Focusing Tip #358 – “Can we control how we feel?”

Focusing Tip #358 – “Can we control how we feel?”
November 27, 2012 Ann Weiser Cornell


“Can we change ourselves through trying to control how we feel?”

Graham writes: “Frequently when I need Focusing inspiration I watch that “Radical Acceptance” clip on YouTube where you say: ‘We cannot change ourselves through trying to control who we are and how we feel.’

“Today, this question came: What about all those people who sincerely state otherwise? All who write or buy those inspirational books who report they have indeed changed themselves by affirmations or suggestions or just doing it anyway?

“I am sometimes drawn to those inspirational methods, when something in me feels like it may never want to change and I’m in some seriously stuck place where others are demanding I respond now, not when my felt sense finally decides it’s OK. Personally, I don’t want to leave any part of myself out of my problem solving, even if it says it doesn’t ever want to take part – but the world gets ugly when I delay responding too long.”

Dear Graham,

Let’s start with that part of you that says it doesn’t EVER want to take part. Other people are demanding that you respond, but something inside you says No. What is the next move, from a Focusing perspective?

First, tell those other people that you need some time. Acknowledge they need your response soon and you will get it to them as soon as you can, but to operate with integrity and give their request the consideration it deserves, you need more time.

Next, set aside some intentional Focusing time to listen to the different aspects inside of you. Let’s start with the one that says No, the one that another part of you calls “seriously stuck.”

Yes, we are going to accept and respect it. But that does not mean turning away and giving up on our goals. Instead, we are going to sense it in the body and listen to what it is worried about… and in that process, it will change. It will soften. It will no longer be stamping its foot and shaking its head. You will start to feel its yes — what it does want for you. Action will become possible.

So… did we control it? Did we make it change? Absolutely not. But we did create the conditions in which its own change was most likely to happen.

Carl Rogers once said, “The curious paradox is when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

Those other methods do work, and it’s a blessing that there are so many methods of change in the world, to fit many types of temperament and readiness. I like Focusing. For me, it is the fastest method, faster than all the others, because there is no need to fight. (Fighting with ourselves makes change take longer.)

My dear friend and colleague Lucinda Hayden has created a course for advanced Focusers that combines the attentive respectful listening to the parts that say No to the inspirational positive visioning of attending to what we do want. She has a point about Focusing being “too passive.” In my terms I would say that Focusing is more than just listening to what feels bad — we also need to tap into the life energy in the bad feeling.

Lucinda calls her course “The Power of Wanting,” and we are offering it this January. You can read more about it here.


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *




Sign up here and get your first lesson right away.

Thank you! Your first lesson is on its way to your inbox. If you don't see it in the next couple hours, be sure to check your SPAM folder (or Promotions tab in GMail)