My footsteps slap against the flagstone in the entryway of the house. Today, I am running through the house, light on the wings of inspiration. There is no feeling in this world that I love more. Like a mad scientist who has solved an equation that will alter the course of history, I have not eaten in hours. I have called nearly everyone I know. I have written emergency messages to my publisher. The world has opened up and I can see the alteration in the life path potentials. One by one, they change to reflect a future where suffering ends.
Exactly one year ago today, my world turned black when after the relationship turned sour, my husband left me to fly back to his home country. I have been grappling with anxiety attacks since that day. I have always hated the name “anxiety attack”. It doesn’t come close to describing the condition. It trivializes the experience in fact. An anxiety attack is in fact the worst emotional experience a person can have. The universe at large becomes an invisible demon that sucks the air from your lungs. It bites into your chest and the poison it lets into your veins is doom. Doom crawls its way through every artery as if it had claws and with every inch, it rips you open to the degree that you feel as if you are bleeding internally. You feel as if you are being internally ripped open at the same time as being externally closed off. A person can usually feel the future ahead of them. But with an anxiety attack, you cannot. Instead of the present moment being a space of freedom from pain, it is a prison of pain. The future ceases to exist and you are stuck in a timeless, isolated purgatory with no promise of an end.
As many of you know, I have created a process for emotional healing which I have decided to call The Completion Process. It is how I have been curing myself of PTSD. But three days ago, for the very first time, I used the process and it didn’t work. I was stuck fluctuating in and out of panic attacks for five hours. Naturally, like any artist/creator I sank into despair about the entire creation. I had thoughts about quitting my career and setting my book on fire. I was ready to trash my life. It may not be rational, but rationality has no dominion in the realm of emotion. While in process, I dissociated from myself. I dis-identified with myself to the degree that I could now simply watch my thoughts and emotions. But from that vantage point, I could see something that shocked me.
I could clearly see that I was dealing with 2 layers of anxiety. I could clearly see that because of the top layer of anxiety, I could not get through to the bottom layer. Intuitively, I did a revolutionary thing. I treated the top layer of anxiety about anxiety with the Completion Process. And what it brought me to was a memory where the actual trauma I incurred was learning that anxiety itself was not ok. By resolving this trauma, by making anxiety ok to feel, I was able to get into the deeper layer of anxiety and resolve it completely. I have not had an anxiety attack in three days. Which feels like nothing short of a miracle. What I found is that sometimes, we must heal the trauma related to it not being ok to feel a certain emotion before we can heal any trauma associated with that specific emotion.
In the days that followed, I realized that I had “accidentally” tripped upon the way to crack the emotional code. As a result, I have made the Completion Process leak proof. This finding will revolutionize the way we deal with trauma and addiction and chronic pain to name a few. I have solved the puzzle of the condition “nothing ever works to make me feel better”. I called an emergency online training of sorts with the practitioners I have trained to facilitate this process in order to teach them this new dimension to the process. I have also created an Ask Teal episode that is coming out this weekend to coincide with this finding.
It is tempting to think that it is an objective truth that certain emotions are bad and certain emotions are good based on their level of discomfort. But what we must realize is that our judgment about the goodness or badness of an emotion has entirely to do with how we are socialized to think about certain emotions. It is possible for us to be taught that a positive emotion such as excitement is bad because it will lead to disappointment. Or a negative emotion such as sadness is good because we have been raised in a culture that sees sadness as beautiful or indicative of real love. The way we have been socialized to see specific emotions, determines our relationship with them and thus our overall experience with them. In other words our relationship with certain emotions is good and our relationship with other emotions is bad.
It is normal to want to feel good. The basic survival instinct is to shy away from pain and go towards pleasure. This is not in and of itself a problem. This instinct in and of itself does not cause suffering. Suffering is caused when instead of going towards pleasure we resist the pain. And this is what we have done with emotion.
In the upcoming video being released this Saturday, I explained that in the back of your head there is a control switch, like a light switch on a wall. Except instead of light and dark, this control switch controls good and bad. This switch is designed to be triggered and switch on whenever you encounter something that you have judged as bad. If you register something as bad, you register it as a threat. So when this switch goes on because it thinks you are encountering something bad, your body responds to that threat by going into fight or flight mode. You either try to escape from or fight with that thing. Escaping from something and or fighting with something is nothing more than an attempt to control that thing.
The problem is, when we judge certain emotions as bad, this control switch is triggered by those emotions. For this reason we could see this switch in our minds as an emotional control switch. We immediately try to control these emotions we see as bad by escaping from or fighting with them. The thoughts we think about the emotion we are having, cause us to immediately add emotion to emotion and this is like adding kerosene to a fire that is already blazing. No matter what we do to feel better, nothing works.
