“Your emotions are slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions.”
I was listening to Radio 2 driving into work a few weeks ago, when Chris Evans started chatting to a guy about his new book, entitled: “Everything You Need You Have – how to be at home in your self”. Well, as soon as I heard the title, I was totally hooked into the conversation, straining against the noise of the traffic to hear every word. Straight into work. Laptop on. Amazon Prime. This little bit of preciousness was in my hands the following day.
Turns out the author, Gerad Kite, is a psychoanalyst with three decades of therapeutic practice. Whilst reflecting on his own learning over this period, he has concluded that what each of us desires, over anything else, is the comfort and safety of the peaceful, pain-free and loving place that exists within each of us. The place where we are truly ourselves. The place where we are at “home”.
And so his book is, effectively, a ten-step roadmap to getting “home”. All the steps are intriguing, but the one that resonated with me most, was the very first step. Here, Kite introduces the concept of “The Pendulum”, a practice that contains the power to shift our attention from the everyday chaos of our thoughts and actions, back to that place of contentment and peace. To help us exercise emotional control. To transcend back to “home”.
However, the reality for many of us is that our complicated domestic and working lives have us living at the extremes of the pendulum, chaotically swinging from right to left… left to right. Rapidly and frantically.
As if we have no choice.
But we do. We can choose to live in the victimised state at the weighted-end of the pendulum, where we allow internal and external influences to rock us emotionally from side to side, in a habitual pattern. Or we can choose the calm of equilibrium, of “home”.
However, even when in equilibrium, it is the weighted-end of the shaft that is most vulnerable to the forces that can move it. So, ideally, we want to not only get away from the dramatic swings at the base, but to climb the pendulum shaft, moving upwards to the pivot, towards absolute stillness.
So how can we learn to live at “home” rather than choose the emotional chaos of our everyday lives?
It takes just two easy steps…
Develop “awareness”. Create the habit of regularly checking up on where you are on the pendulum throughout the day. Ask yourself, “Where am I now?” Be objective. Pinpoint where you are on the swing. Is it somewhere you seem to land consistently? If so, what sends you there? What stops you from settling in the middle? Developing this daily practice of hitting pause & checking-in, will enable you to retreat from the madness of thoughts & feelings & gain perspective. Get “True Rest”. “True Rest” is that recuperative place where our attention is switched away from busy chaotic thoughts towards and into a state of calm. This state is personal to each of us, as is the process of getting there. But we all recognise the benefits we gain from being in it. You might already know what helps you settle down inside, or you may need to go out and find it. (For me, it is walking the dogs; swimming; cooking; and reading). Once you find what it is for you and purposefully introduce “True Rest” with discipline and rigor into your day, you will notice that you are able to live further up the shaft of the pendulum, where the swing gets less and less.
Practicising these 2 easy steps will enable you to gain emotional control. To exercise choice.
To choose to be at “home”.