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Controlling Our Emotions and Feelings

There is an intricate labyrinth of definitions and theories about feelings or emotions, their species, causes and effects. But the only point of interest in a practical manual is to know their influence on mental fatigue, weakness and psychosomatic diseases, and to point out some norms for channeling and governing them.

Merely speculative ideas, experiences or images pass without further ado into the archives of our memory. But there are others which are connected or which we connect with our happiness or its symbols, such as life, health, comfort, honor, ideal, desires, and they produce our feelings and emotions.

An emotion is an emergency state in which the whole organization is prepared for action by the hypothalamus, the autonomous nervous system and the glands.

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Emotional Machinery

The occasion or stimulus of the emotions may come from without through our eyes, ears, etc., for instance, the presence of an enemy, his insulting words, etc. It may come also from within: my heart beating fast, a symptom I never noticed in myself before, or even a vivid memory of great a past danger or of a humiliating failure.

These stimuli reaching the cerebral cortex will be received (if I pay attention) by my reason or by my frantic imagination. If I perceive in them something contrary to my happiness, my cerebral cortex will send to the hypothalamus, down in my middle brain, an alarm or emergency call asking for the tremendous force of the emotions to be released. This alarm call is the real cause of emotions and it operates through a specific thought or mental image. In anger it is an obstacle which we must destroy; in fear, a danger from which we must escape; in sadness, a loss. This thought may be summarized in anger by one of these key words: “I, he, it.” “I who am so good … I cannot tolerate such a treatment.” In fear it may be: “A great danger or harm is imminent to me and it is unavoidable.” In sadness and depression through failure, sickness, old age, or death of a dear person, the stirring thought is: “My loss is immense, total and irreparable.”

Any or several of these or similar thoughts could be responsible for the stimulation of the hypothalamus, which is the control room of the emotional machinery. We do not think nor decide with the hypothalamus. It answers the alarm call only by turning on the switch of the autonomous nervous system and of the glands, and immediately we feel a reaction in the muscles of the digestive tract which may squeeze on the esophagus, stomach or bowels, and through repetition and intensity may cause a “lump in the throat,” cardiospasm, ulcer-like and gall-bladder - like pain or gas.

The tension may go to the walls of the blood vessels, causing pallor or headache when they contract, or blushing when they dilate. If it goes to the skin, all kinds of dermatitis may appear. If it stimulates the lungs it may produce a terrifying hyperventilation and dizziness. And at the same time one's heart would be beating as fast as in a heart attack.

All this reaction is produced by our autonomous nervous system and by sympathin (an adrenalin-like compound found in the sympathetic nervous system).

This may be called the spontaneous phase of emotions in which there is no full liberty or deliberation, and so in them there cannot be a question of moral responsibility or sin.

Voluntary phase of emotions. If this commotion and its stimulus travel further back to the cortex, there to be judged and decided upon, two reactions may occur:

First : Our reasoning mind may judge the stimulus to be unimportant and the commotion to be unnecessary, and upon more mature thought the turmoil will subside and peace will return.

Second: Our excited imagination may demand full attention to its fears, hatred or sadness, and it will expel our thoughts, milking it very difficult to concentrate on study, work or even conversation

In strong and repeated emotions, this second effect may turn into a real obsession with the annoying thought struggling continually to occupy the centre of our consciousness. Scruples are often such a kind of obsession or the impression may become deeply fixed or we may modify, expand, or exaggerate even by one hundred per cent subjective feelings and opinions.

Finally, such emotions may transfer themselves from their real cause to its concomitants. Many experiments have proved this since the days of Pavlov's dog. Pleasure or displeasure fear or embarrassment first owe their origin to some definite cause. Then they are unconsciously transferred to accompanying circumstances.

Sentiments and impulses favorable to the emotion are also aroused spontaneously. When the mental turmoil is augmented by the will, as in the case of deliberate anger, this will cause a new stimulation of the hypothalamus. Additional forces, the glands, now bring their powerful hormones into the battle for happiness. This may happen at the very first stimulation of the hypothalamus, or as a result of the renewed and strengthened alarm-call. In either case the frontal lobe of the pituitary gland is excited, and over twelve different hormones may be secreted. Let us consider only two of them: STH and ACTH.

With the somatotrophic hormone (STH) the whole defense system of the organism is set into action. This regularly happens when invading germs or viruses attack it. But there is also an excess of STH when we have depressive emotions such as fear, worries, scruples, discouragements, frustrations, and indecisions. Such an excess of STH, when it is constant, may produce high blood pressure, fatigue, arthritis or asthma.

