Bonus post: don’t forget relief!

This work is subtle.

Can you tell the difference between contentment versus trying to feel contentment?

Trying is never a good idea because it implies a denial or refusal to accept where you are.

It’s easy to think you’re in control, feel content, then find an old negative thought and lose your contentment.

How do you get back up? You can’t force it. You need relief.

Relief.

Relief can be used whenever you are feeling less than content. Relief is the feeling of resistance letting go, bringing you closer to alignment.

I’m told that after contentment, letting go of resistance feels like fun because the positive now outweighs the negative.

So wherever you are, find a feeling of relief until you eventually arrive at contentment (could be ten minutes, could be ten months, depending on subjects and individuals).

Ups and downs

In my experience on this journey I’ve run into two mistakes. The first is trying to get ahead of where I am instead of just feeling relief.

Relief always works, nothing else works better than relief. Use whatever thoughts bring you relief. Relief is a path that can’t fail unless you stumble into the second mistake of thinking:

“Well if relief is so great, more relief will be even greater!!”

This can trip us up because it sounds like we are still finding relief. But in fact we are rejecting relief for the sake of some unlikely thing called “more relief”. But relief is just relief, and rejecting it for any reason is a mistake.

New territory

I was going to say I’ve made three mistakes, but I’m cutting myself some slack on this one because it was new territory for me.

On arriving at the stage of contentment, relief doesn’t work anymore. I wasn’t expecting that, because I’ve never been to contentment so deliberately till now.

I didn’t know how to proceed, and since I was feeling pretty good I decided to try to feel “more good”.

It turns out that “more good” is like “more relief”, spurious and misleading.

What I will try to do next time is just enjoy the good feeling in the same way that I enjoy the relief feeling, without trying to make it more or bigger.

It’s a game…20!

The good news about boredom.

I get bored easily. I have friends who get bored a lot, and it can feel like the bane of our existence.

Not to mention the nagging feeling that it’s our fault. If only we were out living more adventurous and fulfilling lives full of people and activities.

“I don’t have time to be bored, too busy having fun!” taunts the inner voice of imagined instagramable extroverts. “Just get out there and live life!”

So the first bit of good news is that they’re wrong. Taking action to overcome boredom doesn’t work, as you well know. When you are bored everything you touch gets infected by the dissatisfying ennui.

If you’re frequently and strongly bored, then you’re obviously not in a place to embrace sudden inspiration. Ignore those people who make it sound like boredom would no longer be a problem if only you’d love more like them.

So what can you do to relieve boredom?

Well the second bit of good news is that this is the wrong question to be asking. Trying to get rid of boredom doesn’t work because you can’t push things out of your experience by giving them attention.

The right question is this:

How can I feel better about being bored?

Finding relief

The third and biggest bit of good news about boredom is that it’s actually a very high emotional state! It’s the highest you can get while still being negative.

I used to think boredom proved that life was bad, because it was often the best I felt. When nothing bad was going on I just felt bored.

If only I had known how close boredom is to contentment! Boredom is one step away from contentment on the emotional guidance scale. Having lots of boredom, being frequently bored; this is excellent news because it means you are frequently so close to contentment!!!

All it takes to go from boredom to contentment is a little relief. Just knowing that boredom is so close will help. Next time you feel bored, look for relief not in the direction of excitement or inspiration or enthusiasm because that is too big a jump. Instead look for relief in the direction of being content.

All those times I felt bored I was focused on the lack of excitement and enthusiasm and interest and novelty. But if I had instead started appreciating what I already had: lying on the couch with the window streaming sunlight over me, nothing needing my attention, no one hassling me. No effort required, no jobs to be done. Appreciating the stability and security of my home. Appreciating being in my body and relaxing.

Just look for relief that feels like contentment, and when you feel content let that be enough for you.

Turning lead into gold

I think it was Jung who popularised the idea that alchemy was about inner transformation. Turning “base metals” into gold was really about turning boredom and other negative emotions into contentment and other positive ones.

Isn’t it wonderful then to know that all your boredom can become gold? Instead of complaining about how often you feel bored, isn’t it exciting to realise that you are that often on the verge of contentment?

The lead of boredom can become the gold o contentment. All it takes is the practice of finding relief in that direction.

After all, if you are feeling bored it means first and foremost that you have everything you need. And since you create your reality that means you have allowed yourself to receive so much already.

You are right on the tipping point, and now that supposed bane of your experience is the threshold to your happiness.

It’s a game…19!

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.

Vibrational 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!

It’s a game…18!

If you practice feeling good/better/less bad/relief you will gradually encounter and then release all resistance within you.

You don’t have to go looking for it. It’s just like water flowing into a river and gradually eroding all obstacles and blockages.

And spontaneously issues will arise, discomfort, negative emotion and resistance. All you need to do is find relief and the answers will come.

Today my path of feeling good has brought me relief from some more resistance.

