If I were helping a friend navigate the “create your reality” game, how would I go about it?
Be honest…where are you emotionally?
The first thing would be an honest assessment of where you are emotionally on a daily basis.
For many people this is straightforward: a mix of positive and negative emotion.
For others it is predominantly negative emotion.
And for a minority it is both negative and also obscured by defence mechanisms like emotional inhibition.
That’s not to say this third group is lacking positive emotions, just that it isn’t immediately clear to them how they are feeling.
Some people can’t tell the difference between how they feel, and how they think they should feel.
Feeling good…or just a little less bad?
Where you are emotionally will determine the next step.
If you are in a mix of positive and negative emotion, your aim would be to focus on the positives and stop activating the negatives.
Whatever is going well for you, draw on that more. When negatives arise you can start finding better-feeling thoughts on those subjects.
If you’re feeling really good you can even start visualising and imagining things you’d enjoy having in your life!
But if you’re more on the negative end of the scale these efforts would backfire. Trying to feel really good when you’re in a persistently negative place is like trying to go jogging when you’re meant to be in rehab.
People who feel persistently bad have usually spent many years practicing patterns of thoughts and attitudes that cause negative emotion.
One of these patterns is called “all-or-nothing” thinking in cognitive behavioural therapy. That’s the kind of thinking that says “learning to walk again is too slow, I’m going to start running!” Or “getting out of debt won’t solve my problems, I need to get rich right now!”
Or more directly if these analogies don’t grab you: “feeling less bad isn’t enough. I want to feel amazing!”
At the heart of this all-or-nothing attitude is resistance that leads to impatience and self-sabotage. You may not think you are sabotaging yourself but the bottom line is feeling so bad about where you are that you’ll only make a move if you’re guaranteed a radical and immediate transformation.
The challenge here is that accepting a small improvement means acknowledging how bad you feel already. We want to think we are close to our goal of feeling wonderful, and the more modest goal of feeling “slightly less awful” is like a slap in the face.
Learning to focus
But like any skill, deliberately feeling good cannot be faked. Whatever your learning process looks like (and biting off more than you can chew is also a learning process) the end result must include the ability to soothe negative emotions and allow positive ones to gain momentum.
I’ve spent three years working on this material, after more than 30 years of developing habits of thought that didn’t serve me – as well as many that did serve me.
The best way is to practice feeling slight relief. Deliberately finding a feeling of relief repeatedly throughout your day.
Finding relief is the mechanism of alignment. It is the way of opening up to the pure positive energy of your inner being.
Don’t think that slight relief is “not enough”. Just like the rehab example: relief is to feeling good as learning to bear weight on your legs is to running.
There’s not a single skill you’ve ever learned that didn’t start with the most modest attempt. Children must learn to sit up before they can stand, stand before they can walk, and walk before they can run. At not a single point do they beat themselves up for not running straight away.
Feeling good is something you’ve never deliberately practiced before. Cut yourself all the slack in the world and practice feeling relief, and applaud yourself every time you do!