’s look at an example.

    A simple example is someone poking faces at you. As children, this was a favorite pastime because it invariably caused an instant angry reaction. You could taunt someone else and make them feel pretty angry by poking faces at them. Especially if they didn’t like you in the first place. There was nothing more satisfying than poking faces at your enemies when they were powerless to get back at you in any way.

    Of course, children find self-control really hard. If we had faces poked at us, it was a killing offense. You had to get back at the other person somehow. You just could not let it go unpunished. So you did everything in your power to find some way to hurt the offender.

    As we grow up, our angry reactions to poking faces cools into mild annoyance or complete indifference. This is because our attitude to it has changed. We see it as a childish act produced by an immature mind. We have accepted the reality and taught our subconscious mind not to react whenever someone has poked a face at us.

    The Effects Of Negative Emotions. Another huge step in the control of anger, and all other emotions, is the realization of its effect on oneself compared to its effect on the people it is directed towards.

    It is certainly true that anger effects the person it is directed towards. If the person is right there, they feel the emotion like a blast of heat or wind. When they are not in sight of the angry person, they pick up the invisible negative vibrations the person is emitting. All the anger in the world affects all the people in the world to a greater or lesser degree depending on their susceptibility to its vibration level.

    But these effects are minuscule compared to the effects it is having on the individual feeling the anger. Every angry episode (or negative feeling) produces vibrations at a much higher level in the angry person than it does in the receiver of the anger.

    These vibrations affect the vibratory pattern of every cell in the person’s body as well as interfering with the passage of messages from one body system to another. Eventually, the build-up of damage causes life-threatening disorders, mental problems, or emotional problems.

    Another reality we must look at is that if we want an Almost Perfect Life, losing our self-control to anger is going to continually frustrate our attempts to achieve it. Happiness, love, fulfillment, contentment, and peace of mind cannot exist in the consciousness that is under the influence of anger.

    With the realization of the whole situation regarding anger and other negative emotions, it is easy to make the decision to try to control them. Self-control becomes a goal. The task then is to set the goal in concrete and formulate plans to achieve it.

    Ability to Cope. The ability to cope in any situation is a quality that we would all like to have. It is self-control in action. As we move along in our progress towards total self-control, we find it easier to keep a cool head when our thoughts, emotions, and senses are being bombarded with a torrent of impressions.

    Everyone feels that they are in over their heads at different times. At other times, we feel that things are out of control and we have lost the plot. We can’t think clearly or find solutions to our problems or answers to our questions. We can’t make a decision because we are overwhelmed by too much going on around us or because of over-involvement emotionally or mentally.

    These circumstances create confusion, irritation, anger, and anxiety, and we say we can’t cope. The thing we want most is for everything to go away so that we can find some peace and quiet and forget about everything. Then we would be able to relax and not have to worry about anything.

    Self-control gives us this freedom from agitation, aggravation, tension, stress, and uncertainty. How?
    One of the first pre-requisites of coping is to be able to remain calm. This, of course, is self-control. When we stay calm, we have a better chance of doing what is most appropriate and beneficial. We don’t want to feel useless, or a burden on anyone, or overwhelmed by circumstances so that we are paralyzed into inaction. This isn’t self-control.

    Fears, self-doubt, and lack of self-confidence cause our inability to act appropriately in crises. Self-control, self-confidence, and self-assurance are what we need to cope in all situations.

    Anyone who is interested in better life discovery for himself must become familiar with Consciousness, Awareness, and Attention and use the knowledge associated with them for their self-improvement and personal development

    Awareness and consciousness mean practically the same thing when used in one sense. That is, they refer to what you know, see, feel, hear, taste, touch, recognize, and otherwise experience at any moment wherever you are. Whatever is around you that you experience, you are aware of and conscious of.

    Your thoughts, emotions, memories, and mental images are also part of your awareness or consciousness. Whatever your attention is on at any time is part of your awareness or consciousness.

    There are other meanings for consciousness. The obvious one is if you are aware of your environment at all. You can be conscious or unconscious of it at any one time. Unconsciousness is like being asleep or in a coma.

    The other meaning of consciousness is the most important one for those who are interested in personal development. It is more difficult to understand, but we grow into an understanding of it as we become more aware of the whole of life and who and what we are ourselves.

    Our spiritual development can be summed up as how far we are along the road to God Consciousness. This is everyone’s final objective in life, whether they believe it or not. This is the highest point of our development as a human being. It is the face-to-face meeting with God.

    This meeting takes place in a dimension so far above the physical universe that it cannot be understood by the mind. One must just accept that many dimensions of existence, each one more refined, beautiful, and full of wonder than the one before it, exist above the universe we live in.

    Of course these planes of existence can’t be seen or experienced using out physical senses. We must use our imagination and the techniques taught by spiritual masters to raise ourselves into the consciousness required to see them.

    At each new level, we become aware of a greater truth than is possible in the level preceding it. We also move closer to the God Consciousness state. Our respect for life in all its forms deepens and we treat all forms of life with greater and greater appreciation and consideration.

