Moving

Now, from the framework of our traveling through a new territory, we are ready to pull out our compass. From the framework of initiating a new science, we are ready to interact with what is under investigation, to learn more about how it behaves. For both these purposes, we will rely on a surprising property of the feeling maps we have created.

When we worked our way through the sequence of mapping questions, for each parameter trying on this value or that one until we found the right fit, it felt as though we were merely applying an instrument of perception. Mapping seems like using a fancy telescope to view something far away, or passing x-rays through a body part and capturing the image on film in order to reveal the contours of the broken bone.

In mere perception, you can’t interact with your perceptual representation to directly alter what it is you are perceiving. For example, you can’t take a white pen to the x-ray film and color in the gap between the broken ends of the bone, and expect the bone to heal itself as a result.

The strange thing is, with the type of perception we have created in our mapping, we can do exactly that. Namely, we are able to directly manipulate the qualities of the mapping image we have created, simply imagining them to be different, and the feeling state itself will transform as a result. If you take an anger that mapped to a hot, erupting liquid, and simply imagine it cooling down, you will experience the anger itself “cooling down” as a result, transforming from anger into something less volatile.

I can understand if this causes you to take a step back in skepticism. Nothing in our current understanding of feeling, mood, and emotion suggests that such a thing is possible. In my very first experiment with this method, my map was very crude, consisting only of the observation that a feeling of depression in my chest seemed to have a strong, gravitational pull downward. I reversed the direction of the gravity, imagining a strong push upward instead, and the feeling transformed instantly into a pervasive cheerfulness that shifted my mood for days. I was so stunned I backed off.

I did not attempt another such experiment for a couple of weeks, considering what it might mean if my experience was actually what it seemed to be. At that time I was strongly invested in the methods I had been using to attempt to get control of my moods, namely self-hypnosis, journaling, reframing my thoughts and beliefs, and other approaches oriented around rewiring traumatic memories and the beliefs formed from them. In contrast, in this experience I had made no effort to connect to the past, to memories, to ideas or beliefs, to any kind of thought structures whatsoever. I had brought my attention only to this absurdly trivial quality of the downward pull, something seemingly irrelevant to the meaning and feeling of my depression. It seemed bizarre, yet the impact was impossible to deny.

The bizarreness had to do with a disruption of the fundamental, unconscious and unexamined assumptions I held, and we all hold, regarding our own experience of feeling. This is something so close to home, so much a part of the air we breathe, the water we swim in, the ground we walk on, that we don’t ever consider to question it. So when it behaves in a way that goes completely against our expectations, the experience can be disorienting. It was for me, and it is for many people. Here is what my client Louise wrote about her experience of shifting her first feeling state:

“The experience of shifting the feeling left me stunned. It moved quickly and the feeling of relief and lightness was sweeping and overwhelming.”

In this chapter I want to lead you through your own experience of shifting a feeling state. The process I describe is the result of over two-and-a-half decades of incremental refinement. My intention right now is simply to lead you through the experience as best I can. Afterwards, we can begin to dig more deeply into how to apply the method and what it all means.

Brief Overview

The feelingwork moving phase has four steps:

  1. Prepare the way by setting an inviting and safe framework.
  2. Invite a shift by eliciting feelingmind imagery expressive of the ideal feeling state.
  3. Invite new beliefs congruent with the ideal feeling state.
  4. Name and draw the ideal feeling state.

We’ll walk through each step to help you get the best results. Proceed as you did with the mapping, taking notes and drawing the final feeling state. Write the name of the feeling state you’re moving to begin. When you’ve finished, you’ll name the final, ideal feeling state and write that under your drawing.

Asking the Moving and Beliefs Questions

As you did with the mapping sequence, read the questions on the following pages verbatim, and as much as possible, thoroughly capture the important parts of your answers. If an answer isn’t clear at first, invite different possibilities until one feels like it fits.

As soon as we begin asking the first moving question, we enter a new world. In facilitating this process, we abandon all reference to the original feeling name from the very beginning. Instead, we refer to “this part of you.” That’s because a feeling name is very specific, and the name for the original feeling state referred only to the state represented by that specific feelingmind image.