Many cases of asthma were due to depressive emotions. And we rapidly feel fatigue when we do our work while in a state of discouragement or disgust.

One half of the diabetic and cardiopathic cases have an emotional interference as their cause or accompaniment. Many cases of arterial hypertension were improved by improving the mind.

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Sometimes our emotions are not depressive, but aggressive ones, such as anger, militant dissatisfaction, speeding relentlessly toward a goal, or aiming at an ideal beyond our powers. Then our pituitary releases an excess of ACTH (adrenocorticotrophic hormone) which activates the adrenal glands. From the medullae of these glands adrenalin then flows abundantly, and from their cortex three other groups of hormones: those which influence both mineral and glucose metabolism plus an androgen-like hormone. These hormones with an action that is slower but deeper and more maintained than that of the nervous system itself arouse the different organs to increased activity. Moreover, the adrenalin continues to stimulate the hypothalamus even further. The result of all this may be:

(1) Ulcers: the “illness of executives” who are driving aggressively toward a difficult goal.

(2) Poor assimilation of food, and diabetes: The amino acids through which we assimilate food for body building, are changed by an excess of ACTH into glucose rather than into protein, and so we do not gain normal weight or strength.

(3) ACTH excess may also be responsible for poor defense against infection, because ACTH counteracts the defensive action of STH.

(4) Note that hypertension may be produced either by the autonomous nervous system, or by an excess of STH or ACTH. Indeed, any negative or strong emotion may lead to hypertension or even to heart attacks. Many persons have suffered a stroke during a fit of anger. Several Roman emperors died of it. The heart-beat rises rapidly during anger to 160 or 220, and the blood pressure jumps from 120 to 230 or more.

If we have negative emotions before going to bed, insomnia will probably follow. To sleep, we need to relax the eyelids, neck, the muscles of our hands and legs, etc. But emotions put a tension in all of them. So if you have a fit of anger before retiring or if you worry about your problems or simply about your insomnia, you will find it difficult to sleep.

The above and many other diseases may be caused by negative, uncontrolled emotions. Modern doctors attribute to them more than half of the present world's ailments. Therefore, we can avoid or diminish half of our troubles, if we control our negative emotions either by avoiding or changing the thought that arouses them or by changing the emotional expression in our eyes, voice, respiration and voluntary muscles.

We Can Control Our Feelings And Emotions

Events related to our happiness rave, by themselves, a great influence on our feelings and emotions. So does our bodily condition. Children, women, the elderly and weak are more impressionable than men of robust health. But it will always be true that our interpretation of these events is what disturbs us. Hence, if we can avoid the idea or change its (1) content, (2) intensity and (3) duration, and avoid exaggeration and transference, we shall avoid those harmful effects.

We can avoid the thought either by avoiding the stimulus or occasion, or by thinking on anything else, for instance, having conscious sensations or concentrating on our hobby, etc.

Know and Modify the Idea Itself

The harmful effects of anxiety are lessened in proportion as the cause which produces it is made more conscious. This is why many emotional conflicts are cured merely by manifesting them and making a minute examination of them. There are people who are afraid when there is no reason for fear. And when there is reason for fear, then their fear is a hundred per cent greater than it should be.

An examination, even by putting them in writing, of the content of your feelings and their causes will help to diminish them. The account of conscience as practiced by spiritual people has the same beneficial effect. And as for a vague fear, merely reducing it to what is precise and concrete frequently conquers or weakens it.

Know and Destroy Transference

Superficial phobias can be reduced to a conditioned reflex or an unconscious association of a certain feeling with a certain idea. The mere discovery that fears have been transferred from one object to another just because they chanced to be associated is usually enough to weaken or annihilate them.

For example, every time that a certain man heard an explosion or the tolling of a bell, an overtone or fear of death or disgrace would make him sad and worried. The reeling of fear had been associated with the sounds. If he were to discover the basic cause of this seemingly groundless association, or could associate with them a memory or feeling of joy (e.g., such as comes with bells in a religious celebration), he would be relieved or cured.

Whenever another man was in a theatre or church he would feel asphyxiated or at least find it hard to breathe. To avoid this he had to sit near a door. A feeling of insecurity had been associated with the idea of being shut in. He felt much better once he was made to see the connection to which he had never before adverted. He remembered that the first feeling of asphyxiation he experienced was when he awoke during a serious illness to find himself closed up in a dark room.

