Faith and Action

Emmet Fox (1886-1956) became one of the most popular and famous New Thought speakers of the 1930s and ’40s. Fox’s teachings were ones of humans often learning more from making mistakes rather than from any successful situations, where ‘any subsequent suffering is simply the consequence of the error, that weighs heavily upon the conscious mind’ (Heindel, 1920) i.e. these thoughts aren’t tangible and suffering is purely a manifestation within the individuals’ own head (Chesnut, 2011). Fox’s key message from this is ‘it isn’t the external circumstances which destroy the individual, but the way they think about their actions’ (Chesnut, 2011). Bill W. and Dr Bob (the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous [AA]) refused to absolutise this viewpoint.

AA refused to say that all problems and errors can be entirely removed by simply thinking positive thoughts, as things can and do go wrong, even when the individual is leading a religious, archetypal or a spiritual life (Chesnut, 2011). Instead, AA puts forward the notion that spirituality is simply the means of accepting these situations that are put before us, whilst also facing and dealing with one’s own problems by learning to put everything into its/their true perspective and responding, not reacting, to them in a positive healthy way. Action is, therefore, required to not only recognise and address our particular isms, but also be aware of what triggers them (e.g. a chain reaction which is caused within us) in the first instance. We then learn to both manage our triggers internally and conduct ourselves externally in a healthy, rather than an unhealthy way.


“What is it that triggers our (unpredictable and volatile) emotions?” (see Chapter 2, Section 2.7, Moods and Feelings). “Is it denial that triggers us?” Which results in making us (ever so) defensive and angry!? Certainly, sometimes, the truth hurts! “Could it be frustration that triggers us?” When things are not going quickly enough for us, or the way we would like them to do and go? Other emotional triggers could be an angry look, the wrong tone of voice. Somebody doing something against our own judgement, values and morals, or simply not liking the words and/or the way which they said them? Perhaps, it is something what they believe in and we, certainly, do not concur. Maybe it’s because others can’t be persuaded to ‘see’ things our way because, just like ours, their particular beliefs and values are as deeply anchored within them, as they are within us. Perhaps, it is what team they support. What political beliefs they have—did they vote in, or did they vote out? How do they specifically behave and act which is not the same as our own. They don’t do what we want them to do, when we want them to do it! More dangerously, they aren’t who we want them to be. Basically, they are not living up (or down for that matter) to our expectations. More precisely we allow these characteristics and traits of others to suitably ‘wind us up’ and internally affect us. These are your emotions acting—without the benefit of intellect. This then triggers an attitude and behaviour within us, an unreasonable emotional reaction to an external stimulus. As individuals we can either (more than likely) immediately react (not respond) defensively, nastily and/or violently to the stimuli, or choose to be more mindful (where ‘mindful’, within this particular spiritual text, is not associated to and so not to be confused in a way with being more ‘mindfulness’)10 and do nothing and ignore the provocation. We can also choose to override the negative instinct, acknowledge it and positively respond (not react) to the stimuli. In spirituality we learn the importance of suitably responding to stimuli within the moment, not unsuitably reacting to it in the heat of the moment. Most individuals, especially those that are pent up with frustration and rage or even lack self-esteem, if they didn’t catch themselves, they would certainly end up reacting and ‘exploding’ into a confrontational stance and unhealthy situation. Responding is still saying your piece, but this piece is controlled and cooled. It might even be the same words which you would use when you are angry, but it is more the tone of how you say them rather than what you say. Either way, it’s considered ‘best’ when you are getting angry to count to ten and if you are getting really angry, count to 100!

Nothing goes smoothly, either in life or in business. Things inevitably happen and failures undoubtedly occur, which upsets and disrupts both us as individuals and our—the organisation’s internal systems and external circumstances in which we/they operate in. Nobody and nothing is immune from this, even spiritual people. The difference is, spiritual individuals recognise this and at best, if the failure is out of their control or not of their doing, they feel the natural feelings associated with this situation, but regard and accept the failure as a temporary defeat so not to be dwelt upon, or obsessed over. At worst (because after all, even spiritual people are only human), they feel the associated feelings and allow those things, situations and failures to upset them. But what really upsets them is that they have allowed these things to upset them and then they get upset that they are upset, so it’s then back to the drawing board to work out why they are so upset at being upset!

In this self-directed learning of when things have gone wrong, the spiritual individual takes the initiative and if relevant, takes their responsibility for what has occurred. From this they then select, manage and assess their own contribution to the, somewhat, heated situation, together with their own learning requirement and activity, which will increase their tolerance and behaviour for these types of situations happening again in the future. To arrive at this tolerance amounts to discovering what it is that pushes your particular buttons as, after all, there are always going to be certain people and certain situations at certain times which we will get triggered by and yet, we don’t understand why we get triggered by them in the first place. Not understanding why we get this transference, and by understanding why we counter-transfer back becomes part of the spiritual individual’s work-in-progress. To truly find out what occurs, the individual has to do their own particular soul searching which, incidentally, is different than the previous searching, fearless and moral inventory (Anonymous, 1978 [see Chapter 2, Section 2.22 Personal Inventory]). Where compiling our personal inventory is, pretty much, a one-off event, this triggering determination is a continuous exercise, where the easiest place to start is “What bothers me in particular?” “What bothers me the most?” “What and who, really ‘pushes my buttons’?”

