Your feeling is the period at the end of the sentence. It’s the result of what you thought to a conclusive state, and it is the only way things can manifest in your life. The way to gain control of your feelings is to return to your second position and re-think what you’ve thought there because your feeling is the automatic result of what you’ve thought deeply enough about to become convinced.
Vicki had a job as a caretaker for seniors. She had spent much of her life learning nursing and now, eldercare. She was an intelligent, kind, humorous and genuine woman, and her complaint was that she never earned enough money. She lived from paycheck to paycheck, and were it not for the help of family and friends, she’d be really stuck making ends meet.
Vicki was the eldest of six children in her family. She began to work in the family’s grocery store at age 12, and soon after that, became the substitute for her mother in providing care for her three brothers and two sisters. If mom was at the store, Vicki worked at home. If mom was at home, Vicki did her mom’s job at the store. She’d had adult responsibilities very early in her life.
As a result of the sense of burden that she’d carried for so long she no longer remembered when it all began, Vicki began to gain weight in her teens. By the time she was an adult, the burdensome sense she carried appeared all over her body as obesity.
Her parents began to berate her about losing weight. All her attempts failed, because her weight was not the cause. Her feelings about being overburdened and overly responsible were the cause, and until they were changed, she could never be successful at weight loss.
In addition, she felt misunderstood and unloved by her brothers and sisters. Vicki had become bossy in her childlike attempts to get them to do what her mother had insisted she make them do. They only saw her bossiness, not the hand of her mother behind her. She was labeled, criticized and slandered by them. She had feelings of rejection, lack of love, self doubt and insecurity about her decisions because of this experience. When you add these to the sense of burden that cause her overweight, Vicki carried a big bucketful of bad feelings.
What should she do to get out of this mess? She should do the same thing you should do to get out of your mess:
1. Examine the feelings one at a time. In Vicki’s case, there were:
a feeling of overburdenness
lack of love
discomfort under criticism
2. Look closely at the first feeling. Write about it. Talk about it with friends. Join a group (or develop one) with friends who also suffer from the same problem. Don’t look for commiseration in the group; look for solutions to get past the feelings. Make a list of as many questions as you can think to ask yourself about the feeling. Here are a few examples:
When did I first feel this feeling?
What does it do inside my mind when I feel it?
What does it do inside my body when I feel it?
Do I think it’s changeless?
Why is it changeless?
Or, do I think I can change it?
What do I most dislike about this feeling?
3. Work on forgiving the guilty parties. We’ve all be told to “forgive and forget.” Just how do we do this? One method is to write down all the reasons why the offending person(s) might have thought they were right to criticize you, for example. Many people believe that burning the papers on which you wrote is a way of putting an end to your bad feelings. Another could be to have a friend sit in front of you acting as if they were that person, and you tell them face to face all the things you forgive them for.
4. Once you have processed through the first three steps, you’ll need a new plan. You’ll need to create the “panther” that takes place of the “giraffe” that we talked about in the previous chapter. Right now, you have habitual thoughts and a habitual feeling in place. We need to replace your habitual thought with something new which contains in itself the seeds for the new feeling you want in the place of the old one. As an example, if Vicki has been thinking “Those little brats! They have no idea how Mom pushes me to push them. I hate their whining and complaining and blaming me.” This kind of thinking will create whining, complaining and blame. Vicki needs a new thought. She can decide that every time one of her brothers or sisters starts up, she will sidestep the issue by saying “I’m just doing what mom expects of me. You can speak to her about it when she gets home. I’ve now done my job. If you don’t get your homework done before she arrives, it won’t be my fault. I’ll be sitting pretty feeling good about doing my part.” This kind of thinking will create feelings of self-righteousness and harmony.
5. Practice. Practice. Practice. Once you have decided to clean up your uncomfortable feelings, wisdom will create bountiful opportunities for you to be able to practice, practice, practice. Look for the opportunities consciously and be grateful in your heart that they have arrived to help you establish more harmony in your life.
6. When you feel that you are most complete with one erring feeling, begin this same process with the next one on the list. Self-correction is such a blessing for a life well-lived, happily experienced, and sweetly satisfied. It is your birthright to experience success. We do, however, have to do the work of changing our feelings and giving our conscience a deserved break to get there. The harder you work, the faster you’ll arrive.