As soon as we change even a single parameter of that image, the feeling state is no longer the same, and thus the name no longer applies. Because the feeling state is in a constant state of transition throughout the entire moving process, we choose to refer to the underlying entity, “this part of you,” which is the same from the beginning to the end of the process and beyond. Using this language helps point to the aspect of the explorer’s consciousness we’re focused on, and also helps the explorer let go of any attachment to the original feeling state.

Each moving question has six important components:

  1. Acknowledge progress. Restate the changes already achieved and reinforce their felt expression in the moment. Key expressions are, “In becoming [ parameter ]…” or “In allowing this part of you to become [ parameter ]…” or the generic, “In taking on these changes…”
  2. Set the “as if” frame. It is important throughout the process to undertake it as if it were a simple exercise of imagination. We want the ultimate latitude for movement, and that requires the maximum amount of permissiveness for this part to try anything at all. One way of reinforcing this frame is to use the language of possibility: “If this part of you could… what would…” “If you were to say… what would you say that might be?” Another way is to add the language, “In this moment” toward the beginning of the question.
  3. Identify direction. Invite trial changes in both directions to very specific sub-parameters to choose a positive direction. For example, ask if the feeling state would prefer to be warmer or cooler, heavier or lighter, darker or brighter. Make sure to apply equal or neutral emphasis to any choices suggested, and include the possibility for no movement at all, “…or neither.”
  4. Invite complete transformation. Specifically ask what parameter value this part would “most want to be.” Occasionally restate the frame “in a perfect world, where all your needs are met…” As in the mapping phase, the explorer may find it easier if the facilitator provides a selection of possibilities to choose from, including the option, “… or something else.”
  5. Invite refinements. Selectively scan various refining parameters to invite the explorer to enhance and improve the feeling state. Often, these enhancements can lead to further substantive moves as new insights emerge from the qualities elicited.
  6. Reinforce part autonomy. In choosing direction, use the language “which feels better to this part of you?” or “would this part of you prefer?” In inviting transformation, use the language “this part of you.” This places the locus of evaluation directly within the part itself, where it belongs.

When you first facilitate this process, whether for yourself or someone else, you’ll be best served by asking the questions verbatim, as I’ve provided them. Eventually, many of you will find yourself wanting to make changes to better suit your personal style. If so, please keep these six guidelines in mind, and you’ll remain effective in your facilitation.

What You Can Expect

Feelingmind is far more complex than to operate on a simple slider mechanism. I’d like to give you a few important pointers about this new territory, to help you get the most out of it as you get started.

First, feeling states do not exist in isolation. We will go into far more depth about this in the Exploring chapter, but for now, don’t be surprised if that seemingly trivial state you chose to map turns out to be linked to the big knot at the center of everything. Because every state is connected strongly to a full set of other distinct but interdependent states, I encourage you to make it a priority to stop from time to time as you go, and to ask yourself, “What else am I feeling?” If you detect something relatively strong that you haven’t yet identified and mapped, make a note of it, acknowledge it internally, and come back to it later.

Overall, I want to encourage you to keep in mind that as you map and move feeling states, you are traveling through a rich, complex ecosystem of feeling. Be prepared for the unexpected, be open to surprise, and make sure you have enough time set aside to take a detour if that becomes necessary to complete what you begin. Sometimes as you move one feeling state, another will come barging into the foreground as if to demand to be taken through the process. Make it a priority to at least acknowledge it and commit to returning to it soon, and if possible turn your attention fully to the new state to map and move it before returning to the state you were working on before it showed up.

Be especially open to surprise as you take your state through the moving process. It is very likely that the part of you that has been holding its form in the feeling state you mapped does not remember what it is like to experience its ideal state. In many cases, you will feel completely and delightfully surprised, arriving at a feeling and state of mind that you never would have anticipated. At the same time, it will probably feel more like your authentic, real self than the state you started with, no matter how familiar and pervasive that state has been in your life.

