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From the book that never was ~

In this section we go into the lab. We’re going to be taking the emotions we discovered in the first section on the Table of Emotions and playing with them, mixing them and seeing what happens when we combine certain elemental emotions.

One of the things about Emotions is that they rarely travel alone.  They are most often accompanied by at least one, but maybe many more.  Combine the wrong emotions and you can have a real mess on your hands.

Mix any two fear-based feelings, like Closed and Insecure, Stress and Pressure, or Hunger and Anxiety. Your potion might start to hiss, boil and then explode all over you, as sure as if you’d opened a pressure cooker at the wrong time!

The same is true for positive emotions. Just imagine what great things can come forth from combining Abundance and Generosity!  How about someone who feels Peaceful and Caring?  Love and Joy; Confident and Excited, are also pleasant Love-Based mixtures.

Some things to note:

*  Choosing emotions from different families on the Table of Emotions can produce a more tempered potion.

*  Adding Doubt or Gratitude can instantaneously change the color of your potion.

*  Combing Love and Fear emotions does not always produce a guaranteed result.

Emotions can arise in you or come out of others.  Blending these two can be especially powerful.  Emotions are contagious.  Have you ever noticed how a happy person can walk into a room and change everyone’s mood?  Lift all the other spirits?

Homework for this section is to observe the myriad of emotion combinations possible. See if you can tell which feelings are going on at the same time within you and without you.

The second class in the Smart module of the book that never was is “Emotion Chemistry.”  This class will take the reader into the lab to observe emotions at play.

Section one is Exploring the Table of Emotions

As there is a Table of the Elements of Life, there can also be a Table of Emotions.  Your emotions direct your actions.  Anyone who has ever lost his or her temper knows this is true.

Knowing which emotion you are processing gives you a lot information about where you are in the present moment.  How you are reacting to what’s going on. The awareness also keeps you focused in the now.

This might seem a bit ambiguous, to decide if the emotion makes you feel “good” or “bad.”  What about those pesky “neutral” feelings in the middle?

To try to get a grasp on the wiggling nature of emotions, it helps to separate them.  We can see them falling into different families, such as physical feelings, like pain or heat or mental feelings such as love or frustration. Another family might be positive or negative feelings, Another might be those inspiring to create, or making you stop in your tracks.

The easiest way to slice them is to ask, is this emotion backed by love or fear?  This simple distinction can give you a tidy frame of reference.  You can usually tell if you feel comfortable in it or not. Broadly speaking, anything that doesn’t make you feel jazzed up, full of energy, ready to go, overflowing, could be considered on the fear side.

In “Conversations with God, Book 3,” God names the five natural emotions: Love, Fear, Grief, Anger, and Envy.  He explains it like this: “The five natural emotions include love and fear, yet love and fear are the basis for all emotions.  The other three of the five natural emotions are outgrowths of these two.”   And, He adds, in the end, it’s all love anyway. . .

It’s a fine thing to master the art of quickly naming your emotions.  Naming something gives you more control over it, helps you to understand it and express it more naturally.  Once you’ve sensed that you’re getting angry, you have time to decide how you want to use it.  In this way you can use your feelings in a natural way. You can see the anger telling you this is something you do not choose.  And within that, find the love.  Grief teaches you about letting go, Envy helps you to reach for more.

So, being able to identify which emotion you’re feeling helps you to feel it, process it and use the knowledge. With that, you can make a new decision how to proceed.

In honor of the 25th anniversary publishing, I’ve started rereading Susan Jeffers’ “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway.”  When I finish, I‘ll write up a nice review of it.  In the meantime, as always, Susan inspires me.

She had a story about when her mother had gone in for surgery.  Susan was sitting with her for a long time, but when she got up to leave, her mother, still weak from the procedure called to her, “Be safe.”  The point was, though her mother was being a good mother and caring about her daughter, what she was doing was acknowledging her own fear. And that she would rest easier if she knew her daughter was safe.  Susan also, wisely, noted that in saying that, even with the best intentions, her mother was also saying she didn’t trust that Susan could and would keep herself safe.

I wrote an article in college about “weasel words.”  They are those words and phrases, often used in advertising, which say nothing. They’re meant to just attract with fluff, but leave nothing at the center.  This is just the opposite of that.  These are words or phrases stuffed to the gills with meaning, overflowing.  Leaving behind ghosts of meanings in their wake.

I was freaking out the other day about not really knowing how to do something that I needed to do.   My colleague, wanting to help, offered to do it for me.  Sounds nice.  But the message delivered was:  “Since you can’t do it yourself, I’ll do it for you.”  What that said to me was I am incapable of doing it or even learning how.  Didn’t make me feel a whole lot better.  I needed to know how to do it because I couldn’t run to him anytime I had to do this in the future.

Parents are often guilty of this.  Calling warnings to their children like Susan’s mother did.  What they really mean is, “I am afraid for you.”  The message that hits those tender ears is that you can’t watch out for yourself.

