contentsIntroduction IX Part I: An Overview 1. Emotions are the Keys to Understanding 1 2. How to Replace Sadness, Anger, and Fear with Joy, Love, and Peace 27 Part II: Your Five Tools 3. Emotions: The Heart of the Matter 51 4. Thoughts: Rewire Your Thinking 79 5. Thoughts: High-Voltage Rewiring 101 6. Intuition: The Direct Line to the Self 123 7. Speech: The Four Rules of Communication 143 8. Speech: Dealing with Differences 167 9. Action: Make and Take Small Steps 19110. Action: Waging the Battle Against Old Habits 219 Part III: Living It 11. Moving from Sadness to Joy 257 12. Moving from Anger to Love 289 13. Moving from Fear to Peace 313Conclusion 337Acknowledgments 339Appendix 341Bibliography and Further Reading 343Reading Group Guide 345Index 349 VII
1 Emotions are the Keys to Understanding Sadness & Joy Anger & Love Fear & Peace Attitude Reconstruction proposes that unhappiness, suffering, andmisery are rooted in unexpressed sadness, anger, and fear. It also saysthat we can systematically create their counterparts (joy, love, and peace,respectively) and find the happiness we seek. “But wait,” you’re probablysaying, “how can all these complicated feelings be reduced to three pairsof emotions?” If you’re willing to stay open to the possibility, this seem-ingly radical idea will soon resonate with your own personal experienceas it has with my own, and with that of my many clients. 1
2 AN OVERVIEW The Six Emotions Sadness & Joy Anger & Love Fear & Peace Each Emotion Feels and Looks Different Across all cultures, human beings share the same emotions. They’vebeen the same throughout the history of Homo sapiens. Cave peopleexperienced fear, anger, and sadness as well as joy, love, and peace. Theold, the young, and everyone in between are capable of feeling them all. Emotions come and go, continually shifting like the weather. Theyare spontaneous physical reactions to what we experience throughout theday. We feel them as pure sensations in our bodies. They have no words.Just look at the word “emotion,” and you can see “e-motion,” or “energy inmotion.” Each emotion manifests as a different sensation in our bodies. Bodily Sensations Associated with Each Emotion Sadness Joy Anger Love Fear Peaceheavy heart blissful hot warm cold relaxedconstricted expansive flushed open tense tranquil chest muscles weak sparkling tight full shivering content muscles low energy carefree aggressive soft trembling quiettight throat active cold stare smiling stomach perceptive knots slow exuberant striking embracing elevated alert out pulse lethargic light explosive connected agitated calm When we feel sadness, we feel cold and slow, and we find it hard tospeak without crying. With joy, we feel exuberant and bouncy. Anger makes
EMOTIONS ARE THE KEYS TO UNDERSTANDING 3us feel hot, tight, and ready to strike out and explode. With love, we feelopen and warm. When we feel fear, we get cold, shiver all over, and feel ourinnards constrict. With peace, we feel tranquil and relaxed, yet alert. The way energy moves in our bodies is different for each emotiontoo. Sadness weighs us down. Joy’s energy moves upward, causing us tofeel elated. When we feel angry, the energy pushes outward, and we lashout and push people away. With love, the energy pulls inward, and wedraw others near. When we experience fear, the energy is erratic, and wefeel jumpy and wired, or frozen and immobilized. When we experiencepeace, we feel calm, still, and collected. Each emotion is also reflected differently in our faces, posture, move-ments, tone, and demeanor. Even without hearing any words, it’s fairly easyto tell the difference between someone who is bouncing around just havingbeen accepted to the university of his choice, and someone who is runninglate and can’t find some important papers she needs for her meeting. Thephysical expressions of each emotion are distinctive and easily recognizable. Another way to understand the distinction between the emotions isto think about how each is expressed physically. Each Emotion’s Physical ExpressionSadness Joy Anger Love Fear Peace crying smiling aggressive open agitated relaxed sobbing bubbling pushing soft shivering silent weeping sparkling pounding smiling shuddering still wailing exuberant stomping sweet trembling alert laughter laughterfrowning exhilarated biting embracing nervous aware yells laughter crying yelling undefended quivering smiling caustic reaching jiggly legs laughter out
4 AN OVERVIEW Emotions and Feelings We affix many different names to the same emotions. Emptiness,helplessness, arrogance, confusion, impatience, jealousy—these arejust different labels we attach to the same wordless physical sensation,depending on our history and circumstances. The same is true for bliss,contentment, delight, and ecstasy. Feelings are mental. Emotions arephysical. An example will bring this concept into focus. Say you’ve beenunder the weather but dread going to the doctor. Your stomach is inknots, and your hands are freezing. You start projecting into the future.“What if I have cancer? I won’t be able to work. What will happen tothe children?” You might call what you’re feeling anxiety or nervousness,but what you are experiencing on a physical level is the emotion of fear.It’s just pure energy. It doesn’t matter whether the source of your fear is a potentialdiagnosis, meeting your future in-laws for the first time, or giving a pre-sentation in class. And it doesn’t matter whether you call what you’refeeling anxiety, stress, agitation, or panic—you’re dealing with fear. Examples of Some Feelings Associated with Each EmotionSadness Joy Anger Love Fear Peaceunlovable lovable jealous open worried relaxed lonely confident dissatisfied satisfied nervous calm needy secure intolerant tolerant stressed productive guilty self- resentful kind indecisive stable accepting small strong disgusted grateful confused committedincapable powerful conceited humble impatient patient glum delighted stingy generous rigid flexible It’s easier to deal with what we’re feeling if we identify the underly-ing emotions. Is it sadness, anger, fear? Joy, love, peace?
