- Ask your client to close their eyes, and identify something in their experience that they don’t like.
- Ask them to identify how it feels. Is it pleasant? Unpleasant? How does it feel in the body? How does it feel emotionally?
- With something we don’t like, we generally want it to change. What would it be like if it didn’t change?
- How would it feel if it didn’t change? How would it feel emotionally?
- Are the feelings that go along with it not changing pleasant?
- Are the feelings that go along with it not changing at least bearable? (after all, you are experiencing them now)
- If they are bearable, then it means the thing not changing is an okay outcome.
Commentary: Typically, not getting something can feel like a disaster. The idea of not getting rid of the thing we don’t like can seem catastrophic. In this exercise, we have imagined a worst case, and witnessed that it isn’t catastrophic.
In one sense, with this exercise, nothing changes. But in another sense, we have become able to hold the experience of both change, and no change. This takes away the power of the “no change” option. Previously, when we think of the “no change” option, we can feel compelled to act. The “no change” option is somehow able to control us.
When we are able to hold both options emotionally, we gain a new freedom. The pressure is taken off - we are no longer under pressure - we can think for ourselves.
This approach also works when people manipulate us. If someone is trying to manipulate us, we can deliberately give our attention to the feelings they trigger. What they want is us to feel something we don’t want to feel, and thus work to get away from the feeling. If we become able to feel those feelings, then again, the controlling person can no longer make us act.