In the middle of a meeting at the corporate office one day, we received the shocking news of the passing away of a good friend and colleague.
I am going to miss him a lot, because he was my quietest, ever-smiling colleague, who never raised his voice, never lost his temper.
Or did he pass away because he never lost his temper, never raised his voice? Never got angry at anyone? Did he keep things bottled up inside him? Did he suffer in silence?
I guess we will never know the truth.
With a very heavy heart and great despair I wrote on my blog:
“Rest in peace, my friend. I really wish you had fought with me, shouted at me, thrown things at me in anger. But had remained with us. In our organisation, as well as in this world….”
But hold on! This is the traditional attitude of modern psychology.
We cannot achieve peace, balance or self-mastery by shouting and howling in anger. We should not suppress negative feelings. But at the same time, the dogma of modern psychology, that we must express or indulge freely and without restraint all our feelings is also not the right way to self-management. Someone who succumbs to his negative emotions is a slave of his feelings and not its master. Moreover, expressing negative feelings freely creates inner grooves in the psyche with a tendency or the urge to repeat the same feeling, which becomes a habit. After all, you become what you think.
This principle applies not only to feelings but also to desires. Ascetic suppression of desires is harmful but unbridled indulgence in our desires is slavery, which may lead to a rapid exhaustion of our vital energies needed for progress and effective action or execution.
There is a third way, which is beyond harmful suppression and ignorant expression or indulgence. It is the inner detachment of yoga. This method is based on a faculty in our consciousness which has the ability to observe itself and its movements as a witness. In this method, when the negative feelings or desire rise, we neither suppress or express it but first observe and then inwardly detach or disidentify our consciousness from the feeling or impulse and see it as a witness. As we put this discipline persistently and sincerely into practice, we will find that this witness- consciousness does not only observe and understand but also has a power of control for admitting, rejecting or changing our thought and feelings, which means power of mastery.
[Reproduced from the book “Beyond the Uncharted Landscape” with some modification in content and title]