    Consciousness, then, is our level of awareness of the existence of these invisible planes and what existence is like there. God Consciousness comes when we ascend to the God Plane and come face to face with the Supreme Being.

    To some people, the above explanation may seem like fantasy, science fiction, or heresy. The only way a person can prove whether it is truth or fiction is by actual experience. It is not wise to dismiss the existence of life on other planets or in other dimensions simply because you haven’t yet seen or experienced it.

    Each individual is responsible for increasing his awareness of life, love, truth, freedom, wisdom, and God. As this awareness increases, our acceptance of the existence of beings, places, and things grows until we come to realize that whatever can be imagined must also exist.

    Imagination is really seeing with the inner eyes. The eyes, the brain, and the mind are only instruments of communication. They cannot create images. They only communicate them. Therefore, if something is seen, it exists somewhere within the bounds of creation.

    Hallucination, fantasy, vision, dream, mirage, myth, illusion, and other so-called unrealities are distortions or reflections of reality. They are not creations of the mind or imagination. Acceptance of this truth and the truth of other forms of life and other dimensions of existence reveals a growing awareness and a step forward in our personal development.

    The same can be said for recognition of states of consciousness. Major levels of consciousness on earth are minerals, plants, animals, and human beings. Within these levels are many sub-levels of consciousness. All the different types of plants and species of animals, for example. There may be millions of levels of consciousness in human beings. The different levels of intelligence, physical abilities, levels of honesty, levels of love, and occupations are a few categories where many levels of consciousness can be identified.

    Each individual enters and vacates different states of consciousness during the day depending on the role he is playing at any moment, his attitude, his emotions, and his desires. By studying this idea, it can be seen how awareness and consciousness are both similar and different.

    Consciousness becomes important when we know that the higher states of consciousness take us closer to our final goal of God-Realization. Our aim should be to raise our consciousness to as high a level as possible every moment of the day. As we practise this, we will attain even higher levels than we have ever reached before.

    When this happens, our awareness opens to greater levels of truth and our actions, thoughts, emotions, and speech become more refined, more noble, and closer to the attributes of the God-Realized being. We are getting closer to the meaning and purpose of life, and the Almost Perfect Life.

    This is where attention enters our awareness and consciousness. You may describe attention as a concentration of our awareness and consciousness on a single place, idea, emotion, desire, plan, person, task, sound, touch, or perfume, or a combination of these.

    Attention can be on something inside us: a thought, image, dream, vision, etc. It can be on something on our person like clothes, a sore, pain, or our hair. Or it can be on anything outside us, the wind and rain, the view, the thunder, our jobs, other people, and so on.

    Control of our lives is control of attention. Our lives are controlled by what our attention is on. Let’s look at an example.

    Bill is diagnosed with terminal cancer and the prognosis is death in two weeks. By a strange coincidence, George, his friend, is given the same death sentence on the same day. Bill is so afraid that he can’t do anything. He is physically sick with fear and cannot do even the simplest tasks because he can’t think about anything else. He knows he should straighten out his affairs for his family, but this is impossible.

    George comes to see him a few days later. George is cheerful and tells Bill he feels good. He has given the news to family and friends and things are well in hand for arrangements for his funeral and how the family will cope without him.

    Bill is amazed. How can he be so happy and calm? What is his secret? George tells Bill, “I nearly lost control of my mind in the first few hours. Then I thought, ‘What am I doing? I only have two weeks to live and here I am spending it feeling sorry for myself and paralyzing myself with fear and grief. My family can’t function because they are too worried about me. This is no way to spend the rest of my life.’

    “So I got a grip on myself. I took my attention off my own problems and onto what I can do to make it easier for my family and friends. I forced myself to sit down and write down everything I could think of that needed to be arranged so everything would be as easy as possible for them.”

    “I knew the first thing would be to stop any behaviour that causes them to disrupt their lives. I decided that I am going to die and there’s nothing I can do about it, so I may as well just accept it and enjoy the rest of the time I have. I will make sure I won’t put any attention on dying.”

    “So I determined to be cheerful and make everyone else cheerful as well. Then I listed what needed to be done so that everything would go as smoothly as possible for everyone. Then I got to work and started making all the arrangements.”

    “By taking my attention off my death sentence and putting it on how much I love my wife and kids, and doing everything I can to make them happy, I have been able to make it easy for them. But the most important thing is, I have made it easy for myself as well. I am not going to think about death until I am actually dying, if I can?”

    Bill wondered if he had the self-control and self-discipline to copy George’s strategy.

    Before looking at self-control, we need to distinguish between it and self-discipline so that we don’t confuse the two when we are discussing them with regard to personal development.

    Self-discipline is control over your conscious decisions to do or not to do, speak or not to speak, what you are thinking, and what you are imagining at any time. Self-discipline refers to the mind as it gives commands to the body.

    Self-control refers to the emotions and the actions and reactions which we have learned during this and past lives which automatically occur when the appropriate stimulus is provided.