EMOTIONS ARE THE KEYS TO UNDERSTANDING 5 Emotions Are Triggered by Specific Events Everyone experiences all six emotions. They are normal reactions tospecific events. As we go through life, big and little things happen thatnaturally evoke these different sensations in our bodies. Whether it’s ascene in a movie, gossip about a friend, or an upheaval at work, our emo-tions are continually triggered by the events in our lives. The followingtable shows you the types of situations that generate each emotion. Emotional Triggers Emotions Specific Events Sadness losses and hurts Joy achievements, good news, creative express, beauty Anger injustices and violations Love kindness, caring, generosity, understanding Fear threats to our survival Peace safety, comfort, security, serenity We often experience more than one emotion at a time, and some-times one emotion masks another. For example, imagine that someoneyou admire calls you “careless.” That feels like a violation and naturallyprovokes anger. But it also hurts to be called names, so buried under-neath your anger is probably sadness. If, while blasting you, the personexpresses hostility, you probably feel threatened and experience fear aswell. Why We Resist Our Emotions As babies, we took delight in the world around us and marveled atbeing alive. We dealt with upsets by unabashedly expressing our emo-tions, then swiftly returned to our trusting, playful selves. How simpleand great life was. As adults, most of us don’t resist laughing at some-
6 AN OVERVIEWthing funny, hugging our children, or experiencing a moment of peacewhile hiking in nature. However, we very much want to avoid crying,expressing anger, and showing fear. Expressing these emotions feels for-eign because we’ve “forgotten” that they are an integral part of beinghuman. As we grew up, our families, peers, schools, religious institutions—inshort, our entire culture—shaped us to fit into societal norms. Constraintson time and place, as well as other people’s own unexpressed emotions,prevented us from directly showing what we were feeling inside. Some-times we were shamed out of vocalizing what we were feeling. We modeled ourselves on those around us. Instead of expressing ouremotions, we developed defenses against them and counterproductiveways of compensating. While it may not be appropriate for a grownwoman to throw a loud tantrum when the grocery store is out of herfavorite kind of cookie, the campaign against showing emotions hasbeen taken much too far. There are precious few situations in our societywhere it is okay to cry, stomp, or physically show that we are afraid byshivering. We’ve all gotten the messages: “Tears equal weakness,” “Don’twear your heart on your sleeve,” “Stop crying or I’ll give you somethingto cry about,” or even “Die before cry.” I’ve witnessed a truly caring wifein my office attempt to comfort her husband, who was finally expressinghis grief, by saying, “Honey, don’t cry.” Part of being alive is experiencing countless emotionally chargedevents every day. Usually, it doesn’t even cross our minds that we couldexpress the emotions we’re feeling. If crying is taboo, expressing healthyanger is also forbidden. We were discouraged from showing anger bybeing told, “Put a lid on it,”“Girls aren’t pretty when they’re angry,”“Wedon’t yell in this family,” “You’re upsetting me,” or “You’re acting crazyagain.” In a similar fashion, expressing fear was summarily squashedwith messages such as “Don’t be a scaredy-cat,” “You chicken,” “There’snothing to be afraid of,” or “Snap out of it!” And we don’t stifle only the emotions that we regard as negative orunpleasant. To a lesser degree, we learned to downplay the emotionsof joy, love, and peace. As children, our unbridled laughter was often
EMOTIONS ARE THE KEYS TO UNDERSTANDING 7disruptive to the busy routines of adults. When we squealed in sheerdelight, our parents’ reaction was often a firm command to tone it down.And when we felt peaceful and content to just stare at the clouds, wemay have received messages such as “Don’t just sit there” or “Can’t youfind something better to do?” Good moments immediately turned flat.Recently, I saw a youngster’s utter joy at being served a huge plate ofpancakes extinguished by swift reprimands to “behave” from both par-ents. Overt messages like these, plus observations of those around us,taught us to fit in by camouflaging rather than expressing our emotionsnaturally and physically. What We Do Instead of Expressing Our Emotions Because we don’t allow ourselves to express our sadness, anger, orfear physically and constructively, the emotional energy gets stuck insideof us, along with the specific event that triggered it. Our unexpressedemotions act like a wad of gunk, jamming up our ability to process theexperience. Some people have described this to me as feeling numb orbeing on autopilot. When we don’t process our emotions in a healthyway, our minds resort to well-worn destructive attitudes that are reflectedin how we feel, think, speak, and act. The ways we mask and divert our emotions are all too familiar. Forinstance, maybe your father came home after holding his anger in allday long, mumbled something about the “idiots” he had to take ordersfrom, and then, after a drink or two, lashed out at his family members,the people he felt safest with. Maybe he numbed his pain by staringmindlessly at the television for hours each night. The fact that he wassuffering from high blood pressure and other medical conditions relatedto stifling his emotions did nothing to improve his state of mind. Whenwe don’t express our emotions physically and constructively, we compen-sate in predictable, destructive ways.
