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Live Like A Lover!
What if you could always see the world through the eyes of someone in love? It is amazing how good we are at using our awesome brains to make ourselves feel bad! Ruminating over an embarrassing moment a week ago; beating ourselves up because we meant to say one thing, but actually said another; or just spending time worrying about the future are all extraordinarily poor uses of our magical thinking and feeling abilities. What if, instead, we focused on answering the question “how good can I feel?” You might be surprised to learn that our brains are just as adept at helping us feel good as they are at allowing us to feel crummy. And, feeling good is significantly more fun. How good would you like to feel? That’s the question I always ask my clients. Assuming ‘more’ good is better, let’s take a look at an easy way to litter your world with more good feelings. Intentionally frown, and remember a recent time when you were upset (if you can’t recall a recent time you were upset you sure don’t need to be reading these self-help articles).
Take a couple of deep breaths low in your body (your belly) as you recall being upset. Remember to frown. Now look around you, and just notice what catches your attention. Notice what sounds you hear, how intense the colors around you are, and whether or not your environment somehow reflects your upset feeling. Now let that feeling go.
Literally shake your hands to shake out the upset feeling, stand up and move around just a bit. Make sure the upset feeling has gone. Now intentionally smile, recall a recent time when you were feeling happy. Take a couple of deep breath higher in your body (upper chest) and relive that good feeling. Once you’re in the ‘happy flow’ take a look around and notice if your surrounding don’t somehow look different than they did when you playing ‘upset’ feelings. Most people find their environment reflects whatever emotional state they are entertaining. When we are upset, the world seems to mirror our unsettledness. Likewise, your happy feeling is likely greeted by a world of brighter, happier colors, cheerier voices, and more pleasant sensations all around. Now recall the last time you were really in love. You know, the feeling that has you skipping instead of walking down the street.
That magical glow of being in love that always has a smile on your lips. This phenomenon of feeling heroically good when you are in love is so ubiquitous that it is perhaps the cliché of our culture. Countless love songs, poems, and TV commercials make reference to those glorious feelings of being in love. It doesn’t really matter whether you’ve got someone handy to be in love with right now or not, you can certainly still entertain all of those wonderful love produced feelings. Or, if you’ve, as the song laments “lost that loving feeling”, I can show you how to easily get that joy back. Make sure you only recall the glorious fun stuff, just in case the relationship later took a turn for the worst. It’s a rare relationship that doesn’t start wonderfully. Those moments of joy are yours to recall and enjoy regardless of what else may have crept in to spoil paradise. So you are recalling that incredible feeling of being in love. Initially, maybe all you can bring up is a distant memory of being in love, but it is there.
Even if you don’t recall, or have never had that profound loving experience, you’ve seen enough people in love around you, or in movies and on TV to be able to pretend. Your brain does not distinguish well between actual recalled events and those fictional events vividly imagined. Here's your chance to enjoy that great love you never had. So now, remember, or pretend to remember those glorious feelings of being in love. Perhaps you can remember your beloved’s face, or voice, or touch. Perhaps instead you'll start by recalling a place, or a song that reminds you of the feelings. It may come a bit slow at first, but as you think about the sensory details of a time you were in love you will discover two things. First, the more you think about it, the more details will come back to you or be supplied by your imagination. The second fact you will discover is that such happy fantasizing is much more enjoyable than worrying ever was. In your imagination, pursue those details, re-deploy your finely honed ‘worry’ circuits to instead ruminate and flesh in the details of those love filled moments.
They don’t have to be real, and they don’t have to sentimental, but they must be happy thoughts and feelings—the happier, the better. Make this process of recollection of love drenched experiences a hobby. It is more entertaining than stamp collecting. Soon, as you immerse yourself in this enjoyable exercise, you will find the memories easier to find, and the associated good feelings more naturally flowing into your body. The better you were at worrying, the better you will be at this fun reminiscence. Whenever you experience a real choice ‘zinger’ of a good feeling, form your left hand into a fist and gently squeeze it. When you recall a warm or pleasant thought that makes you giggle, or blush, squeeze that fist. Make it your goal to come up with pleasant thoughts worthy of a fist squeeze.