Setting Things Up

We need to support the easy release of feeling states from their conjoined relationships with other feeling states, so they are free to seek their own ideal state independently. I have found the most effective framework to include the following elements. Farther below you’ll find a script to lead you gracefully through this preamble to the moving questions.

  • Acknowledge the feeling state for having a positive intention. One of the ways other states keep a feeling state locked into place is through the interweaving of judgmental beliefs. Often, for example, an experience of fear is denigrated by a parent, and this judgment gets incorporated as a defensiveness both against the judge and against the feeling of fear. Both states were working hard to maintain the expectations set by the parent, thus maintaining the connection, belonging, and safety.
  • Affirm the freedom to return to the original feeling state at any time. The fact is, in moving a feeling state, the part experiences a greater range of freedom of expression. It is able to choose to express as the ideal state it discovers, or the original compromised state, or anything in between. Asserting this reassures the feeling path that moving it is safe. There is no risk.
  • Narrow the time frame to “this moment,” and set a spirit of exploration. Within this moment, anything is possible. Narrowing the frame provides greater freedom to explore an “as if” world, without the limitations imposed by “reality.” Using the word “explore” invites a sense of adventure and possibility. Who knows what we will find?
  • Set the frame for exploration to be “in a perfect world.” The definition of this world is one in which “all your needs are met, fully and completely, exactly the way you want them, and you know how to keep them that way.” The purpose of every part, expressed as a feeling state, is to meet specific needs. If those needs are well met, the part signals this satiation with pleasurable feeling states. Taking on this frame encourages the part to reconnect with the feeling state associated with this fulfillment.
  • Give explicit instructions to the interconnected parts. I have found the most effective way to avoid having another feeling come to the foreground and steal the stage is to give all the other states clear instructions. I suggest they participate as “passive witnesses,” with the job of learning what is possible for themselves and “every part of you.”

Creating this level of freedom and permission usually does the trick. The feeling part goes blithely through the process, winding up in a new state it most likely would not have predicted, and being quite pleased with its discovery as a result. Although we may emphasize over and over again that the part can always go back to its original state, once it discovers its ideal state, do you think it wants to? Usually not. Once a part regains access to its ideal state, it’s going to work hard to maintain that access.

Trusting the Compass

Another important aspect of the overall framing of the space for transformation is a deep trust in the wisdom of feeling. Sometimes you may find yourself guessing about what the feeling state should be, according to some ideas about it. Whenever you notice impulses sounding like, “it should be,” or “I want it to be,” that’s usually an indication of another state butting into the process with its own opinion.

If this happens, remind yourself to trust this part of you, to focus on what the feeling state actually feels like, and to go always in the direction of what feels best to this part of you without making any effort to figure that out ahead of time. This is your compass. It is strong and clear, and will guide you faithfully every time. In this way, the path taken through the transformation will very often surprise you. The part you are moving has often become so out of touch with its ideal state that predicting the ideal state is impossible.

In a general sense, this is why we can’t actually ever know what we truly want unless we are first free to experience the ideal state of having everything we need. When viewed from the perspective of a distressed, reactive feeling state, any idea of what we need or want is bound to be mistaken.

Our Framing Script

Now we're going to take a feeling that you’ve mapped and alter the image as a way to transform the feeling itself. Return to your notes and drawing of the feeling state you mapped. Read through your notes and refresh your experience of the feeling state. If needed, intensify one or more of the parameters of the image in order to feel the visceral twinge of the tangible link between the image and your state.

Moving a feeling state is pretty straightforward but incredibly powerful. So before we start, make yourself comfortable. I want to talk about three frames that we need to set before moving forward. Read the following as if I am speaking to you, leading you through this preparatory stage of the work. I encourage you to revisit this frame-setting in preparation for every time you move a feeling state.