8 AN OVERVIEW Your Emotional Constitution Some babies are born mellow, some fussy, and some highly reac-tive. We each come into this world with an emotional predisposition,a temperament that colors how we interpret our experience. Sadness isdominant in some of us, others of us have a tendency to lead with anger,and others are ruled by fear. Imagine that your emotional constitutionis comprised of three buckets. One bucket holds sadness, another anger,and a third fear. Some people’s fear bucket is overflowing, while theirother buckets are nearly empty; for others, two may be overflowing; forstill others, all three buckets are relatively full. When you look at yourselfand others from this perspective, it’s easier to understand why peoplebehave the way they do. You can think of your emotional constitution as being like eye color.If you look at the color of a mother’s and father’s eyes, you can usuallymake an educated guess about what color their child’s eyes will be. Inthe same way, your parents’ emotional constitutions have an impact onwhich emotions are strongest for you. If both of your parents tend to bepassive (i.e., have more sadness than anger or fear), there’s a good chanceyou’ll be passive and experience a lot of sadness too. If one parent hasan angry constitution and the other a fearful one, you could have eitherparent’s constitution or a combination of the two. Though everybody is capable of feeling all six emotions at anymoment, each of us has a propensity to feel some emotions more thanothers. Take my mom. Her usual reaction to any event was fear; sheconstantly worried about my dad, my brother, me, and almost anything,bless her heart. Whenever my father was late getting home from workand my mother heard on the radio that there had been an accident onthe bridge near our house, she immediately envisioned that somethinghorrible had happened to my dad. She was what I call a “fear gal.” Imagine a shy college student who is turned down by a dozen sorori-ties. It’s a hurt or loss, so of course she feels sadness. If she doesn’t allowherself to acknowledge her pain and cry constructively, she focuses on feel-ing rejected and begins to view herself harshly. Her unexpressed sadness
EMOTIONS ARE THE KEYS TO UNDERSTANDING 9manifests in feeling unworthy, which shows up in her thoughts, words,and actions. If she doesn’t handle her sadness in a healthy way, her lowself-esteem can become a chronic condition that colors her every move. Some of us will recognize ourselves in my description of my mother;others will identify with the college student, and still others will seethemselves reflected in the angry father. The idea of an emotional con-stitution has its parallel in Ayurvedic medicine, the ancient system ofself-health and healing from India. Ayurveda proposes that all aspectsof nature can be viewed in terms of three elements—Kapha, Pitta, andVata—which correlate with the emotions of sadness, anger, and fear. This quiz will give you a picture of the levels of dominance of sadness,anger, and fear in your emotional constitution. If you are going througha particularly stressful time, your results might be slightly skewed, but ingeneral, they will reflect your basic emotional constitution. Be as honestwith yourself as possible in taking the quiz.
10 AN OVERVIEW The Quick Questionnaire: What’s My Emotional Constitution? Using the scale below, rate yourself from 1 to 5 on each item. 1 = almost never 2 = occasionally 3 = about half the time 4 = often 5 = almost always Score Set TotalSet A1. I feel unworthy. ____2. I depend on others for approval. ____3. I make negative self-judgments. ____4. I am passive. ____ ____Set B1. I focus on the outside world. ____2. I don’t accept people and situations as they are. ____3. I make negative judgments of what is. ____4. I am selfish. ____ ____Set C1. I focus on the future or past. ____2. I overgeneralize. ____3. I lose sight of what is true or real. ____4. I attempt to control. ____ ____Using the same scale, rate how often you feel: Sadness____ Anger____ Fear____ Joy____ Love____ Peace____
EMOTIONS ARE THE KEYS TO UNDERSTANDING 11 Interpreting Your Results Add up your numbers for each set of questions. The actual numericaltotal for each set is not as significant as the way the three totals compareto one another. If your highest total is for the first four questions (SetA), your predominant emotion is sadness. If your highest score is for thesecond four questions (Set B), your strongest emotion is anger. If yourhighest total is for the last four questions (Set C), your ruling emotion isfear. If your scores are equally high for two sets of questions, you have twodominant emotions. My friend Sally is a perfect example of a personwith a fear-sadness constitution. I’ve rarely ever seen her angry; she’s toobusy getting things done, brooding, and putting an inordinate amount ofpressure on herself. Some folks have a constitution equally proportionedamong the three emotions. They have a sadness-anger-fear constitutionand at any moment may lead with any of these three emotions. Look at how you rated yourself on sadness, anger, and fear at the bot-tom of the page. Do these scores correlate with the three totals above?And how about your scores for joy, love, and peace? If your rating for joyis high, your score for its opposite, sadness, will probably be low. Like-wise, if your rating for love is high, your score for its opposite, anger, willprobably be low. And if your rating for peace is high, your score for itsopposite, fear, is usually low. Your answers reflect the emotions you feel as you deal with life’stwists and turns. When you hear that your partner got in another fenderbender, do you feel blue (sadness)? Do you tend to lash out at him aboutwhat a reckless driver he is (anger)? Or do you freak out and fret thatshe’ll lose her license (fear)? Emotions Drive the Mind Each emotion steers the mind in a certain predictable direction.Thatis to say, our emotions determine where we focus our attention.