Communication is a funny thing.  You have these words, hanging out there.  On the one side, you have the deliverer who may or may not know the hidden meaning behind the words.  Then, on the other side, you have the receiver who hears one thing and may ingest it in a totally different way.  How we manage to communicate at all is a miracle.  There are so many layers of information to move through.  We so rarely get the real meaning.

Like everything else, the interpretation is in the mind of the beholder.  So as the receiver, you can take things any way you please.  Particularly since you may not know the impetus behind what you hear.  You might as well take it the way that feels best and chase away the ghosts.

America has a song called, “This Time.”  It has a lyric that always gets me.  “I’ve seen confusion in your eyes.  I’ve seen uncertainty and fear.”

Sometimes I feel like I’m always wandering around in uncertainty and fear.   What will happen next?  Will I get what I’m after?

I have to remind myself that my doubts are, in fact, understandable, but not based in fact.  What I’m trying to do is big.  However, there are far more indicators which say I can succeed.

Perhaps that’s what scares me.  The thought of winning and what that means.  Could it really be possible that I could get what I want?  What if it’s taken away before I get a chance to enjoy it?

I don’t want those fears to stop me!

An antidote I’ve found is to simply make a choice to allow the good stuff to flow into my life.  Feel it, be it, own it.  Don’t shy away from it.  Remain in the present moment and open to it.

If I stay out of the “muck of negativity,” (those sticky negative feelings of doubt which make it so much harder to move forward) I can take better care of myself by enjoying the process, whether I win or not. Keeping my eye on the intention.

But if those fears threaten to overwhelm me, when I feel I can’t control it and it’s shoving me back into that muck of uncertainty and fear, I’m just going to take a step in the present moment.  Pick up my other foot and take another step in the next.  One step at a time I will get to where I’m going.

I’ve been asked to write a piece for an e-Newsletter called Follow Your Bliss.  The November issue is going to be about Courage.  So I thought I’d dive in and  explore it a bit.

Courage is an interesting trait.  It’s one of those qualities we come equipped with if we choose to engage it.  Much like imagination or forgiveness.

Many times we are courageous without knowing it. Like young people who can do things older folks wouldn’t.  Maybe too much knowledge and well honed images of what could happen scare some people. I’ve been listening to the Harry Potter books on CD.  Harry does brave things without thinking, “Gee, aren’t I courageous!” He just does what seems to be best to do in the moment.

Perhaps there’s a factor of trust in Courage.  If you trust everything will be okay, you’re more likely to go where others dare not.  There is a point beyond trust even where Courage becomes superfluous.  We might call it Faith.  In that place you have a deep sense that you are protected.  You just know what you’re doing is Right (or you don’t even think about whether or not it’s right or wrong) and that’s enough.

Courage keeps you a safe distance from fear.  A timid person is always afraid of something. Courageous ones lower that number significantly.

“Fear is the little mind killer,” we were taught in Dune.  It’s true.  Nothing shoots down more dreams and great deeds than fear. We might define Courage as the absence of fear.

“Mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear or difficulty,” Merriam Webster says. The origin of the word is Heart.  I like that.  We might say a person with courage has heart.

Perseverance is an important quality. Julia Cameron wrote a book called “Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance.” What good is anything you do if you give up at the first sign of struggle or fear?

Some may need to wield more courage than others.  But perhaps the more you use it, the less you need it.

I’m going to look for places in my life where I’m courageous without even knowing it. And when I start to feel scared or frustrated, I will engage my courage muscle and see what happens.

I was reading in Susan Jeffers’ newsletter this month about how neediness gets in the way of our fully loving another.  I have seen that happen over and over.  When I really needs something from someone, I mean desperately need it, I can see the fear and resistance in their eyes.  Even if they give it to me, I can tell it’s not fun.  If I had just asked for what I wanted, without all the drama, it might have gone a lot easier. Truly, if we are to live without fear, we must let go of our needs.

But what can we say positively about needs? When you need something it’s a strong emotion.  Maybe not all the time, but most of the time an adult can figure out what he or she needs. Food, quiet, rest, another person, a ride, some encouragement, permission . . .

Needs are strong and often unmistakable. What this does is give you important information.  True enough that trying to get your needs fulfilled by others who may or may not be inclined, can be a recipe for disharmony.  But what if you stay where you are, get to know your need, first?  What if you try to decipher what that need is trying to tell you, before you go around begging?  Discovering exactly what you need.

When we understand our needs more clearly, we can decide how best to go about getting them filled.

My contention is, if you use the strong emotion of need to get clearer on what you truly need, you’re standing on firmer ground.  From that stance, you can more powerfully take care of your own needs.

When you come from fear you react to things.  You are, as the name suggests, motivated by fear. That fear often comes from thoughts that you are not in control in some area.  That you feel someone is trying to take your power, your money, usurp your position, make you look bad, or keep you from what you really want.

However, when you come from this place of fear, your judgment is often clouded, as is your true vision of the situation. So, you tend to see things that support your view, not necessarily what’s true or real.

When you come from love you know you have everything you need.  And if you don’t, you know you are capable of getting it for yourself.  You don’t need to count on someone else to give it to you. When you come from love your vision is no longer clouded and you can see the other with eyes of understanding, rather than anger or fear.  From this stance, you are in a much stronger position to ask for what you want, calmly and rationally. And state your case as necessary, in the most loving way you can.