Acknowledging the Part

First of all, I want to acknowledge that this feeling you mapped is a part of you that has been expressing itself in a particular way. It took this form at some point in your life where that was necessary to signal that something was out of balance for you. At that time, it might have been that you weren't allowed to feel that, and you had to push it aside. Or it might have been that you weren't allowed to act on it, you didn't have the power to make the changes necessary. Or perhaps you weren't supported in the way you needed, to become aware of what that feeling was trying to tell you and take the action necessary to restore balance and harmony and wholeness in your life. So it had a function, that feeling. But that function was interrupted.
In this process, we want to restore this part’s natural functioning so it can signal you, in an ongoing way, about the state of balance in your life. And the way that we're going to do that is we're going to reconnect this part of you with its original or ideal state. This part feels a particular feeling state in an optimal situation, in a perfect world where its needs are met. We want to reconnect with that. We're going to expand its horizons and reconnect it to the full range of expression that is available to it.

Safe to Move

As we begin, we want to set three frames. First, as we go through the questions, we're going to be inviting specific properties of the feeling, specific qualities of that image you mapped, to shift. As those qualities shift, the feeling itself is going to shift along with them. By mapping, we've created this tangible image that serves almost like a visual handle, and we can take that handle and we can move it, and the feeling will move along with it. It's an amazing process.
I want to reassure this part of you that this process is safe. We're going to be shifting it — the feeling will become something new — but you can always put it back.
We're not taking away the option for this part of you to signal you in exactly the same way, if for any reason that would be most appropriate. We are adding to its repertoire. We're adding a range of motion, but we're not taking away the possibility for this part of you to feel exactly what it has been feeling, if that is ever necessary.

In a Perfect World…

The second frame is, because it's safe, I want to invite you to go for it. In this process, we're going to move the feeling. I want to invite you to allow this part of you to move as far as it can go.
What could this part of you experience in a perfect world, a world in which all of your needs are met, fully and completely, exactly the way you want them, and you know how to keep them that way?
So, in shifting this feeling, what could it become in a perfect world?

All Parts of You

The third frame I want to set is to acknowledge that this feeling is not alone. There are other parts of you, other feeling states, that have an intimate relationship with this particular feeling. And sometimes that relationship seems to be one of dependence or control, in some way. Shifting this feeling might make another part come to the foreground and say, “Hey, wait a second. I'm not sure I want that shift to happen." For example, a feeling of shame might feel exposed if a protective feeling of anger transforms into something else.
Recognize, first of all, that this feeling we are moving can always go back the way it was, if that's necessary or desirable. It can do that immediately, as soon as we finish this process, if it chooses to do so. Second, these other parts can learn that this process is available for every part of you.
I want to invite any other parts of you, any other feeling states connected to this one, to participate in this process as passive witnesses only, learning from this process what is possible for every part of you.

Transition: In This Moment

Now, in this moment, in the spirit of exploration of what’s possible in a perfect world…

The Questions

We're going to go through the different properties of the image, starting with temperature. Keep notes as you go.

Place your attention on the feeling you mapped previously. You might have the image in front of you to help. I'm going to refer to this feeling as "this part of you," because as soon as we start moving it, it will no longer be that original feeling. The first image is specific to the feeling you mapped, and as we shift the image, the feeling itself is going to become something different. The old name for it will no longer be relevant. Yet this will remain the same part of you, simply expressing itself through a different feeling state.

Temperature

We’re going to start with temperature. As we begin, temperature is often the easiest image parameter to shift and feel an instant, tangible result.

If this part of you were free to become warmer or cooler, what would feel better? What would this part of you prefer? And in becoming warmer or cooler, if this part of you were free to take on any temperature at all, what temperature would it most want to be? What would be this part’s perfect temperature?

Write down the new temperature in your notes.

I usually lead with temperature because it’s such a simple quality with a clearly linear scale. You can make small adjustments in one direction or the other to find out which leads to improvement, and then invite further exploration to find the optimal value. Also, I think temperature works well when you’re starting because it is so clearly kinesthetic. There’s no way to “game” the system with creative images and it guides you to pay more direct attention to feelingmind information.

Substance

Let's move to substance quality.

So, in taking on that new temperature, if this part of you were free to become harder or softer, heavier or lighter, more or less dense, what would feel better?
And in moving in that direction, if this part of you were free to take on qualities of any substance at all, would it prefer to be more like a solid… or a liquid… or a gas… or some kind of pure light or energy… or something else?
And going into the finer qualities of that, in becoming that substance, does it want to be hard or soft, heavy or light, thick or thin? What other qualities do you want to notice about what substance qualities this part of you most wants to have?

