This post is a little different than others, but I thought I would explain the process by which I find inner peace. It is a pretty cool method which seems to work for me, so I thought I would post it as I wrote it over the weekend, which is a little out of character for me, but what the hell. Let’s go crazy. Let’s break some rules. Let’s be spontaneous.
Honestly, I didn’t realize that there was a method to my madness until I bought a book yesterday called Focusing by Eugene Gendlin thinking that it was going to help me learn to meditate and calm down my active analytical voices, and quickly learned that much of what I have shared with you on my blog I learned in a manner very similar to what he describes. I will show you my own methodology, but because I only skimmed his book last night, I really can’t say if we share the exact same method, but my gut tells me we are pretty close.
So this post is for those of you who would like to change, but perhaps have found that you are stuck, and that no matter how much you try, you can’t ever seem to get past your own issues. If your aren’t sure if this is you or not, ask yourself if you are truly happy. If the answer is no, this process should help you immensely to find your inner happiness, because, happiness can be found within, if you know how to uncover it.
The basic idea behind what I do, is let my subconscious provide information to my conscience mind that I can use to better understand my issues. You have probably experienced a similar phenomena, when you left the house, and had an internal feeling of anxiety which told you that you forgot to do something, and after thinking about things and realizing that you left the door unlocked, felt a sense of relief that you figured it out. So too here, we will take your feelings (anxiety, anger, etc), learn to do “something” to help you think through things, then feel a sense of relief once you have figured things out.
To better explain why this works: I believe that the subconscious mind creates a whole model of how we feel about things, which is our personal truth. This personal truth is what our feelings are based on, and when your conscious level is not in balance with this subconscious, it creates a palpable negative feeling within you – and it is this feeling that ultimately clouds your happiness. By giving your conscience the information it needs to bring it in line with your subconscious, the feeling recedes, and internal peace – happiness – is left. I’ll explain this again, in a concrete example, in a few paragraphs.
Alright, enough academics, lets get started.
All you need to be successful in this process is yourself and a journal. The reason a journal is key is that it allows you to hold on to your thoughts long enough to do something with them, which is a lost art for many of our short focus generation.
First, find a place you like to sit and think, pretty much where people are around, like a coffee shop, or by yourself at home. Wherever you think and can focus best, works best.
Second, we need to target what we are going to try to solve. For this step you are looking internally for those areas where you feel a certain way about something, but you just don’t know why. For example, let’s pretend that whenever I am around Susan, I am anxious. Now, I shouldn’t be anxious. I really like Susan, and logically, there is no reason at all for my feeling of anxiety. So there is a conflict between how I feel, and how I think I should feel. This is a perfect problem to work on, since my feeling (which is influenced by my subconsciousness) and my conscience are not in line. So the goal will be to get the information from by subconscious, so I can give it to my conscience, and bring everything together.
Third, now that we have a problem in hand, we start writing about it in our journal. It needs to be a free flow straight from your brain to the paper. In my example, I’ll start writing something like this:
“Why am I anxious around Susan? I love Susan, so I really shouldn’t be anxious around her. (THINK) Maybe it’s because she seems to criticize my choice of clothes. No that’s not it because, Paul’s is also critical of my clothes, and I’m not anxious around him. (THINK) Maybe it’s because, she always points out how great her life is… Yeah, that’s it! She always is saying that she goes on amazing trips, and that makes me feel like my life is boring. Yeah, my life is boring, I never do anything new. Wow, that’s it! I need to make some changes in my life to make life more exciting.”
So if you look at the above paragraph, a lot happened. We started thinking that the anxiety was about Susan, when in fact, it was really about my own lack of excitement in life. By the end of the fictional exercise, I had gone somewhere else entirely that I originally had expected, and I promise you if I sat down with Susan, I would not be anxious anymore.
However, before we end, there are two steps that need a little better detail. First we must (3a) review what was happening at the areas marked, (THINK) above until we (3b) get to the point that you have figured things out.
(3a) You see, the purpose of the journal is help iconify your thoughts. What I mean by that is similar to a Jesus statuete, when you thoughts are on the paper, your goal will be to come to a conclusion that you can hold up and rotate in your brain.
So after I write “Why am I anxious around Susan? I like Susan, so I really shouldn’t be anxious around her.” I take a moment and objectify the question. I envision Susan and I feel the anxiety. However, I don’t think about it. I just let it be and see what comes to mind. The first thought that comes is her criticalness, so I write it down. But that doesn’t feel right.
Now, I guess I should explain what I mean by “feel right.” There is a bunch of this stuff in the colloquial, if you pay attention. It’s what you mean when you say “it just didn’t sit right with me”, or what a friend means when he said “my gut told me not to do it.” When something doesn’t feel right, there is a palapable incongruity that we can feel, if we are pay attention to our inner selves.
[Plus, you’ll note that I mentioned in the jourinaling logically, it didn’t fit. Usually, if something doesn’t feel right, it also won’t fit logically. Remember, that ultimately, things that feel right, will work at all three levels, subconscious, feeling, and conscience (analytical).]
So we discard the first notion, and go back to thinking, and come up with a second or third or fourth, until we get one that feels right. You are basically brainstorming and loosely thinking about the issue and letting ideas flow in and out until you find one that just feels right.
(3b) For me, I know it feels right, when I think of something and can feel the gear click in place as the logic that I pulled from my subconsciousness floats to the top and all of my being gets in line. Think of it as getting adjusted mentally. It is what Oprah call an “Aha moment.” (Well, I don’t know that, since I don’t watch Oprah, but either way, I think that is a great way of thinking of this experience.)
Honestly, an aha moment is one of the best feelings that I have ever experienced. It creates a natural high and is something I always look forward to. I had one on Thursday, that literally felt like the Claritan clear commercial, if you get my gist. And once you have experienced that feeling, you know that you have created change within yourself. Now, in all honesty, sometimes it takes a day before you know your have figured out only 10% of the issue, or 100% of the issue. However, if you only have 10%, keep going, and before you know it, you’ll have the entire thing licked!
P.S. You may find that a therapist can help you fill in the (THINK) areas above. The goal in that case, will be to not allow them to tell you what feels right, but to allow your body to tell you if it is right or not, and just allow your therapist to provide some alternative thoughts (i.e. brainstorming ideas) when you are stuck. Of course, a friend can help you as well, but therapists have worked with dozens of people like yourself, and probably have some ideas that can help you brainstorm quicker. But make sure you stay in control of the discussion, since only you know what feels right!