I've really been putting myself through it this week, and I have no one but myself to blame. I don't want to get into specifics b/c it involves me doing some things I knew I would (mischieviously) enjoy but also knew I shouldn't have done. And through having done so and then sitting back and really looking at the way I feel and the results of my choices, realizing that I can help how I feel.
O sea: My internal emotional reactions are just that: reactions. I can feel them. But as someone who is deliberately (please GOD) advancing in maturity day by day I can also choose not to act on them, and I'm realizing something that I really did not know: I can change how I feel when I want to do so.
This is such a revelation for me.
I grew up with the concept that I could help what I do but not what I feel. Which meant that I gave myself permission to let feelings and not thoughts dictate what I did when I felt very strongly about something.
Problem with that is that ultimately it let me off the hook. I could do something and justify it by my emotions. I'm gradually learning that that excuse is dangerous and not to be used as lightly as I have been.
I'm also figuring out this process of actually changing what I think, my thought patterns and emotion patterns. Not easy, but so rewarding subhan'Allah. First learning not to go up in arms when someone else does something I 1) didn't expect 2) don't like 3)repulsive or emotionally contradictive. I'm dramatic. I like to react. So it was and is haaaaard work LEARNING to NOT react and just sit there for a second with what I feel.
Then feeling what I feel and taking it apart and asking myself, "Why?" So that I can have a reason. I figure if 95% of what people do is emotional, that's cool, but then I need to realize that that is what it is and not come up with a logical reason for it. "I did it cuz I felt like it" has become a completely legitimate response to the question "Why did you do/say/think/feel that?" since it's the TRUTH. When I come up with a 'logical' i.e. unemotionally driven reason for things I do in retrospect, why that's when I start getting into untruth and covering up my feelings. Which leads me to...
Being responsible for me and me only. I'm beginning to realize that a lot of times my reactions, things I say, and the way I keep myself from doing things or push myself to do things are based on predictions of what others will do or say. And that a lot of the time, what I think they'd do or say could be wrong. I'm not Houdini and I can't read minds. So unless I take the time to ask others what they think, I can't base my thinking on another person. On what I've learned of God and faith and education (education being what I've read and learned through life experience as well as schooling within reason), yes, absolutely. But not based on fear of someone's censure or 'adverse' reaction. And not based on my trying to manipulate, however well-intentioned I may be, the reaction of someone else. They gon' do what they gon' do regardless, so I might as well give them truth from jump street. That's what I want when I interact with other people. So I need to quit with the real or pretend falseness and come with it EVERY TiME, not just with certain people or when I feel I won't be judged. My reaction should always be, "Judge This!" And ALlah is the Ultimate Judge. I gots some 'splainin' to do any way I look at it, so at least I can say I have learned this much. And that I truly regret the cost of the learning.
And lastly, admitting that I'm not sweet. No one has used the word sweet to describe me in the last 12 years or so. I'm not sure why gaining that word and image as accolade has meant so much to me recently. Maybe because I identify as a southern belle from my upbringing and reactions, and because a certain side of that image is that of sweetness. Doesn't matter- I'm done. I can be sweet at times but I am not sweet. Not retiring, not deferential. Not blushing and always good and kind and fluffily feminine. I'm just not sweet. I'm bold, I'm assertive, educated, not shy about much and I think that's good. I'm choosing to leave sweet behind in my childhood. I know there are many people out there who are sweet and deserve to be such. And I'm not knocking that. I'm just saying that I know it's not who I am most capable of being right now, and to admit it is like leaving a weight behind on the Path.
For me, the past week (and probably the next portion of my life) is about being much quicker to accept reality and not deception. Masha'Allah I finally got it. Thanks to all those who understood this from git go and have helped me to it. Thanks also to the knocks I had to take to understand it. I'm applying the lessons every single second now.