With each subsequent question, I usually start with a reinforcement of the progress we’ve already made. The language, “in becoming…” presupposes the moment happened or is happening. The presupposition is a powerful verbal technique to support unconscious processing.

We move directly into the fine adjustment explorations to identify positive direction. For substance, you’ll want to base your fine adjustments on the substance you’re starting with. For almost all substances, the question “more or less dense” will usually serve well. For solids, “harder or softer” is often useful. For solids and liquids, “heavier or lighter” works well, and for liquids and gasses, “thicker or thinner” can be useful.

Once you’ve gotten the substance moving a bit, transition directly into the open invitation. For substance, it is important to list the options as a way of inviting the explorer to actually “try on” each quality, making sure to consider the full spectrum of possibilities. Often times a substance will make a dramatic shift, for example from solid to pure light, and without considering the full spectrum you might stop the movement with a small shift to liquid because that does feel better. At every point in the process, work to maintain the full “perfect world” treatment.

Write the new substance qualities in your notes.

Color

Next we’ll look at color and other qualities of appearance.

So in taking on these new qualities of substance and temperature, if this part of you were free to become darker or brighter, what would it prefer?
And in shifting in that direction, if this part of you could take on any color or colors of the rainbow, what color would it most want to be?
And would it want to be transparent, translucent or opaque?
And would it want to have any qualities of being luminous, iridescent, shimmering or sparkling?
What other visual qualities of appearance do you notice this part of you wants to take on?

The first question here is optional. Often by the time you’ve reached color in the sequence, the feeling state has already shifted considerably and may already have started taking on new color properties. Starting out with the open invitation question is often sufficient at this point, but if there’s a bit of a struggle, then I’ll readjust by asking an incremental question. Useful ones to consider are “darker or brighter,” “more or less vivid,” or “more or less transparent/opaque.”

Make sure to ask about opacity, etc, and invite an exploration of other qualities like iridescence. These can be fun additions to the image!

Write these new visual appearance qualities in your notes.

Location

The next property we’ll explore is location.

In taking on these new qualities of color, substance and temperature, if this part of you were free to locate itself anywhere in or around your body, or in and around your body, where would it want to be located? And what kind of size and shape would it most want to be?

Location can be one of the most powerful properties in shifting a feeling state to its ideal. Many times, a feeling state which starts outside the body will end up on the inside. The opposite also happens.

One important dimension here is size. Many times, we might be used to a feeling state being rather small, and don’t immediately consider the possibility of expanding it to full-body size or beyond. You can guide this process by asking explicitly what it would be like to have the feeling occupy a larger size. “Try it on.” If it wants to spread through your chest, for example, would it feel good to go up into your head? Down into your belly? All the way down into your legs? If it extends outside your body, how far? (Some feeling states will expand infinitely in all directions.)

Sometimes a feeling state seems to you that it would be beneficial to occupy the whole body, but it just doesn’t want to go into the legs, for example. Sometimes this is because another feeling that hasn’t yet been moved is occupying that space and it doesn’t feel so great to have them overlap. In cases like these, it is often useful to come back around to make final adjustments to the feeling location (and other properties) after you’ve moved the rest of the feelings in the set you’re working.

Make note of the new location, size, and shape.

Movement

After exploring location, we bring our attention to movement.

In locating itself in this new location, how does this part of you want to be moving? Does it want to be flowing, or pulsing, or vibrating? Does there want to be any sense of waves or ripples? Does it want to be radiating in some way? What directions or other qualities of movement does this part of you most want to have?

Most of the time, the movement will quickly suggest itself. By this far in the process, the feeling state has almost completely transformed and is probably already moving in the way it wants to. All you need to do as the facilitator is identify that desired movement, reinforce it verbally, and invite it to go even further in positive qualities. And at this point there is usually no need to ask about “force or pressure” from the mapping phase, because those qualities are almost always a sign of opposition with another state.