Whenever another victim would go even fifteen blocks from his house he would begin to feel ill and grow pale. His heart beat as if he were about to die from a heart attack. If the distance was a short one, he was quite undisturbed. A feeling of fear had been associated with separation from his own people.

Once this type of artificial connection is known and made concrete it becomes easy to convince the patient (or ourselves) that the resulting phobias are artificial and absurd. Sometimes this alone will make him feel better. In other cases we may manage to rouse a conscious association of an opposite or at least different feeling with the disturbing idea. If we can do this while we are tranquil or far removed from the incitement, we shall find it relatively easy. This consciously induced connection will afterwards be unconsciously reproduced when we are again in contact with the occasion. The former unpleasant association will be destroyed and the phobia cured.

For example, a certain young man who was unable to swallow pills was made to reproduce the situation in which the unpleasant feeling so disturbed him. He imagined vividly that he was putting one in his mouth and then associated the opposite feeling with this imaginary action. That is, he consciously attended to the feeling of not fearing, of serenity, naturalness. With the feeling in his tone of voice he would say, “I have the pill in my mouth … and I am unruffled by it … I can swallow it and … I shall swallow it without difficulty.” While he was repeating this for the second time with a true tone of security in his voice I noticed disappear from his face a certain contraction which fear had produced. I brought him a glass of water. He took the pill and swallowed it easily.

Sometimes you will have to go deeper into this feeling (which the patient recognizes as absurd) and discover the forgotten tendency which made it once seem reasonable. When this had been discovered by psychic exploration (e.g., by tests) and eliminated or shifted to a more worthy object, you will have solved the puzzle.

Diminish the Idea's Intensity

The intensity of an idea depends on three factors.

(1) Its quality - The more concretely an idea is represented, the more immediate force it has. The more spiritual or abstract it is, the less emotional, but more enduring, motive force. That is why orators speak to the imagination to obtain an immediate result, a feeling. But when they want a lasting effect they try to convince the understanding.

(2) Its quantity - The force of an idea is greater in proportion to its closer association with other ideas, experiences or feelings, and to the degree to which they are more striking.

(3) Its duration - A passing emotion, fear or sadness leaves little trace in the organism or mental back ground. But if it remains too long it can modify them to a notable extent. It can attract into its orbit (as we said of the intruder sun) more and more thoughts and acts, and cause lasting disorder.

In several parts of South America there is a custom, a very pious one, if you will, but not very Christian. And it is by no means in accordance with mental hygiene. Women there will remain in mourning for months and months without going out of the house or admitting any distractions. When the period of mourning is over many of them have become nervous cases. Because it persisted, the depressing atmosphere of mourning destroyed their control.

Take the idea then that is bothering you and strip it of its sensible counterpart, its importance and concrete details. Break the links it has with other phenomena of your experience. Do not consciously dwell on it but, as mentioned heretofore, substitute for it a contrary thought and feeling, or at least a different one. In making this substitution search for other ideas which appeal to the senses as much as possible. Symbols will have a strong appeal to your (or the patient's) imagination. Associate these ideas with important living realities. Repeatedly pass them through your mental field of consciousness that, like a snow-ball, they may gather round them as large a number of mental elements as possible.

Exaggerated Impressionability

We may be giving it a false interpretation. A scrupulous person does this when he sees moral responsibility where there is none.

Perhaps we are not accepting the reality which is imposed on us (for instance, a disgrace or some limitation). There will then be restlessness, uneasiness, sadness.

We may be building up an absurd reality for ourselves. An apparently good idea may be really harmful. Or we may be aspiring to what is above our strength. There will be tension because of the disproportion between desires and their possibility of fulfillment. Or there will be a conflict of feelings because our scale of values is upset. We think that a good is being offered but find ourselves with the evil which necessarily comes with it. The hierarchy of values is at stake. It is thrown into confusion by instincts or our lower mental activities. These do not perceive higher realities.

The Root of Exaggerated Impressionability

We must seek for this on the level of our lower mental activities. These do not perceive higher realities and take us away from true reality of things, or We and of our own personality. Exaggerated impressionability is rooted in the following instincts: those of self-preservation, domination and reproduction. There is an innate tendency to preserve our physical, bodily nature by the reaction of flight from danger and bodily death without bothering about what is spiritual and eternal. There is also a tendency to win out over others and increase our own earthly goods or reputation without taking into account whether this impedes other, still greater goods. There is, finally, a tendency to seek pleasure for one part of our being even if it be to the detriment of the whole. This is also an impulse to flee from pain and hardship although these may bring higher goods to us. The right to our inheritance is sold for a mess of pottage. Sexual or alcoholic pleasure is sought even though ruinous to health.

