I can’t think of a single thing that can make as profound a difference in your life as being able to dissolve your “occurrings”—the meaning you unconsciously and automatically give events, which you think are The Truth.
Our “occurrings” are
- the source of most of our negative emotions, which means they are the source of most of our suffering;
- they are the vehicle through which our beliefs determine our behavior and feelings;
- they are the source of most disagreements and arguments between people; and
- they are one of the biggest barriers to being able to successfully resolve problems in our life.
There is nothing else you can do—regardless of how much you pay or how much time it takes—that will improve the quality of your life as much. In this post I will explain why and provide some tips on how you can quickly dissolve your occurrings.
Although I’ve written on this topic before, this will be the best overall summary of what occurrings are, where they come from, what determines the content of a given occurring, why occurrings are a problem and how to dissolve occurrings.
What is an occurring?
Here are a few examples:
- Reality: My co-worker is asking me to find some information for him instead of doing it himself.
Occurring: He doesn’t respect my time.
- Reality: It is the last day of my vacation and I get an e-mail from my co-worker asking me to do some work.
Occurring: She is inconsiderate of me.
- Reality: I’m supposed to study with a friend of mine today and he’s not calling me.
Occurring: He doesn’t want to study with me.
- Reality: My friend cancelled on me.
Occurring: He doesn’t value my time or our friendship.
What’s important to get here is that occurrings seem as if they are a part of reality; they seem as real as what is actually happening in the world. That’s what gives them their power: We react to them as if they are The Truth when in fact they are meanings that exist only in our minds.
Where do our occurrings come from?
Occurrings are meanings that we unconsciously and automatically assign to events that have no inherent meaning.
I don’t know for sure, but I suspect they served the evolutionary purpose of giving us immediate “information” about our surroundings to protect our lives. When a second could be the difference between escaping a wild animal or being killed, and when we didn’t have a fully developed frontal cortex that would enable us to think rationally, our occurrings (and the emotions that they give rise to) gave us instantaneous feedback so we could take immediate action.
And to make sure we heeded the occurring, nature made occurrings seem like an aspect of reality, not a separate meaning in our mind.
Today even though we almost always have at least a few seconds to think about the situations we are facing before action is required, our mind continues to provide us with unconsciously-created meaning.
What determines our occurrings?
Why do we give an event one meaning and not another? There are several sources of our occurrings, the main one being our beliefs. Our moods and physical condition are also important factors.
Beliefs are the meaning we give (usually) to a series of events. Beliefs are broad generalizations, for example, I am …. People are …. Life is …. A belief is a statement about reality that we feel is the truth, although it is possible to intellectually disagree with something we believe. Once formed, beliefs continue to exist and affect our behavior, feelings and perceptions forever, unless we are able to eliminate the belief. We view life through the filter of our beliefs.
Our occurrings, on the other hand, are the meaning we give to an event in reality, in other words, how reality occurs to us at a given moment. Each occurring is a distinct meaning that usually lasts only a short time and then fades away by itself when we stop thinking about the event. An example of an occurring is your boss asking you a question and it occurring to you as she doesn’t trust me, she doesn’t like me, or I’m going to get fired. That is the meaning you have given to the boss’s question. In reality all that happened is that she asked you a question. Contrast that occurring—the meaning you gave to that specific event—to beliefs that act as a filter through which we view all events, such as No one trusts me. No one likes me. Nothing I do is good enough. I am inadequate.
Although beliefs are the main source of our occurrings, it is possible to dissolve occurrings without knowing which beliefs caused them. Also, you do not need to eliminate any beliefs before dissolving your occurrings. On the other hand, if you have similar occurrings in similar situations repeatedly (such as new projects always occurring to you as: I can’t do this), then the way to stop the repeated occurrings is to eliminate the beliefs that lead to them.
Why are our occurrings a problem?
There are at least three ways that our occurrings create problems in our lives:
First, because events have no inherent meaning, they cannot cause us to feel anything. So most negative feelings like anxiety, anger, and upset are the result of our occurrings, not meaningless events. Moreover, when we are overcome with frequent negative feelings we experience suffering.
Second, these negative feelings can make it difficult to think clearly about the events underlying the occurring that caused the feelings. When action needs to be taken (see the four examples above where action needs to be taken with the co-worker or friend), being angry at the people involved or afraid of the situation makes it much more difficult to determine the most effective course of action.
Third, it is difficult to resolve situations effectively if we are confusing the actual situations with a meaning that does not really exist in the world. Look at the four examples I gave earlier and notice that it would be more difficult to communicate with the co-worker or friend if you thought the meaning you had given the event was The Truth. When you dissolve the occurring and are focused only on the event itself, it is a lot easier to find an effective resolution to the event.
How to dissolve occurrings
The technique for dissolving occurrings in seconds is quite simple: Make a clear distinction between the actual event in reality and the meaning/occurring that exists only in your mind. When it is fully real to you that the occurring is not the inherent meaning of the event, that it is a separate phenomenon that you made up, it will dissolve. Why? Because an occurring by definition is a meaning that seems like part of reality. As soon as you distinguish it as meaning and not part of reality, it is no longer an occurring.
If there were only one message I could communicate to everyone in the world, it would be what I’ve written this week in this blog post. Unfortunately knowing all I’ve explained here about occurrings will not change anything in your life. Dissolving them one by one as they show up will transform the quality of your life. What are you waiting for?
(To read some of my other posts on this topic where I go into more detail on specific aspects of occurring, type “occurring” into the search box to the right)
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