I learned as a child that I was wrong to feel good when those around me felt bad. I was told – and eventually accepted – that it was unfair and selfish for me to be happy when those around me were unhappy.

From this I understood that before I could legitimately be happy I had to share in the burdens and problems that were responsible for other people’s unhappiness.

As a simple example: it was put to me that I was happy because I wasn’t responsible for the upkeep of the family home. My compassionate response was to help, to lessen the burden on those who were suffering.

It took me many years to learn that this kind of “suffering” was not caused by burdensome tasks. Rather, people’s attitude and vibration of burden and suffering caused them to find corresponding tasks and use them as excuses to stay out of alignment with their own inner being.

There was nothing I could do to help a misaligned person find their alignment. The best thing I could have done at that time or at any time is to find my own alignment and not add momentum to others’ stories of trouble and woe.

The best and most compassionate thing I can do for anyone is to begin with compassion and love for myself, which means allowing myself to feel relief and practicing feeling good regardless of conditions and circumstances.

I don’t need others’ permission for me to feel good. I don’t need others to be happy as a prerequisite for my own happiness. I can be happy right now, and let those good feelings be enough for me.

It’s a game…15!

Just find feelings of relief.

The whole point of alignment is to see things the same way that your inner being sees them.

In that sense it’s incredibly simple. Your inner being sees both the wanted and unwanted in your experience but only ever focuses on the wanted.

If you could always focus on the wanted you too would feel good and your life would change for the better.

But if you’ve been feeling very bad for a long time it can be difficult to even imagine or find thoughts about the wanted aspects of life.

Look at my example: I struggled to genuinely feel good about things in my life, and it turned out my underlying thoughts were incredibly bleak – thoughts full of hate and resentment to life and opposition to my own existence!

It’s a bit like wanting to have more money, but also thinking money is the root of all evil and should be avoided. A bit of a conflict.

So you feel really bad, and you struggle to find positive or inspiring thoughts. The answer is to simply look for thoughts or things that bring a feeling of relief, and keep on allowing yourself to feel relief.

Relief is how it feels when you move in a more positive direction from a negative starting point. Relief will help you get from the most negative feelings of powerlessness gradually tending in the direction of contentment.

Relief is the feeling of just letting the current carry you.

Relief is always right and it always works.

It’s a relief to know that I create my reality.

It’s a relief to know that my inner being is pure positive energy.

It’s a relief to know that I don’t have to do anything or make any effort.

It’s a relief knowing that all my desires are fulfilled.

It’s a relief knowing that relief is always the answer.

It’s a game…14!

Turned a corner.

Post number 12 was very powerful for me.

By the end I’d realised there was a sense of discord within me that I had been projecting onto my reality, giving rise to more and more discordant situations and conditions.

Sitting with that sense of inner discord, I didn’t try to pick it apart but instead looked for relief, since every good idea or insight I’ve ever had has been received by me after feeling ease and relief.

Sure enough it soon came to me that the discord I feel is due to a conflict between my physical self and my inner being.

My inner being wants me to be here, living and enjoying life, creating my reality by finding alignment.

But for many years I, my physical self, just wanted it to be over. Conditions were once so unwanted that I decided there was no value taking part in life, and that resistance to my own existence here is the essence of my discord.

Things have changed. I’ve learned a lot. And most importantly I’ve learned that this resistance to existing here in physical reality doesn’t feel very good.

Abraham says that words don’t teach, experience teaches. Sure enough, the grindingly awful experience of profound discord has taught me that it would be nice to feel better. It would be nice to enjoy life for once. It would be nice to experience the kind of treasures I’ve been storing up “in heaven”.

It would be nice to experience life without discord, to feel congruity between my self and my reality.

And with that, I feel I’ve turned a corner.

It’s a game…11!

Imagine if you just found out you’d won $50 million dollars, and you went about your usual day not telling anyone, just feeling totally relieved at peace, excited and blissful.

People would notice and your day would be different, not because of the money but because you’d allowed yourself to feel good, using the money as an excuse to not care about anything else.

When Abraham-Hicks tells people to find the feeling-place of their desires, this is exactly what they mean. Because what we want is the feeling, first and foremost. But the feeling doesn’t come objectively from money or other conditions.

The feeling comes from allowing and alignment. Allowing yourself to align with your inner being, which is pure positive energy.

After all, if the money came like that your blissful feeling would not last. Your usual attitude would reassert itself. That’s why conditional happiness is so fragile and unattainable.

What we really need is to find the happiness that comes from alignment with your inner being. Because your inner being is the purely positive being that created your physical self, and sustains it always.

Your existence is not designed for conditional happiness. It’s designed to experience contrast, and launch new desires and preferences for the sake of your inner being’s expansion.

Why does the thought of winning so much money feel good? Not because of the money itself – you don’t have that yet – but because you are finally aligning with your inner being’s attitude of ease and freedom and power and possibility.

With that much money you would be free from most economic and many social constraints. A lifetime’s worth of unpleasant thoughts about study, work, income, effort and struggle would be immediately irrelevant. That is why it feels good! People would treat you differently and you would treat yourself differently, or so you imagine.