12 AN OVERVIEW The Focus Associated with Each Emotion Emotions Focus Sadness & Joy Yourself Anger & Love Other people and situations Fear & Peace Time Each pair of emotions automatically directs your attention towardyourself, other people and situations, or time. Whether you view thefocus destructively or constructively depends on the emotion you’reexperiencing. The first pair of emotions—sadness and joy—turns our attentioninward onto ourselves. When we experience sadness in our bodies butdon’t express it physically, our minds immediately and automaticallystart to entertain less than positive thoughts about ourselves. We mightregard ourselves as stupid, inadequate, and unlovable. Reciprocally, whenwe experience joy, we naturally feel good about ourselves. In momentsof joy, we know in every cell of our bodies that we’re living life to its fullpotential. Remember how truly ecstatic you felt when you finished run-ning your first marathon (or another goal you prepared for)? What didyou know about yourself then? You probably felt fabulous about yourown abilities and knew you could handle whatever would arise. The focus of the emotions of anger and love is outward. They moveour attention to other people and situations. We direct our unprocessedanger externally by finger-pointing and making negative judgments.Unexpressed anger makes us feel self-righteous, behaving as if our wayis the only way. Conversely, when feeling love, we focus outward as well,but we respect and appreciate people and situations, and feel expansive,receptive, and open. We’re attuned to what is helpful, compassionate,and kind—and we do those things. Fear and peace turn our focus to time. Unexpressed fear propels usout of the present moment and into a dreaded future or dwelled-upon
EMOTIONS ARE THE KEYS TO UNDERSTANDING 13past. If not dealt with, fear distorts our perspective on reality so thatwe exaggerate dangers and minimize the potential for safety. We over-generalize, using such words as “always,” “never,” “everybody,” and “noone.” In contrast, when we feel peace, our attention fully resides in thepresent moment. We think in terms of specifics and when we don’t needto think, our minds are still. We feel safe, knowing we’ll be all right nomatter what. Mental Tendencies Each emotion’s focus carries with it four mental tendencies or corebeliefs. How did I come up with these? I observed the entire range ofpeople’s behaviors as they experienced each emotion. I found that allthe ways they felt, thought, spoke, and acted fell into a few categories. Iconcluded that all of our destructive attitudes boil down to twelve men-tal tendencies. The four associated with sadness are about ourselves, thefour associated with anger are about other people and situations, and thefour associated with fear are about time. Similarly, all our constructive attitudes can be reduced to twelveopposing mental tendencies. There are four about ourselves associatedwith joy; four about other people and situations associated with love;and four about time associated with peace. These mental tendencies,constructive and destructive, are the default settings that define our per-sonalities, actions, and reactions.
14 The Twelve Pairs of Mental Tendencies Focus: Yourself Sadness Joy Unworthy Worthy Dependent on others for approval Self-reliant Judge self negatively Appreciate and respect self Passive Speak up and take action Focus: People and Situations Anger Love Focus on the outside world Open-hearted Don’t accept people and situations Accept people and situations Make negative judgments of what is Appreciate and respect what is Selfish Selfless giving Focus: Time Fear Peace Live in the future or past Reside in the present Overgeneralize Stay specific Lose sight of what is true or real Keep sight of what is true or real Attempt to control Observe, enjoy, allow, and participate I’ve already explained that fear and peace bring our mental focusonto time, but how we view the present, past, or future when feelingthese two emotions is very different. When we feel fear and don’t expressthe emotional energy physically, we lose sight of reality—what we knewvery clearly at an earlier time and place. For example, you might lose
EMOTIONS ARE THE KEYS TO UNDERSTANDING 15sight of the fact that the fancy dessert you’re about to eat has at least sixhundred calories and is counter to your goal of losing ten pounds. Oryou might forget that if you stay up until two in the morning playing onthe computer, you won’t feel sharp for your early-morning staff meeting.Conversely, when you feel peace, your mental focus is still on time, butyou remember reality. You don’t impulsively give into the temptation toeat the fancy dessert. You remember that you need at least seven hoursof sleep to feel your best, so you are in bed by eleven. Our mental tendencies manifest in how we think, speak, and act.They perpetuate our emotions, both constructive and destructive. Forexample, if you think well of every person you meet and volunteer read-ily to help others, you will feel love. Reciprocally, if you primarily dwellon the half-empty and feel justified in rebelling against the law, you willperpetuate your anger. The