From a place of love you know that we are all responsible or our own needs and you see that it is not your place to heal or cure or even steer the other in whatever you think is the right direction.

People often think that coming from a place of love puts them in a vulnerable position. I would say that’s untrue. Just because you love doesn’t make you a doormat.  In fact, it helps you to choose how you wish to act, rather than reacting and responding from a place of need.  Now that is a vulnerable place!

Everything we do is either from love or fear.  It’s important to look before you act. Check your feelings.  Are you feeling scared and fearful?  Or are you able to feel love and stand firm?

In the end, we always make the choice. It’s a choice no one can take away from us.  No matter what state we are in, what else is going on around us, we can decide whether we will come from love or fear.

My thoughts tell me I need to think certain things.  For instance, the weather.  What will I do if it’s icy, like it is today, and I have to go out?  First of all, I had to tell myself, today, I don’t have to go out. Secondly, if I thought about it a moment, I’d know that I can handle getting around in inclement weather.  Dr. Susan Jeffers tells us in her seminal work, “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway,” that at the core of most fears is that we think we can’t handle something. I have no way of knowing what the weather will be when I do have to go out, so I may not even have to think about it.  But if I do, I am fairly certain I can drive in any kind of weather (or make a decision not to).  So, it doesn’t make much sense for me to stress about it now.

But my thoughts tell me that I MUST prepare, I must wonder about what if.

Does it really do me any good to worry about weather that hasn’t come yet?  In fact, I think I’ll be much better off if I don’t go at it with trepidation.  I will be a more skilled driver (or make a clearer decision) if I’m not stressed out. To try to calculate how the conditions might be, what I might need, how I will maneuver is clearly a waste of energy.

Anytime you face a situation that brings up fear, once you know (or convince yourself) that you can handle it, you can let go of those insistent thoughts that tell you can’t, or that you must plan and predict.  Thoughts are not always right.  Just because you think a thought (or read something on the Internet) does not assure its accuracy.

It’s often helpful to question your thoughts.  Is that so?  Must I really?  Perhaps a more revealing question is:  How do I want to feel in this situation?  This opens up the clog of thoughts.  When I say I would prefer to feel calm in the face of nasty weather, this illuminates the fact that bad weather is just another aspect of what can happen as a resident of this climate.  It’s just another part of life in winter.

We tend to rely on our thoughts and trust in them.  If I’m thinking it’s a difficult situation, I tend to think it must be.  But we can just as easily tell ourselves, it’s an adventure, just something different, a challenge to keep us on our toes.

Sharon Salzberg’s essay, “Seeing Pain,” from “A Heart as Wide as the World.” (Page 78)

Sharon tells us that we so rarely, “Sit down and, in an open, relaxed, non judgmental way, genuinely explore the pain in our lives.”  The tendency is to run away from it, ignore it, pretend it isn’t there.  Not feel it.  Change our mood.

I’d like to exchange the word pain for the word fear.  When you get right down to it, they are, really, the same thing.  Pain is a reaction of the body to a thought of fear.

This is about seeing the pain, or the fear, the worry, if you will, in its distinctive parts. As pain can be tingles or aches, slicing or dicing, so can fears and worries be a mixture of sadness, confusion, guilt . . .  If I allow myself to experience these facets, I see through them, and ultimately stand a better chance of transmuting them. Rather than seeing an impassable Fear, or a formidable wall of Pain, I see its component parts. Which may be far easier to accept. 

In doing that, in truly seeing that they are not solid, we find who we really are beyond whatever cacophony of feelings we might be experiencing.  “ . . . we learn to go to the heart of each moment’s experience, even if it is painful, because there – unclouded by conditioning – we discover our lives.”

Sometimes I think it extremely important to listen to what I’m telling myself, what I’m fearful of.  What am I afraid of in this situation, seems to be the question to ponder.

As I do that, I address each one with the wise voice. And tell them why they needn’t be so afraid.  “The truth is this,” I say.

But is that a waste of time?  Or worse, am I feeding the fears by listening to them?

It’s quite possible I have been over this before.  Debunked the fears before and they still managed to come back.

Maybe it’s better to just release them. That has been my practice these days. Every time I feel tension of any kind – whether it’s physical or emotional – I’m releasing it.

Chances are I don’t have to face the fear (let’s say 9 times out of 10) right away. It is more likely I’m anticipating something, not standing ready to do it.  So much of the fear is spent that way.  So I am free to release it right here, right now.  I don’t have to face that fear. I can let it go.  Release it.

It may be a different story if now is the time to face it. But I can still release what I can. Release what I’m feeling, ease the tension in my body, let go of what I’m thinking.  In calming any of those, I loosen the others.

The fear can be eased by talking to it, but maybe only for the moment. In continuing to release, I tell myself I don’t need them, I’m breaking the habit of chasing after them.

Release. Release. Release.  Remind myself all is well. There’s no need to be afraid. Breathe. Next.

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