One day last week I woke up and had one of those mornings where i just couldn’t seem to get myself motivated to do anything. Things took longer than usual, and I certainly did not feel excited about the day. I just didn’t have any energy.
As soon as I had that conscious thought: “I have no energy,” I had a sudden realization.
Life is all about energy. We are meant to function with energy and ease. That’s our natural state. It wasn’t my state at the moment. What could I do?
I thought about my day so far. The minute I woke up, I began thinking about my “to do” list. It was long. I knew that it was going to be a very busy day. My thoughts went like this: I don’t see how I can get all this done. It’s just going to be too much. I’m already tired, and it isn’t even the normal time to get up yet! I think it’s going to be a hard day.”
I had chosen to “plug into” the energy of doubt, discouragement, and overwhelm.
I could have chosen to “plug into” a different source of energy. I could have chosen the energy of “faith and remembering”. I could have had thoughts like these: Today is a busy day, and there is much to be accomplished. I will need an additional source of power today - one that can help me recharge quickly. I will need to spend extra time in prayer, and I will need to ask Heavenly Father specifically to help me with these three main things on my list. I don’t know how to get them all done, but He does know, and He can help me.”
When we are discouraged, lacking energy, think about the energy placement. Have we “plugged in” to the right source of energy? The energy of faith is constantly available, and never fades.
Here’s a scriptural example. In 1 Nephi Chapter 3 Lehi talks to Nephi. He tells him that he has already asked Laman and Lemuel to go back to Jerusalem and get the plates from Laban. He says:
V. 5: And now behold, thy brothers murmur, saying it is a hard thing which I have required of them, but behold, I have not required it of them, but it is a commandment of the Lord.
Laman and Lemuel had “plugged into” the energy of “hard.” Nephi’s response, though, was different. He “plugged into” the energy of faith and remembering. “I will go and do,” he said. He knew that the Lord’s source of energy would enable him to accomplish the task.
We choose the energy.
How do we deal with emotional challenges? For most of us, the answer is simple: do the best you can. Muddle through it. Ignore the emotions you simply can’t manage to “use” effectively.
That really does not work well, and at a basic level, we all know that because we can feel it. That’s the stomach ache we feel when we’re worried about something. That’s the headache we get when we think of things that are overwhelming. That’s the pit we feel inside that prevents us from being able to actually move forward with a project and solutions.
What is the solution?
The path to peace begins with understanding your emotions.
Everyone wants to feel peaceful. Yet we all know that “things come up” in our lives that are upsetting, painful, and just plain hard to deal with.
What can we do about that?
Most of us try to fix the “problem.” We try to fix whatever happened so that we can feel peaceful again.
Yet………..sometimes we can’t immediately “fix” a problem. If I have a health problem, I may have to search long and hard for answers. If I am facing economic challenges, that’s a problem. It may be hard to figure out a solution. If I have a co-worker that is flat out difficult to deal with, that’s a problem too. I may or may not be able to find a way to resolve that problem.
Does this mean that if I can’t resolve or fix a problem immediately, that I will need to live with anger, frustration, overwhelming feelings, or fear?
Sadly, many people do just that.
I don’t like to feel that way. The good news is that we do not have to.
I work with many clients who have buried their feelings. They deal with problems as best they can, and then move on. What they experience, though, is that they are tense and uptight, worried, or agitated. They are stressed. Most people assume that it is just part of life, and that doing the best they can is going to someday bring peace. They try harder and harder. But - unfortunately - at some point in time, they can’t function any more. They start falling apart, and they know it. They just don’t know what to do about it.
We can do something about it. We can feel peace, in any situation. We can get rid of discouragement, fear, despair, depression, and anxiety. We have everything we need to do that. We just have to know how.
The path to peace begins with understanding our emotions. That is the only way to re-solve the problems we face in our lives. It is the only way to feel peace.
I always ask clients why they came to see me. Since I do craniosacral therapy, most of them come to see me with health concerns. They might have knee problems, or headaches, or lower back trouble.
It is important for me to know what they are concerned about, because I want to address that issue in treatment. Yet the solution to every kind of concern always begins with the same set of principles.
First, we must locate the problem, and clearly observe the details. If someone has a knee problem, I need to look at the person’s entire body as they lie on the table. I will look at the knee, and then notice the way the body is pulling around the knee. Is there tension between the knee and the foot? Are the muscles tight between the knee and the pelvis? Where are the stresses and strains on the body? How does the body function as a whole?
Second - I need to address the patterns of stress and strain found in the body. I know that I can apply very gentle touch to the client’s body, no more than if I were to put a nickel on their skin, that the tissue underneath my hands will soften. It will begin to relax. As the different body tissues can relax, they can move with more freedom. As the body begins to be able to move freely, the body can work within its own system to promote its ability to heal.
There are principles here that can be applied to every situation, not just in therapy sessions. First, we need to clearly observe the problem. We need to really understand what is going on. It’s important to make sure we notice the details, without bias or judgment.
In “life” problems, make sure we clearly identify the details of the problem. Suppose we have a co-worker that is a real problem. We could label him “mean,” or “rude,” or “controlling.” But that won’t solve the problem. We need to clearly identify the issue. It’s important to be concrete. “When we have staff meetings, my co-worker finds fault with my ideas, but he does not suggest workable solutions.” That’s observing clearly. Or, “my co-worker did not get his part of the project done on time, which meant that I did not have the time I needed to do my part on the project.” That’s clear.
Second, we treat the situation as one unit, but remember that there are many stresses and pulls on the problem. So -- when the co-worker did not get the project done on time, what happened as a result? Where are the strains? Well, you did not have time you needed to do your part of the project. What did that affect? You felt worried and anxious about things. You weren’t sure if you could hurry fast enough to meet the deadline. Perhaps you worried that you would be blamed if the project was late. Perhaps now you had to figure out how to explain to clients why the product they needed was not ready on time. This causes great anxiety. Perhaps you had to stay late at work to get your part done, which created tension in your family members. They expected you home. These things are all important to know, because they are part of the problem.