Mental Tendencies Associated with Sadness, Anger, and Fear In the next pages, you’ll find sections of the blueprint showing themental tendencies, feelings, words, and actions associated with sadness,anger, and fear. First is the part for sadness.Emotion Focus DESTRUCTIVE MENTAL TENDENCIESExpression Attitude FEELINGS WORDS ACTIONS UNWORTHY S Empty Inadequate • I’m no good. • I’m not enough. • Think and talk poorly about yourself • Create false impressions A Unlovable • There’s something wrong with me. • Feel disconnected from who you are D YOURSELF Lonely DEPEND ON OTHERS FOR APPROVAL • Show me you love me. • Please others at own expense N Insecure • I’ll do anything to keep you happy. • Cling to other people • Tell me I’m okay. • Seek validation and compliments Needy E Dont JUDGE SELF NEGATIVELY S Self-loathing • I should have known or done better. • Set unrealistic expectations for honor Stupid • I’m stupid. I’m pathetic. yourself • I hate myself when I make mistakes. • Put yourself down and beat self up Ashamed S yourself • Demand perfection from yourself PASSIVEcrying Helpless • Poor me. • Play the submissive victimsobbing • I can’t do anything about this. • Fail to follow through Incapablewailing • I don’t know how. It’s bigger than me. • Avoid confrontation Unassertivefrowning
16 The mental tendencies associated with sadness boil down to thefour ways we don’t honor ourselves. People with sadness constitutionsare intimately familiar with these mental tendencies. Mental tendencynumber one is to believe deep down that you are unworthy, incompetent,and empty. You feel bad about yourself regardless of what you have, looklike, or achieve. In essence, this mental tendency robs us of the knowl-edge that we are whole and complete, no matter what. This is becausewe confuse our pure, inner selves—what remains constant—with ouraccomplishments, qualities, and characteristics. Second, because we don’t have a solid sense of our true worth, welook to others for validation and satisfaction. We sacrifice our ownwants, needs, and beliefs to keep other people happy, usually because wedon’t want them to have a negative emotional reaction. We need themto approve of us and not reject or abandon us. The third mental tendency we have when in the grip of sadness is tojudge ourselves negatively and feel bad about what we have done, said, orthought. We’re mercilessly hard on ourselves, especially when we makea mistake. “I’m a loser.” “I’m dumb.” Our negative assessments are lacedwith unrealistic expectations and “shoulds,” such as, “I shouldn’t havedone that” or, “What made me say that?” The fourth and last thing that happens when we stifle the physicalexpression of sadness is that we see ourselves as passive and act accord-ingly. We view ourselves as insignificant and find it hard to speak up andtake action. For example, say you’ve been looking for a new apartmentfor several months. Several places you thought were perfect were givento other people. Increasingly, you feel like a helpless victim, at the mercyof the big, cruel world. Before you know it, you’ve quit exercising, startedbinging on comfort food, and stopped following up on housing leads. Anger works in similar ways.The mental tendencies and the feelings,thoughts, and actions associated with anger appear in the excerpt fromthe Attitude Reconstruction Blueprint on the following page.
EMOTIONS ARE THE KEYS TO UNDERSTANDING 17Emotion Focus DESTRUCTIVE MENTAL TENDENCIESExpression Attitude FEELINGS WORDS ACTIONS A OUTWARD FOCUS Jealous • You make me so mad. • Blame / ridicule / justify Blaming • You are the problem. • Make “you” statements N PEOPLE AND Alienated • What do they have? say? think? • Compare yourself to others G DON’T ACCEPT PEOPLE AND SITUATIONS SITUATIONS Intolerant • You should be different. • Have unrealistic expectations Disappointed • It’s not supposed to be like this. • Give unsolicited advice / opinions E Frustrated • I don’t believe it. • Reject others and withhold yourself R Refuse to Resentful MAKE NEGATIVE JUDGMENTS OF WHAT IS • You are a loser. • Expect the worst Critical • Right-Wrong / Fair-Unfair / Good- • Label people and things negatively Bad • Be sarcastic / critical / cynical accept Disgusted • It’s not enough.hotaggressive people and SELFISHhitting situations Stubborn • Me. Me. Me. • Act as if you are more importantstomping • My way or I wont play. • Be vain / pushy / insensitive Rebelliousshouting • Im special. • Don’t listen / opinionated Arrogantpounding When we feel anger but don’t deal with the energy constructively, our attention tends to go outward onto other people, things, and situa- tions in four predictable negative ways. The first thing the mind does is to look for something or someone “out there” to blame. When your car breaks down, it’s the mechanic’s fault. When you have a falling out with your cousin, it’s because she’s jealous that you have a boyfriend. The second mental tendency associated with anger is a refusal to accept people and situations as they are. When consumed by anger, we hang on to the notion that he, she, it, or they “should” be different. We’re full of unrealistic expectations that inflame our anger when unmet. We think, “They shouldn’t have said what they did” or, “It shouldn’t be this way.” The third mental tendency associated with unprocessed anger is that we negatively judge and label what we don’t accept because it doesn’t conform to our point of view. “It’s not okay,” we righteously rage, “it’s not fair.” We label what we don’t like as “bad,” “silly,” or “wrong.” Finally, the fourth belief we take on when in anger’s grip is the belief that we should get whatever we want and that we know better than anyone else. (Here is where our ego resides.) We’re the center of the universe, and we selfishly look out for our own interests at the expense
