If we take our life to be our emotional reactions, of the second level and pattern of reaction after the direct experience, we end up stuck in a cycle of fear, a no-win situation. Rather than staying in first person and the first level of reaction, we allow ourselves to become emotional, and identify with a secondary feeling reaction and the ensuing negative thoughts.
By way of example, let’s say you make a mistake. To stay in first-person would be to accept the mistake, look at correcting or leaving it, and let life flow on. “Ok I’ve made a mistake, let’s look at it objectively, not get emotional and negative about it, simply look at it and say “okay, what can we do next time? Where can we go from here?” You keep it simple, first person. You are a little bit wiser, things are a little more simple. You’ve got more freedom ahead, more confidence. You made a mistake and learned from it.
But, if we’re negative and get caught in second person, the reaction to reactions, then our thinking and feeling slides downhill. We are now focused on the ego, the ’me’, and not the problem. “You made a mistake, mistake means bad, therefore I am bad. I’m a horrible person, and I have to correct ‘me’ being bad, rather than correct the mistake. The only way I can correct being bad is to not ever make mistakes, never be bad again.”
That’s not possible in life. Life is in part a series of mistakes, or events, occurring over and over. It’s a learning process, a school. We’re trapped in a no-win situation when ‘we’ feel bad and define ourselves by our feeling reactions. We’re trying to correct ‘bad’ by not making a mistake. But we know we’re going to make a mistake, eventually, so we now have an underlying sense of fear and anxiety. We can either retreat from life, so as not to make mistakes, not be bad, or we can live in fear of the next inevitable emotional reaction.
The fear and anxiety is what we end up dealing with. Not the simple first action, or mistake.
We can never get out of the problem because we’re not dealing with it head on, face-to-face. We’re always dealing with the secondary reaction, which is hopeless, it’s self-maintaining once the cycle has begun.
Instead of trying to correct ‘bad’ by being perfect, we drop the emotionality, the ego of secondary reaction. Stay in first-person, and say “I made a mistake, let’s deal with that”.
This is the beginning of courage and patience, giving the possibility of a true form of love.