We do not take into account the true reality of man. Man is not only body but spirit also. He is not only earthly and temporal but heavenly and eternal. We do not even take our own personality into account. For we refuse to accept limitations imposed on us by heredity or environment. As a result, the emotional centre of gravity is thrown off balance.

This centre of gravity in man is the sublime goal given him by the Creator. Man is to dispose of himself according to the good pleasure of the Infinite Being so that afterwards he may enjoy Him for all eternity. Whoever realizes the sublime dignity of being able to fulfill at each moment the ideal God sets for us, that is, “to want what He does and do what He wants,” and realizes that this cannot be impeded by sickness or poverty or another's evil or injustice, such a person is less likely to suffer a lasting mental disturbance. The saints understood this sublime goal and lived it and they are, thus, models of self-control. For this reason, too, believers who suffer emotional disturbances will do very well to add to scientific methods the still more effective method of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola – A practical manual which outlines considerations and meditations to lead to the reformation and sanctification of one's personal life. These spiritual exercises, continued through several days, are commonly known as a “retreat”, or “making a retreat”. By meditating on this great truth in his first exercise, called the Principle and Foundation, they will balance their centre of gravity again and will feel their fears and worries disappear in the deepest peace of soul. In comparison with God, the Infinite Being, all men are like a little grain of sand. And how much less am I? But if this atom can bring a smile to the Infinite Being, why be lost in worry about whether other atoms are praising it or not? And why lose time thinking merely about myself, my illnesses, virtues. or defects?

Preventive Remedy

Begin at the root cause first. Fix the hierarchy of values firmly in the understanding by a good moral and religious education. Form a correct appreciation of what is lasting and eternal as superior to what is but temporal and passing. Set the total good of your whole being above the partial good of your body alone. Illuminate and direct your instincts toward their right road and goal. Elevate them by knowledge and faith to heights with which they are themselves unacquainted.

You must strive to appreciate and work toward your total good. You must have a self-love which is not creeping, earthly or material but higher, spiritual and eternal. It must be a love of the life and glory which will not end, a love of suffering dignified by the ideal of bearing it as God's will, a disinterested love of others. If you have supernatural Faith and Charity, love your neighbor because in him you see your Creator disguised in his defects. Thus you can love and serve God with greater merit.

You can attain this by meditation on higher goods and practice of the virtues. The more you strengthen your higher mental activities by the understanding of higher values and by positive decisions for good, the more you will be immune from the disorders of lower instincts. In the case of the saints this dominion of reason and right morals reaches its culmination. Disgrace, humiliation and temporal dangers caused them no worries whatsoever.

Secondly, in your conduct avoid any ideas or surroundings, sights or acts which favor distorted tendencies. Block unlawful satisfaction of instinct for this engraves and stamps false values into your very being.

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Direct Cures for Exaggerated Feelings

1. Discover the origin of the evil through the laws of association, tests, study of dreams, and the like. Look for exaggeration or transfer of feeling, the mental fact which is the root of a worry. Then take it apart and destroy it by means of conviction, suggestion and re-education. Strengthen yourself by implanting the opposite feeling deep in the subconscious. Sometimes it will be enough to recall when and in what circumstances you first felt similar symptoms.

2. Discover the forgotten and now subconscious reasoning process. Every irrational feeling will seem a logical conclusion of a more or less subconscious reasoning process which is invalid or exaggerated, and is now in part forgotten. To annihilate or straighten out sentimental abnormality it is enough to make these steps which are now erased in the sands of time stand out clearly once again in consciousness. See logically and exactly the irrational or exaggerated part, in the reasoning process.

3. Implant the contrary feeling. At the same time two opposed feelings cannot dwell in one and the same subject. If excessive repression, instilled fears or unconquered dangers have formed within you an unconscious source of insecurity and a great tendency to fear, there will be an apt feeding ground for phobias, doubts and scruples. Replace this with an equal or greater overtone of value, security or boldness and you will return to normality.