18 of others. We think that we have the right to tell others how to run their lives. “I’m the smartest person,” we arrogantly tell ourselves. “If everyone just agreed with me, then everything would be fine.” We are often under the influence of several mental tendencies simultaneously. Let’s say you’ve just finished a frustrating telephone con- versation with your mother-in-law. You walk into the next room where your teenage daughter is sitting. Without even taking in what she’s doing, you start talking about how pathetic her grandmother is (the first mental tendency associated with anger: directing your energy outward against other people and situations). Your daughter, worried about her test tomorrow, doesn’t agree with you, and responds by whining about her homework. You tell her to knock that off (the second mental tendency associated with anger: don’t accept people and situations), then call her a “crybaby” (the third mental tendency: make negative judgments). When she protests, you reply that if she’d just listen to you, she’d be a better person (the fourth mental tendency: selfishness). All the mental tenden- cies associated with anger manifested in this one everyday interaction. Next is the part of the blueprint about fear and its mental tendencies.Emotion Focus DESTRUCTIVE MENTAL TENDENCIESExpression Attitude FEELINGS WORDS ACTIONS LIVE IN THE FUTURE OR PAST F Worried Anxious • What if… • I dont want to feel this feeling. • Avoid expressing emotions • Be speedy / impulsive / busy E Distracted • Ive got to get out of here. • Escape reality through addictions A TIME OVERGENERALIZE Dramatic • Its always like that. • Go on tangents Overwhelmed • This is too much. • Exaggerate or minimize issues R • Nothing ever works out. • Jump to conclusions Scattered Live in past LOSE SIGHT OF WHAT IS TRUE OR REAL or future, Indecisive • Maybe this, maybe that. • Doubt excessively Confused • I dont care. It doesnt matter. • Procrastinate / fail to take actioncold and over- • Ill handle it tomorrow. • Act without regard for consequences Conflictedshivering generalizequivering ATTEMPT TO CONTROLlaughing Impatient • If I dont do it, it wont get done. • Dominate or manipulate nervously Rigid • Things are out of control. • Behave obsessively / compulsivelybreathing • I’ve got to be in charge. • Plan excessively Panicked irregularly
EMOTIONS ARE THE KEYS TO UNDERSTANDING 19 What happens when we don’t rid our bodies of the physical energy offear? Well, our minds don’t turn it against us as they do with sadness, ortarget other people and situations as they do with anger. With fear, ourminds catapult helter-skelter through time, jettisoning out of the pres-ent. We ruminate about the past or attempt to outguess the future. Theagitation we experience throughout our bodies is reflected in our actions,speech, and thoughts. We act rashly. We can’t stop talking, or we freezeinto confused silence. Our thoughts run at hyperspeed or blank out fromoverload. We jump to future what ifs and if onlys, which result in doubts,worries, and unrealistic fantasies. Or we go wading into the murky watersof the past by rehashing and analyzing, regretting what was. Second, unexpressed fear leads our minds to overgeneralize and dealin global abstractions such as always, never, and everyone. We assumeall experiences will be like this one or that a particular feeling will lastforever. We become masters at what I call “lumping,” dragging othertopics into a current situation and drawing sweeping conclusions, suchas “everything’s always difficult.” We resort to abstractions when we’rearguing. By the end of the conversation, we’ve brought in dozens of top-ics and handled none. Third, when in fear’s clutches, we have a tendency to lose sight ofwhat is true or real. We fail to remember that our current situation willpass. For example, if you have a spat with your spouse, you can get con-sumed with how distant you feel, forgetting that you do love him or her.Instead of working to resolve the conflict, you might spend your timefantasizing about having an affair. The last tactic our minds take when we have unexpressed fear isto try to control. When things seem out of control, we feel driven todo whatever we can to minimize that uncomfortable, scary, free-fallingfeeling that stems from realizing that some force bigger than us is ulti-mately running the show. We may gain an illusion of control by having aspotless desk, or we may feel as if we have to have complete power overevery aspect of a project or every bite we eat.