Spirituality helps us being around other people, as it allows us to specifically see how we respond to different situations and which triggers we still need to recognise and work on. This is all about being able to trust yourself, and as you start to trust your self (see Chapter 2, Section 2.14 Why Find the Spiritual ‘If ...) and understand why you are reacting to a certain situation, you don’t actually need to rise to the bait. You realise that you don’t need to be ‘dragged’ into unpleasant and toxic situations and relationships. Overall, when people are being, or appearing to be obstructive, awkward or just plain horrible, the spiritual individual is more understanding, resistant and tolerant towards this trigger. This doesn’t mean to say that the spiritual individual has to spiritually ‘love’ a provocateur or put up with them, turn the other cheek (especially if, for example, somebody is damaging your property where a polite “Excuse me, could you please stop doing that” would not suffice and so have the desired affect in actually stopping them!) or say nothing (i.e. we keep it zipped), or express agreement with them even if we don’t agree. This is a categorically unrealistic, untrue and undesirable misnomer commonly associated with spirituality. Also, on this point, in terms of being physically threatened, any individual is entitled to do what it takes to proportionally defend themselves, including the spiritual ones. During any, unfortunate, encounter, we certainly do not lead with our chin.11 However, an individual (especially a spiritual one), in any context, should also be busy trying to sort out what they have done wrong (if anything at all) and determine what’s out of balance and start to put right what has gone wrong in themselves and not simply blame everything on the other person.

LAURENCE w; “If I just turn round and think of that person as ‘You are just an arse hole!’ then that’s not going to do anything constructive to help the situation and this will not reflect well on myself at all and there will certainly be conflict between us. Instead, I’ll be using that opportunity to evaluate what’s happening in me. I will be using, first and foremost, the odium [general or widespread hatred or disgust, incurred by someone as a result of their actions] to determine ‘What is happening in me?’ . . . ‘What’s been triggered in me?’ . . . ‘Why am I struggling with this person now?’.. . ‘What is actually happening?’ . . . and when I start to deal with all of this, then the chances of there being a conflict can either be avoided or be significantly reduced.”

Normally, by taking this approach, the individual can then, quickly, move to a resolution through finding a ‘good’ place between them and the other person, by agreeing to disagree and/or make appropriate apolo- gies/make amends if they are, indeed, in the wrong. By recognising the only part that they can deal with is what their own part in the confrontation was, they then mentally ‘hand over’ (thereby avoiding the verbal blame game) the relevant shortfall/part to the other person for them to (which they may or may not) recognise, learn and/or deal with their particular ism, in their own way. This usually means the other (nonspiritual person) feels aggrieved, (more often than not), whether they are right or wrong, and ends up holding a never-ending grudge or resentment against the other, where some sort of revenge is always on their mind and on their lips. Sound familiar!? In effect, the spiritual individual learns from the situation and then ‘lets it go’, with no fallout on their part and so without any associated and ongoing feelings of guilt, resentment or revenge. In this way, our recovery and even the health of others is assured when we place our principles above our personalities, rather than our personalities above our principles.

Many arguments over who is right and wrong ensue but can be avoided, by focusing solely upon principles rather than personalities, as this helps us to reconnect with both ourselves and the other person after we have had a ‘big’ or difficult discussion, or (unavoidable) argument. Continuing on this particular thread, we also tend to discount a perfectly valid message just because we simply don’t like, or get on with, the messenger. “How many careers have been permanently threatened because of a personality clash with one of the managers, even though the person (usually a subordinate) has been right in what they are saying and is adequately skilled to do the required task or function?” Focusing upon only the message and not judging its content by the personality of its deliverer, we grow in patience, understanding and tolerance of others.

Spirituality positively affects one’s own confidence in dealing with people, by feeling that they are saying and doing something helpful, as opposed to making the situation worse. We don’t have to understand what others are saying, or like somebody, or everybody, in terms of what they say and do; this is their prerogative, but we can still offer them respect and common courtesy regardless of whether we agree with them or not. This is where spirituality proves to be really helpful, in that it can put us back, as individuals, on an even keel and even if we do get triggered in some way (after all we are only human and are not perfect), we can come back to our default and calibrated settings pretty quickly.

Whilst acknowledging, accepting and coming to terms with ourselves and learning how to let go of our isms and past, together with recognising our particular triggering ‘push buttons’, along with putting principles above personalities, many spiritual people transform themselves from being ‘hot headed and rebellious’ to individuals who acquire tolerance, patience and understanding. By treating and speaking to other people in the way they want to be treated and spoken to not only enables and manages healthy, connected and interconnected relationships, but spirituality also questions, “Why not just get rid of your ‘push buttons’, completely!?”

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