Third, don’t judge. This is the step that is most hard to do. “Oh, I should just be able to deal with things,” is counterproductive. “He will never change, and I can’t do anything about it,” is not helpful either.
When we understand our emotions, we can see we do have choices. We may wish that things could be different, but when we understand our emotions, we can move forward peacefully, and not carry the tension or stress with us.
Our products and classes are designed to show people how to reclaim emotional power and see those choices. We can learn how to feel peace in any circumstance, no matter what the circumstance may be.
Emotional peace brings freedom.
I have a very old file cabinet that I bought at a garage sale for $1. As you can tell, it is not a decorator’s dream.
I didn’t care what it looked like, though. I just needed a place to file papers. It now contains copies of our tax returns from many years back, warranties to appliances (some of which we don’t even own anymore), and all kinds of paperwork that we may need some day There are things I don’t use on a daily basis. I file them so that I don’t have to carry them around all the time.
The way things are filed in that cabinet really matters. It’s not enough to just put papers inside. They need to be filed in a way that makes them useable. I don’t want to have to spend hours and hours looking through every paper to find the one paper that I need. It’s important to choose a filing system that makes sense and is easy to understand.
Let’s liken that to our emotions. We all have emotions. Emotions give our lives meaning. We remember happy times at Christmas. We remember the funeral of a grandmother or grandfather with a touch of sadness -- but also with the feeling of connection, and a recognition of their importance in our lives. We don’t want to eliminate emotions from our lives, for if we did, we would eliminate our sense of “soul” connection.
At the same time, though, it is impractical to walk around with all of our emotions constantly within us. We’d explode -- and we can’t deal with sadness and despair and joy and love and anguish all at the same time………..!
Emotions serve a purpose. They help us define and interpret our experiences in terms of what they mean to us. We make decisions based off of the emotional meanings we give to things.
We want to be able to access our emotions, but we also want to be able to choose appropriate times to access the emotion that is useful at the moment. We need an emotional filing cabinet.
Learning to understand what emotions are, why they are important, and what they do for us, gives us the tools to develop our own emotional file cabinet. That will give us a sense of peace and security because we then have emotional power -- ready to go as needed!
The other day I watched a small child throw a tantrum. We had been trying to put on her coat, but she wanted to put her arm into the wrong sleeve of the jacket. When I switched the jacket around, she started yelling, because she thought I was taking it away from her. Even though I did my best to show her what was the real problem, she continued yelling and screaming, and had a meltdown. Every parent knows that scenario.
Why did she react that way? She was tired and simply needed sleep. She had not been willing to take a nap, and unfortunately, that left her unable to cope with other things. Was the solution to continue helping her to understand how to put her arms in her coat? No. We simply picked her up, forced her coat on her, and put her in the car -- where she promptly fell asleep in her carseat. Thank goodness! When she woke up, she was absolutely fine.
I love kids, and I think it is the neatest thing in the world to watch them and see them develop emotionally into adults. The same patterns that kids exhibit as toddlers can be seen in the way adults act, too -- just at a different level.
Many times we face situations where things just don’t go right. Things don’t fit -- kind of like the toddler’s coat would not go on right unless her arms were in the right sleeve. We react to the problem just like she did - we get upset, and have some small form of tantrum. Really, if we realized that what we really needed was simply a rest, or a way to regroup and refresh ourselves, we’d come back and the problem would be easy to solve. Or - if we could take a second, think about the problem, and look at the coat carefully, we could see that it was backwards, and simply turn it around. Or - we might realize that someone was right there who wanted to help us, but we had resisted that help because we wanted to do it our way. Etc.
The point is, we have to first understand our emotions. What are we feeling and thinking? What do we need to calm our emotions down so that we can effectively use our emotions to deal with the problem at hand?
Do I have to know exactly what kind of problem I have, and what it should be called, in order to locate the answer? Do I have to find someone who has been through my exact same experience in order to figure out the solution?
That would be unreasonable, and also impossible. No one has gone through your own particular set of dynamics with your own particular problem. No one. So -- is it hopeless? Are we alone?
The reason I teach principles is that there are common true things (principles) that are true in every problem or issue relating to our emotions. There are patterns. There are ways to make sure we are seeing clearly. There are ways to boil our experience down to manageable bits of emotions -- and to understand the emotions involved. It’s amazing when we understand the emotions involved by understanding how the principles work, we find our own solutions. The solution just appears once we know how to look.
It’s like creating a beautiful mosaic.
I think of it in terms of a beautiful mosaic. Our lives are built of experiences - some that we like, some that we don’t. Our emotions are intertwined with all of those experiences. Our emotions are the fabric of what the experience is made of. When we really understand that, we realize how important it is, then, to understand emotions, so that we can make sense of what we are experiencing. The experience then becomes meaningful, and important -- but without the pain or hurt or anger that we might experience when we have no understanding. That allows us to look at life as beautiful mosaic, one that is intertwined with understanding and peace. It creates emotional order and harmony.
How do we do this? How do we become “artists” in our own lives?
It’s really about learning how to use our emotions to see where we are. Then we make course corrections if we choose to do that. I call it a paradigm shift. A paradigm shift happens when we shift from one way of viewing a situation to another. The situation does not change. How we understand our emotions gives us the ability to shift our paradigm - to take stock, if you will, of where we are, where we want to be, where others are in the situation, and see how to map out our course of action to get to where we want to be.
Understanding the principles really does allow that to happen. Only when that happens will we be able to feel emotional peace. That makes all the difference.