    Where self-discipline has to do with conscious decisions about behavior, self-control deals mainly with the emotions and the things which we do automatically to protect our bodies and our egos whenever they come under some form of attack.

    Self-control is not about not feeling emotions, desires, and fears, or not being involved whole-heartedly in everything happening around you. It is about being in control of yourself no matter what emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations you are going through.

    It is learning to be unaffected by them in such a way that you can maintain balance, composure, and the ability to think clearly during any dangerous or emotionally charged experience.

    Self-control is also having control over your reactions and interactions even though you may have no control over the situation itself.

    Self-control Is Not Control. A serious problem for many people is that they believe they must be in control of situations in which they are involved. This is a bad mistake. It causes a lot of anger, frustration, disappointment, and resentment. It could be the chief cause of stress in those who suffer from it.

    Self-control doesn’t mean that you have to control everything that happens in your life. This isn’t what it’s about at all. Self-control is about having all your emotions, thoughts, and reactions to what is going on around you under control. It is not about controlling the situation or the other people involved in it.

    We have a tendency to decide how each situation we are in should unfold. We have an agenda. We have an expectation of how things will turn out.

    The difference between the stressful person and the relaxed person is the amount of control he wants over any situation and the degree of flexibility he has regarding both the execution and the outcome.

    As a situation develops, it either moves towards an individual’s desirable outcome, or away from it. If he likes to be in control, and the situation is not to his liking, he will become more and more stressed. Negative emotions will start to build up.

    On the other hand, the relaxed individual knows that any situation may produce a number of different results. He may decide what is the best outcome for him personally, but he is willing to accept any outcome, and work with it. By not wanting one specific outcome, he doesn’t become upset when things progress away from the preferred result.

    Although he may do what he can to produce the best result possible from his point of view, he remains open to other possibilities. In the end, he is still relaxed.

    The individual who wants to be in control can only relax if his preferred result is obtained. Otherwise, he is uptight during the whole proceedings and stressed out when the result is bad.

    People who suffer from stress are most probably control freaks. Things must go how they expect them to go or they worry and get upset.

    To avoid stress and all the mental, emotional, and health problems associated with it, these people must learn that things are going to turn out a certain way whether they desire it or not.

    Becoming upset and angry will not change the result. They must learn to accept whatever happens, forget what they wanted to happen, and go with what they have. Make the best of what the reality is now.

    The sooner a person learns that he doesn’t have to put his two cents worth in every time something goes wrong, the sooner he will learn that he doesn’t have to be in control.

    Emotions. If we want self-control, we must look at two areas of human behaviour: emotions and automatic reactions to stimuli. Emotions destroy self-control because they take over the consciousness, keeping the attention on the emotion. When we are under the control of an emotion, logical thinking and objective decision-making become very difficult.

    The greatest destructive emotion is anger. It causes strife in every level of human activity. It is one of the major reasons for wars, feuds, murders, and violence. It destroys nations, relationships, and health.

    I will concentrate on anger in this newsletter because discussing all the emotions would fill a whole book. As it is, a newsletter cannot possibly cover the whole subject of self-control, only the main points.

    There is a huge lie being told to all people around the globe. This lie has been accepted as truth by almost everyone in the religious, psychiatric, psychology, medical, education, and government fields. The lie is: expressing emotions is natural and necessary for normal human development.

    This is not true. Experiencing emotions may be normal, natural, and necessary. Expressing them may be considered normal and natural, but it is not necessary.

    We have emotions. This is a fact. Where they come from is a mystery to science, psychiatry, and medicine. But the source of emotions has been known to the spiritual community since the beginning of time.

    The Source of Emotions. Emotion is produced in a person’s Astral body and when it flows into the physical body, it is expressed through speech, action, feeling, and changes in the body’s sensations and reactions.

    Until mainstream science, psychiatry, and medicine accept the truth about emotions, they will continue to scour the brain for them, and never understand how they originate.

    When we accept that emotions originate from the Astral body, we have a much better chance of controlling them, and therefore, achieving self-control.

    Anger. To understand anger better, you need to look it up in a thesaurus, and then look up each entry underneath this heading. This gives you an idea of the range of feelings associated with anger and the huge amount of time people spend being angry.

    Although some people learn how to turn anger on and off, or to pretend to be angry while not actually being angry, most people have no control over their anger. When they get angry, it takes over and runs their life until its energy runs out and they gain control of themselves again.

    Some people in the lower levels of consciousness lose control completely and “lose their temper”. Most use bad language, threats, and offer stinging opinions about the character of the individual their anger is directed at. A few resort to violence.

    These actions are semi-automatic. Little or no thought is put into what is said or done. The anger may pervade the whole consciousness of the person so there is no room for thought or any other inner activity.

    Many people use anger as a weapon to hurt and gain control over someone else. These people usually lack assertiveness in their relations with others. Their self-esteem is low and they lack the communication skills and strength of character to make their presence felt in the company of others.

    When they find that their opinion or desires aren’t being heeded, they become angry and use this anger to make others listen to them. This makes them unpopular so their outbursts are still not given favorable consideration anyway.