Many moons ago I was at one of my emotional low points. I felt anxious, scared, and incredibly wounded. As per my usual M.O. when feeling overwhelmed, I found myself in my bed, under the covers... shutting the world out, obsessively thinking about what I could do to
"fix" my problem, and beating myself up for not being able to. For whatever reason on this occasion, I felt so overwhelmed and alone that I started imagining what it would feel like to have someone wrap their arms around me and tell me everything was going to be ok and that these problems were already solved. What happened next took me by surprise. I felt a flood of love and relief overtake my mind and my heart. This feeling lasted a few seconds. At that very moment, I realized I could feel better right NOW if I wanted to. I did it again. And again. And again. I took a moment that started as a few seconds, repeated it, and made it last as long as I could. That's when it dawned on me that I'm the one creating how I feel and I can change it on a dime if I want to. Yea...I know that's common sense but do we really leverage that power? Because I think if we really got that then would we spend so much time feeling bad? We do because we still subscribe to the belief that our situations are what's keeping us in our negative states of mind....not US! Ouch. That's a hard pill to swallow. Stay with me here.....
That's not to say that my situation changed right away (although it did rather quickly after my epiphany). And it's not to say that I lived in denial of my situation or my feelings about it. It's only to say that I started to realize I could make myself feel better NOW without anyone else's help or anything actually changing in my world. I'm not talking about "positive thinking". I'm talking about literally CHANGING how I felt in a split second and holding onto that feeling. It would still take me years to add the pivotal piece that was missing...and what I call a mind hack to more permanent results.
Whenever I start to work with someone I typically ask WHY they want something. They give me an answer, and I continue to ask why until I find out what they're really hoping for. Inevitably, in the end, no matter what their goal started out being, it always drills down to the same answer for everyone.....they just want to feel better than they currently feel. "If I can do/be/have (fill in the blank), then I will feel ____(better feeling)______ ."
What I'm about to say next might throw some people for a loop. Here goes......You don't have to wait for the change to happen in order to feel the way you would feel when it actually HAS happened. You can feel that way NOW. (Read that again!) And that's what I realized stuck in my bed so long ago. I imagined a future, conjured up the emotion, and mentally rehearsed that feeling way before the change took place in what we call "reality".
How we feel all starts with the thoughts in our heads. And it's the meaning we give to events/situations in our lives that cause us to feel better or worse. (See Arrow Tip #8) The truth of the matter is we can conjure up any feelings we want at will, without actually having anything on the "outside" of us change. Test it and see. Right now, think of any event....past, present or possible future, that has caused you a great deal of pain or anxiety. If you dwell on that long enough you can dredge up the feelings associated with those thoughts. Likewise, you can do the same with anything that has caused you a great deal of joy. When we're replaying a good or bad memory or even when we're stressing about a future event, this is exactly what we're doing...conjuring up feelings.
With that realization lying in my bed years ago I was able to get myself up and move forward. Anytime I felt bad I would use this tool to give myself some relief. You can do the same. But here's the REAL TRANSFORMATIONAL component that took me years to figure out and implement.....
Rather than using my technique only when I needed to get out of my emotional slumps, I started using it for everything I wanted to change in my life. I started PRACTICING feeling how I would feel if I ALREADY had the outcome I wanted. Every time I wanted a situation to change, I would practice the "end result" feeling. Sometimes I practiced it so much I wouldn't even care if anything changed because I already got what I wanted....to FEEL BETTER! That's all we're really after in the end. That changed everything for me.
Interestingly, the situations would inevitably change. This is because I shifted my focus from feeling bad about what was happening to feeling like I already had what I wanted. My mind would naturally seek out evidence and opportunities to validate these new thoughts. (See Arrow Tip #32)
I started making this practice an everyday habit.....imagining how I would feel if everything was going my way and working out for me, literally rewiring my brain. To this day, this is my TOP priority. This PRACTICE is so powerful it's been the key to up-leveling my mindset and improving my life experience. It's similar to the mental rehearsal I've spoken about before (see Arrow Tip #18) but with a nuanced difference. This is an "emotional feeling rehearsal" that may start with a thought but fixates on the feeling. Put short...I MENTALLY GIVE MYSELF whatever it is I want (in my mind) until I reach the FEELING/EMOTION of already having it. Then I hold that feeling for as long as possible and practice this over and over. I do this on a DAILY basis...practicing positive emotions as opposed to negative. Eventually, you'll find that you can fabricate feelings quickly and easily whenever you want to shift your moods.
Why is this important? Because we know in neurology "nerves that fire together wire together". This creates new neural pathways which create new patterns of thinking and feeling. We tend to think of habits as being associated with behaviors but our THOUGHTS and FEELINGS are habitual as well. We get stuck in negative thinking patterns and states of mind. We can change these patterns with practice.
When I started doing this for myself I wasn't even thinking of the science behind it. I was just trying to feel better....even if it was "just in my imagination". But, being a neurology-based practitioner, as I began to research why this was working for me, it made perfect sense. Don't discount the power of imagination. Just because something's not present to the senses doesn't mean the mind and body can't experience it as "real". Science and emerging brain research back this information up. The same areas of the brain are activated when something is imagined as do when something is actually physically experienced.
I'll leave you with a quote from Dr. Joe Dispenza who not only healed his own body from a traumatic spinal injury but has spent decades researching how meditation, imagining, and mental rehearsal affects the mind and body.
"Can you believe in a future that you can't see or experience with your senses yet but you've thought about enough times in your mind that your brain is literally changed to look like the event has already occurred? The latest research in plasticity says that's absolutely possible. Can you select a new possibility and begin to emotionally embrace that future every single day to such a degree that your body, as the unconscious mind does not know the difference between the experience in your life that's creating the emotion and the emotion that you're fabricating by thought alone, to the degree that you begin to signal new genes in new ways to change your BODY to look like the experience has already happened. The latest research in epigenetics says it's absolutely possible." ~Dr. Joe Dispenza
Whatever your goal is, decide how you would feel if you had already achieved it.
Go into your mind and imagine what it would feel like IF you already had the result you wanted.
Hold this feeling for as long as possible.
Practice this technique daily so you can rewire your neural pathways, create new thought/feeling patterns and learn to feel good whenever you choose to.
*Remember: YOU ARE UNSTOPPABLE.