For example, lets say growing up when you expressed anxiety your parent turned to you in an exasperated manner and said “stop being such a fraidy cat, there’s no reason to act like this, come on now”. You would have gotten the message through that interaction that anxiety is bad and what’s worse that if you feel it, there must be something wrong with you. In the future if you feel anxious, your control switch will turn on because you have been conditioned to see anxiety as bad. You will start to fear yourself because you’ll feel like something is wrong with you for feeling anxiety and therefore, you will feel anxious about feeling anxious. This is the way panic and anxiety disorders develop.
The way to know that your emotional control switch has turned on is that you will start to think thoughts specifically about feeling an emotion and subsequently begin to feel emotion about feeling an emotion. In other words, you will start to feel bad about feeling bad or feel bad about feeling good. For example, you’ll feel angry about feeling depressed or anxious about feeling anxious or guilty for feeling happy or afraid about feeling anger or sad about feeling depressed. This is sometimes called a secondary emotion. You will also immediately revert to all of the emotional control strategies that are linked to that control switch such as drinking alcohol, reading a book, exercising, eating, shooting up heroine, distracting yourself, obsessively writing affirmations, positively focusing, or arguing with and contradicting your negative thoughts; all of which are an attempt to make the emotion go away because you have judged it as bad.
This is the reason that it doesn’t work to positively focus negative emotion away. Control in and of itself is resistance. And whatever we resist, persists. So, the minute positive focus becomes a tool of maintaining control over emotion, it now serves resistance instead of allowing or deliberate creation.
If you continue to find that nothing ever works to help you feel better no matter how hard you try, it is because you are approaching your life from that very angle. The angle that you must feel better because whatever you are feeling is not ok. You are approaching the way you feel from the angle of “this is bad and so it has to change”. You have begun to think thoughts like, “what have I done to deserve this or what is wrong with me or I wish I didn’t feel like this or I can’t handle this or why am I like this or the very worst… I shouldn’t feel like this.”
Sometimes the secondary emotion we feel (the emotion that is the byproduct of our resistance to feeling the way we feel) is in fact the reflection of trauma that needs to be resolved. The trauma that was experienced when we learned it wasn’t ok to feel a certain emotion. In this case, instead of asking ourselves, “When was the first time I felt this way”, we need to ask ourselves “When was the first time I learned it wasn’t ok to feel this way.” If we apply the Completion Process to this memory, we can resolve our resistance to the emotion so that we can actually succeed with the Completion Process relative to our deeper emotional trauma.
If most of us are honest, our reason for doing any kind of self-healing process, including the Completion Process, is to try to control the way we feel. We do this when we see some emotions as good and some as bad. But in fact emotions are not good or bad inherently. Those are judgments about the emotions. Like tides, they come and go in response to things we think or say or do or encounter in the world. Our emotions are simply part of us. The reason it can seem like nothing we ever do to feel better works, is that doing something with the intention to escape from feeling because you see it as bad, is in and of itself a self hating mission.
Painful emotions only become chronic (as in nothing you do ever works to make you feel better) if your emotional control switch is switched on and as such you are in resistance to the emotion you feel. This is the difference between temporary discomfort and long-term suffering. That being said, even though you, like me, have most likely adopted spiritual practice as a way to feel better, it is my hope that your own practice eventually brings you to the point where feeling better is no longer your goal. It is my hope that your new goal becomes to develop a beautifully rich and positive relationship with feeling itself, no matter what emotion it is that you happen to be feeling.
Today, I have a message for the world. Today, I do not feel the impact of the arrows shot at me. As is always the case with a truly great cause, my path through life feels bigger than me today. This is the key to putting yourself out into the world when tomatoes are thrown and people call for your public execution. You have to see that life is bigger than your life. Under the arc of the sky that contains this tiny world in a never-ending scope of galaxy, you must see the faces of the people in your vision of the future smiling. Smiling as they live into the benefit of your bravery. You must see their faces clearer than the faces of those who scream at you to end your march forward. You must walk with grace, with your head held high, through a battlefield of cowardice. Let the blood you spill there, bless the ground with the bravery it carries through your veins. Let it kiss and love the earth. Let it serve as fertilizer for the future. It is not a sacrifice when you love enough. And when you lose the vision of your faith behind a veil of illusion that tells you that you are separate from those faces, when you are tempted to let them fade in favor of your individual life, stand and walk. Your body pierced by their arrows, your ears needled by their words, stand and walk through that battlefield of cowardice. Set that veil on fire. Let your bravery burn it like a flag belonging to your enemy. Watch it burn until you can once again see their faces. Until you can once again feel the sovereignty of your voice screaming above the crowd “I will never surrender for life is bigger than my life.”