20 AN OVERVIEW The Mental Tendencies Associated with Joy, Love, and Peace Just as there are twelve predictable mental tendencies associated with sadness, anger, and fear, there are twelve mental tendencies linked to joy, love, and peace. In the section of the blueprint below, you will find the four mental tendencies associated with joy, the opposite of sadness.Emotion Focus CONSTRUCTIVE MENTAL TENDENCIESExpression Attitude FEELINGS WORDS ACTIONS WORTHY Happy • I am whole and complete. • Identify with your true self Full • I’m okay no matter what. • Know you are not your actions, roles, J • What I am seeking is within me. traits, and body Lovable • Think well of yourself O SELF-RELIANT YOURSELF Independent • My job is to take care of myself. • Fulfill your own needs and desires • Only if I take care of myself can I truly • Speak and act in line with your intuition Y Confident take care of you. • Enjoy independent activities Authentic • I am alone and I am connected. APPRECIATE AND RESPECT SELF Self-accepting • Life is for learning. We all make • Celebrate accomplishments Honor mistakes. • Learn from mistakes Self-respect • I did the best I could at the time. • Be gentle with yourself yourself Delighted • I love / accept myself unconditionally.smilingbubbling SPEAK UP AND TAKE ACTIONsparkling Powerful • My views are equally important. • Set goals and follow throughlaughing • I am responsible for what I do, think, • Speak up about whats true for you Assertive exuberantly say, and feel. • Face obstacles head on Capable • I can do this. I can handle this.tears Joy’s mental tendencies are about truly honoring ourselves. The first, the most fundamental tendency, is feeling worthy, meaning that we know we are fine, okay, perfect deep down, no matter what. In spite of chang- ing circumstances, actions, or economic conditions, we stay grounded in the knowledge that we’re whole and complete. We possess unshakably high self-esteem. The second mental tendency associated with joy is being self-reliant and independent, following our inner wisdom regardless of others’ opin- ions. Rather than operating from a need for validation, which puts us at the mercy of real and imagined external pressures, we’re guided by what we know in our hearts when we aren’t under the spell of sadness. We live our lives committed to honesty and personal integrity. The third mental tendency associated with joy is that when some-
21 thing sad happens or we do something we regret, we continue to accept, respect, and appreciate ourselves. Even when we slip or fail, we choose to show infinite compassion for ourselves and remain our own best allies. The fourth mental tendency is a willingness to take personal respon- sibility. We courageously speak up and take action in line with what we know within is highest and noblest, rather than what is easy or familiar. Moving on to the next emotion, the blueprint excerpt below shows the mental tendencies and the feelings, thoughts, and actions associated with love.Emotion Focus CONSTRUCTIVE MENTAL TENDENCIESExpression Attitude FEELINGS WORDS ACTIONS OPEN HEARTED Honest • My focus is myself. My domain is me. • Obey your intuition L Centered • What is most loving? What is the • Speak honestly about yourself high road? • Act with integrity Genuine • What does my intuition tell me? PEOPLE O AND ACCEPT PEOPLE AND SITUATIONS SITUATIONS Satisfied • People and things are the way they are. • Have realistic expectations of others V Tolerant • This is the way it is. • Give opinions only with permission • We are all on our own paths. • Encourage others Forgiving E Kind APPRECIATE AND RESPECT WHAT IS • I love you. I like you. • Be kind to people and things Accept Compassionate • We are all connected. • Offer praise and show gratitude • Thank you. • Attend to the positive Grateful people andwarm situations GIVE SELFLESSLYopen Humble • How can I help? What can I do? • Listen lovinglysoft tone • Your viewpoints and needs are as • Serve / support / cooperate Caringhappy eyes Generous important as mine. • Show friendliness and affection • I wish you well.smiling The mental tendencies associated with love have to do with feeling wholeheartedly connected to other people, things, and situations. When we feel love, we operate from an open heart. We use what is true within as a compass instead of making decisions based on what external pres- sures dictate or what we think others want or need. The second mental tendency is that we accept people and things as they are—even someone’s insensitivities, shady political maneuvers, or blatant disregard for another’s well-being. Acceptance does not mean you have to agree with another person, but it does mean you have to fully understand their point of view. A stance of true acceptance provides the
22 AN OVERVIEWfoundation to find and then take the kind of action that will increaselove in any situation. The third mental tendency associated with love is that we valueeveryone and everything that exists as we do ourselves. Because webelieve that all people are fundamentally the same, we treat others asequals, focus on similarities, feel our interconnection, and look for thegood in our world. The last mental tendency of love is to give selflessly, seek win-winsolutions, and share without any ulterior motive besides generating andfeeling more love. Remember that earlier scene, where you and your daughter had anunpleasant interaction over her homework? Here’s the same scene whenyou’re feeling love rather than anger. Although your mother-in-law wasa little testy on the phone, you feel empathy, recognizing that she has notbeen feeling very well (first mental tendency associated with love: open-heartedness). When your daughter whines, you quickly realize and acceptthat she is feeling anxious (the second mental tendency associated withlove: accept people and situations) and choose to view her wrestling withher homework with compassion (the third mental tendency: appreciateand respect other people and situations). You offer her genuine under-standing, and decide that it’s more important to spend a few minutesencouraging and helping her to conquer what seems difficult than to starton your dinner preparations (the fourth mental tendency: selfless giving). The last section of the blueprint shows you the mental tendencies andthe feelings, thoughts, and actions associated with peace.