These imagined benefits are already your inner being’s experience. It has never taken on any burdensome thoughts nor denied itself any of the love and appreciation that are its essence.

Every desire and preference you have can be seen in terms of the good feeling it inspires: love, joy, freedom, expansion, belonging, authenticity; and the reason these feel good is that they are a match to your inner being already.

Your inner being never bought into the dismal world you accepted. That’s why you feels so bad, because it’s so far away from the reality your inner being – your Source, God, the greater part of you – inhabits.

Every time you allow yourself to feel relief, to feel less bad, to feel better – no matter what thought helps you feel it – you are coming more into alignment with your inner being and that is why it feels good.

Keep finding the sure path of relief relief relief, less bad less bad less bad, better better better, and one day it will be good good good. Relief is the path that will take you fully into alignment if you practice it.

It’s a game…06!

The whole point of feeling better consistently is that we can finally arrive at a point where real love is within reach.

Genuine love for ourselves and others is something we experience when we are in alignment with our inner being, what we sometimes call God.

But feeling better is like any practiced skill. You can’t go to the heights of skill right away.

I can’t start learning the piano and immediately begin playing my favourite pieces. They are too advanced.

But I can keep improving, and if I focus on improving then eventually my favourite pieces will be the next logical step in my improvement.

So while it’s good to be inspired by advanced pieces, it’s also very helpful to focus on improvement as our daily practice and source of satisfaction. Improvement is always within reach, even when Schubert isn’t.

The same applies to “feeling better” by finding relief, and “feeling wonderful” which is a point we will inevitably arrive at by practicing feeling better.

Feel better, find relief, practice that direction and wonderful feelings are inevitably in your path.

Take satisfaction in feeling better and finding relief, and you will master it even more easily.

And relief is so powerful. It can be used on everything. So even when impatience and doubt about your path strike you, look for relief. When you beat yourself up for feeling bad, find relief. When you find past traumas cropping up, find relief. And even when you have sudden insights and clarity and moments of elation, enjoy them but don’t forget relief.

After a time you’ll see all kinds of themes and patterns at play in your life. Just don’t give up. Keep finding relief and you will grow so strong and so sure in it that you will be able to soften any discord in your path, ease the turbulence that sometimes strikes, and find your way assuredly to the feelings of inner love, joy, freedom and contentment you seek.

Facing tough contrast

Keep reminding yourself that contrast means good things are coming. That’s the best way to handle it. Don’t bother trying to fix it or analyse it when you’re already feeling not at your best. Just keep remembering that contrast means something good is coming. That should bring a little bit of relief, and remind you to look forward and to trust and allow good things to come to you, allowing yourself to feel better – even if the path is not immediately clear.

Pushing against boredom

Our old habit is to push against things we don’t like. But pushing against something just increases our resistance, and since we are already creating our reality, increased resistance means more of what we don’t like.

Last night I went to bed feeling irritable, angry and in physical pain, struggling to work out why and find relief.

It wasn’t until this morning that I felt good enough to see the bigger picture.

After dinner I’d been feeling bored, and my wife wanted to use my computer to watch a movie.

I was already feeling bored, and in addition I felt like I wasn’t free to use the computer myself. So now I felt bored and powerless.

I looked for something else to do, but couldn’t find anything. I started to feel annoyed at myself for not having more interesting options.

An old physical pain started to return, and I decided to go for a run. But between the pain and the cold outside I felt too dismal to continue.

Coming back home I was angry and frustrated, irritated and powerless. To make matters worse, I believed I shouldn’t feel this way, and it was up to me to overcome or solve these bad feelings.

But by now I was pushing so hard against all these unwanted things, and these old patterns of thought had a lot of momentum. Boredom, frustration, powerlessness and anger, going right back to childhood.

Go to sleep

Sleep was the best way to get some relief. But this unwanted experience was also valuable contrast. It showed me very clearly a residual pocket of resistance, and in the light of day I can see how it started and how it got worse and worse by pushing against the unwanted.

Pushing against things doesn’t work. I tried to push against boredom, focusing on how unwanted it felt, and soon every aspect of my experience felt unwanted and infuriating.

Boredom is very close to contentment. If I could relax and look for things to feel good about, the boredom would dissipate in my ease and relief.

That’s how we create our reality after all. I thought I was bored because there was nothing to do, but it’s the other way around: I couldn’t find anything to do because I was already feeling bored. And I was already feeling bored because I’d looked to my circumstances to entertain me and make me feel good.

The lesson is clear: if I feel bored I find everything boring. If I feel satisfied I discover satisfying things. If I feel excited I will find exciting things. And if I feel inspired I will draw inspiration into my experience.

The only variable is momentum – if I’ve spent a lot of time in negative emotions then it will take longer for positive ones to bear fruit. If you’re really good at feeling bored, inspiration will take a bit longer to learn.