How can this be done? The will can do this in one jump if it feels the possibility of the act; for example, “In such and such a circumstance I shall be secure, I shall keep control.” But since feelings are usually hard to manage there are few people who experience a feeling that the act is possible. Enter then by another route. Go from the exterior to the interior. Make use of the body's influence on the soul. It is certain that “whoever sings kills his pains”. But even the timid soul who clenches his fists, fixes his glance and says with conviction, “Forward!” feels his own worth being reborn. When a pious man finds himself lukewarm and dry (with no feeling of devotion), yet takes a devout posture and prays with the tone of humility and confidence, he soon comes to the feeling of devotion. If the soul influences the body, the body also truly modifies the mental activity of the soul.

Live out then in your imagination the circumstances which in real life dismay you. During this imaginary experience describe with a tone of conviction the emotional state in which you should be, the one which would please you or is that of normal people. If this tone of security is very intense it will finally produce a proportionate feeling and you will be freed of the phobia.

A colleague of mine from the country whom a common locust would throw into a panic. If he saw one nearby he would begin to tremble, move away and break into full flight. This was unavoidable and he would almost throw himself out of the window if he could find no other means of exit. The doctor had him imagine that a locust was flying through the door and then say to himself, imitating the tone of security with which the priest spoke, “And I am just as calm as before.” “The locust is coming near,” the psychologist would say, and the patient would repeat this and imagine it vividly. He would start to shift his position but on repeating, “I am still calm; it makes no difference to me,” he would really grow calm. Again the doctor would say, “The locust is right next to me. It is in my hands” (He had had one brought in a small bottle) . . . “It is in my hands” (He had him take the bottle) … “And my appearance is unchanged.” Hardly had he repeated this last phrase in a tone of great control when a deep breath and an open smile made known his complete liberation.

4. Form within your mind a system of ideas, sensations, actions and desires, a frame work which is a favorable background to the feeling you wish to retain. This feeling will annihilate the contrary feeling. Its very presence will help you to avoid a clash or struggle and resultant exaggeration in your emotions. Thus a timid person should think, speak and work with courage and boldness, or as if he had these qualities.

5. By meditation on the higher goods of your whole being or on eternal goods, weaken the force of instinct. Weaken also the attraction of what satisfies one particular organ of your being, or brings passing, temporary satisfaction to mere instinct.

6. Work as if you had the true or noble feeling you desire, or as if you did not feel the contrary tendency or repugnance. Such acts will produce the noble feelings.

7. By elimination exercises habituate yourself to the practice of introducing this intruder sun (phobia, obsession) voluntarily into your consciousness, and immediately banishing it. To become skilled in this practice act as follows.

a. Choose three or four objects and place them on a piece of white paper. Take one of these in your hand and put it aside. Then close your eyes and see that the object separated stays eliminated from your mind. In the same way, with your hand and mind both, remove the remaining objects until none of them is left in consciousness.

b. Write three or four numerals mentally and then mentally erase them.

c. Repeat the same exercise with three or four letters or words.

d. Finally, when enough control has been obtained, sum up the cause of your weakness in a word or phrase, write it upon your mind and rub it out. Note that when you voluntarily implant the phobia or obsessing idea and it is not imposed by the subconscious, the usual disturbance is not provoked. Through such mastery these ideas will gradually disappear from your mental background, at first temporarily but at last for good and all.

8. Concentrate on the opposite

a. Concentrate on the image or feeling of calm and peace. Find in your past, or decide upon now, a feeling or memory of moral and physical tranquility, for instance, a landscape, melody, prayer. Concentrate as much as you can on this sensation until you again re-live it.

b. Concentrate on the image or feeling of energy and strength. Try to feel anew your own moral force. Remember energetic moments of your life. The orator will find these in a discourse, the merchant in a successful business affair, the soldier in a battle, and so forth. Reproduce these moments mentally. If you have never really had this experience, strengthen yourself by understanding what energy means. Use images or comparisons which are accommodated to your own mental makeup and which penetrate more deeply into the subconscious. With a little perseverance you can attain this feeling of strength.

c. Concentrate on the image or feeling of control. This is a consequence of the preceding. If anyone can be tranquil or energetic when he wishes then he evidently has control. Try to verify this control in yourself at the present moment and continue until you develop and implant the exact feeling of this faculty. Do these concentration exercises for a few moments at first, then for a longer time. Repeat them several times a day in different or difficult circumstances until they penetrate into the unconscious. A feeling of control with an origin like this cuts out the root of phobias.