EMOTIONS ARE THE KEYS TO UNDERSTANDING 23Emotion Focus CONSTRUCTIVE MENTAL TENDENCIESExpression Attitude FEELINGS WORDS ACTIONS P Calm RESIDE IN THE PRESENT • Everything is / will be all right. • Deal with emotions constructively E Content • This feeling is temporary. This • Calmly handle whatever happens Alert situation will pass. • Pause to hear your intuition • Stop. Breathe. Slow down. A TIME Clear • One thing at a time. STAY SPECIFIC • Think and speak in concrete terms C Focused • Ill handle the future in the future. • Focus on one thing at a time • Be concrete. Whats the specific? • Make and take small doable steps Effective E Stay Stable KEEP SIGHT OF WHAT IS TRUE OR REAL • This is whats true for me. • Stay motivated to accomplish goalscalm present Committed • I am responsible for my experience. • Perseveresilent and • My actions have consequences. • Act with conviction / passion Directedstill specificalert OBSERVE, ALLOW, PARTICIPATE, AND ENJOYaware Patient • I am part of a greater whole. • Feel centered and safe no mattersmiling Trusting • Everything is unfolding in its time. what happensbreathing • There is enough time. • Participate with humor, levity, creativity Flexible • Show faith and trust fully The emotion of peace is related to living fully in the moment and seeing life in terms of specifics. When we feel peace, our minds slow down and reside wholly in the present—peace’s first mental tendency. Slowing down and pausing allow us to meet the stillness, fullness, and the miraculousness of right now. The second mental tendency associated with peace is to refrain from making global assumptions, fretting about possible implications, or talking in abstractions. Instead, we stay specific. By remaining concrete and breaking things down into a series of small doable units, we can keep things manageable and accomplish almost anything. By remain- ing specific, we can navigate any topic of conversation, no matter how emotionally charged. The third mental tendency of peace is that we stay anchored in real- ity and don’t lose perspective when we feel overcome with emotions. We remember that we need to finish a class, even if we find it boring and its assignments unreasonable. We hold fast to our goal of getting in good physical shape, even when we’d prefer to lounge around at home rather than go to the gym.
24 The last mental tendency of peace is spontaneous participation inour precious lives and the natural flow with a sense of both playful-ness and responsibility. With equanimity, humor, and passion, we makesomething meaningful out of whatever we are dealt. The Ultimate Attitudes The four mental tendencies associated with each emotion can bereduced to a single statement. When we are mired in sadness, we don’thonor ourselves. When we are possessed by anger, we lose our focus onourselves and don’t accept people and situations. When fear overtakesus, we jump into the past or future and resort to generalities. These threedestructive ultimate attitudes keep us from being in touch with our-selves; perpetuate sadness, anger, and fear; and keep us from feeling joy,love, and peace. The Three Ultimate Attitudes Associated with Sadness, Anger, and Fear Emotion Ultimate Attitudes Sadness Don’t honor yourself Anger Refuse to accept people and situations Fear Live in the past or future and overgeneralize The mental tendencies associated with joy, love, and peace can alsobe summed up in three constructive ultimate attitudes. These attitudesare universally held values that show up in virtually every culture andspiritual tradition as the goals to which human beings aspire.They mightsound like airy-fairy notions, pie-in-the-sky clichés, or New Age jargon,but the constructive ultimate attitudes are well within our reach. We canuse them to guide our every choice.
EMOTIONS ARE THE KEYS TO UNDERSTANDING 25 The Three Ultimate Attitudes Associated with Joy, Love, and Peace Emotions Ultimate Attitudes Joy Honor yourself Love Accept people and situations Peace Stay present and specific When you feel joy, you feel pretty darn good about yourself. This ishow we begin life. Think about an innocent child. She knows that sheis wonderful. She doesn’t disagree when you tell her how beautiful sheis. She naturally thinks well of herself, speaks up for her own interests,and follows her own inner beat. Likewise, when you’re feeling love forsomeone, you naturally accept the person as he or she is, relish what youshare in common, and generously share with others. And finally, whenyou are sitting on the beach with a good book and not a care in theworld—no deadlines, no conflicts, no pressures—what is your attitude?You are present. You relish the moment. How do you feel? Calm andrelaxed. Right here, right now. Peace! We can make huge strides just by becoming aware of our destructiveultimate attitudes and replacing them with their constructive counter-parts. For instance, if you have a sadness constitution or notice that youare not being kind to yourself, you can remind yourself, “Oops. There Iam putting myself down. I’ll feel better if I say something nice to myselfright now.” If you have an anger constitution and you’re being argumen-tative and not listening to what someone else is saying, you could say toyourself, “There I am arguing rather than accepting. It’s time to be quietand understand her position, because I want to feel more connected.” Orif you have a fear constitution and realize you’re worrying about some-thing in the future, you could remind yourself, “I’m worrying. I’ll enjoymyself more if I focus on what I can do right now.”