Indirect Cure For Exaggerated Feelings

When the origin of trouble remains unknown or difficult to banish, the indirect method of cure is called for. This will be to remove satellites from the intruder sun. Do not voluntarily allow satellite feelings or acts aroused by them to remain in your consciousness. Sweep them out immediately and occupy your attention with other acts, sensations or concentrations which are voluntarily and fully conscious.

Reinforce the unity of your “mental solar system” with new thoughts and conscious and voluntary acts. It would be hard for ideas and feelings thus to become deformed. And those already deformed will return to normal. For consciousness focuses our thoughts and automatically makes them more clear and normal. And the fact that they are voluntary does away with their chaotic and disturbing force.

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Scruples

A lady had been suffering for seventeen years from persistent scruples. These had stolen away all her peace and joy. She could not go to Communion unless Confession had immediately preceded it. Even then she went in fear and trembling. She seemed quite discouraged and in a decline. Her illness was not moral but psychic. She had nothing to fear for her soul but that her health was in danger. The working of a scruple was not intellectual but emotional. For example, there were one or more frightful experiences or thoughts establishing this feeling in the unconscious. From this unconscious level they bothered her by arousing fear of sin, either when similar images or happenings occurred or when she had similar depressing feelings.

The conditions for mortal sin: full consciousness and a deliberate act of the will in a serious matter. By thus eliminating the root of fear she could promise herself that in the future she would not fear the scruple but discredit it. She would substitute a conscious sensation for it whenever it arose. By means of conscious acts, each time repeated more frequently, she began to come out of her merely subjective world and live in the objective order. After six months. later she was healthy, joyful and happy. The scruples only returned once, during a mental crisis occasioned by the death of her father. But she mastered them in a very short time.

Method for Handling Scruples

What should a scrupulous person do in the concrete? First, he should be convinced that his illness is mental rather than moral. What should we say to someone who comes up to a priest and keeps saying, “Father, save me. I have such a toothache I know I'm going to hell.” The answer should be, “Go see your dentist, but don't think that you are lost because of a reason like that.” The scrupulous person must be told something similar. Persistent scruples indicate that you have some emotional disturbance. But don't you worry about your eternal salvation.

1. He should increase his conscious life and live in the present. The “Age quod agis” (“Do what you're doing”) is almost nullified in a scrupulous person.

2. He should re-educate his powers of concentration by forming the habit of thinking of only one thing a t a time. The scrupulous man does not know how to separate himself from his obsession when he is studying, conversing or working.

3. He should above all strengthen his will by means of repeated decisions. These latter are almost extinguished in him.

4. He should exact of himself blind obedience to his director, an obedience which is founded upon supernatural faith. He should recognize that he is blind, that he needs a guide, and that for the time being he has a right not to be guided by or make changes in accordance with what his disturbed conscience tells him. He should follow what his director says to do. And in moments of doubt he must adhere to what has been determined or resolved upon at a more tranquil time or with the director's aid.

Once upon a time there was a blind man, led along by his guide, who all of a sudden stopped and said, “I can't go another step; I see a deep pit in front of me.” The guide answered, “You do not see what is really there but something in your imagination. Let's go ahead. You leave the worrying to me.” So it is with the scrupulous person.

5. He should not be moved by doubts or a “perhaps”, but only by evidence.

6. He should be content with human security about salvation or the state of grace. He should not desire to have the kind of security or certitude proper to God's knowledge or that of men who are in heaven (the kind that excludes all possibility of the opposite). Thus he will help to bring about that state of confidence which is so pleasing to God.

7. He should increase this confidence by repeated concrete acts, even if the effort to overcome the contrary feeling calls for heroism on his part.

8. He should fight against the unconscious feeling of fear or doubt which is the remote root of scruples. He should frequently repeat thoughts, sentences and acts of courage and confidence.

All these procedures are mental coups d'etat. These are resolutions and assaults against diseased and cowardly ideas which tend to monopolize your conduct. Resolve to set this revolution afoot and you will be done with the indecision, inactivity and mediocrity which blunt your faculties.

A great saint was once so beset by scruples that, almost in despair, he went into a church and said to Our Lord, “If I am going to curse You throughout all eternity in Hell, at least I want to love and praise You in this life.” And he gave free rein to sentiments of love and praise of God. He walked out of that church cured. This strong feeling and positive emotion of love had destroyed the negative emotion of fear which had been causing so many scruples in him.

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