Of course, explore the details. As with mapping, consider direction, speed, intensity, and variability. Explore qualities of movement in time as well, noticing pattern, rhythm, and randomness.

Capture your new movement qualities in your notes.

Sound

Finally, we dig into the quality of sound.

In taking on all these new qualities, if this part of you were free to generate an inner sound, as a way of more fully expressing its true nature, what would that want to be?
Would it want to be some kind of music or a natural sound? Some kind of voice? One voice or many? Male or female? What age? What would be the optimal inner sound to express this part of you?

For some people, sound is an especially powerful dimension of the experience. Give some time for yourself to inhabit the new feeling state and allow for an appropriate sound to show up. Once it does, ask clarifying questions to help make the auditory imagery crystal clear. Use the tips in the mapping section for exploring the details of sound or voice.

Capture these changes in your notes.

Anything Else to Notice?

And now, let's review.

Going back through the different qualities, are there any other adjustments you want to make? Is there anything else you want to notice about what this part of you wants to be?

With this question, you are opening up for any further adjustment the explorer might want to make. Sometimes shifts in properties later in the process change the earlier properties even further. For example, adding the sound of a choral chant might help shift the substance from a gas to more of a pure light, or shift its color in some way. Check these things out to make sure you’ve fully mapped the ideal state.

Make those changes in your notes.

Thoughts and Beliefs

And now, turn your attention to the thoughts that naturally want to arise from this place.

If this part of you were free to express in words what seems most true, or real, or important, what would it say? What does this part of you most want you to know?
How might this part of you complete the sentence “I am..." or “I have..." or “I can..."? What else do you notice?
What does this part of you most want you to know?

Take some time with this, and capture what comes through in your notes.

One of the most satisfying parts of the feelingwork practice is the moment when you ask about your new beliefs and perceptions from the perspective of the new feeling state. You quickly realize, “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.”

Understanding Belief

What is a belief, anyway? A feeling state is an anchor which organizes the activity of consciousness. Multiple feeling anchors work together in every moment to organize your experience of being a self-in-the-world, including thought images and perceptual filters. Each feeling has unique thought imagery attached to it.

A belief is a link between imagery of one feeling state to the imagery of another related state. This link can be expressed in language. Belief links tend to fall into three rough categories: links of equivalence, (A=B), links of sequence, (First A, then B), and links of causation, (If A, then B).

When we move a feeling from its reactive state to its ideal state, the old imagery no longer fits. The new feeling state generates a new thought space within which new imagery arises. So a belief that began as a link to an image attached to the reactive state loses its attachment point. The belief dissolves.

In its place are possible new beliefs which can attach to the new imagery of the ideal state. Your task in moving the state is to explicitly invite these new connections. By asking about new beliefs, you are actually assisting assisting them to form in the moment, drawing on the possibilities arising with the new imagery.

Sometimes the newness is so profound you may have difficulty immediately generating new thought patterns. Many times I will turn attention directly to drawing. This provides time to sit with the new feeling and allow it to begin making new connections in that quiet space without words. Then, after the drawing, come back to explore the thoughts that arise in the new space.

The last line in the sequence above may be the most important. It invites the part to choose for itself what is most important about the new state.

When you are accessing these new beliefs and perceptions, be open to transcendent, transpersonal, way out there kinds of statements as well as very simple, seemingly mundane observations. In these ideal states, we connect at times to aspects of life that are outside of our ordinary waking consciousness. At times, we tap into the realm of dreams and beyond dreams. At the same time, we tend to find ourselves stripped of pretense and connected to the simple truths of life.

I find these moments to be great gifts. There are times when an explorer is sharing the thoughts of the ideal state, when I feel as though I am sitting at the feet of a great teacher. Through many of these experiences with my students and friends, and through my own explorations, I am convinced that every one of us has access to the deepest mysteries of life. That’s exciting to me, and humbling. You may find it so as well.

A different aspect which might show up here is a connection to other states which have not yet been shifted. At this moment of the work, you are asking about beliefs that connect to one specific feeling state. But a belief will almost always connect to another part somewhere. And many times, especially in the early stages, the other parts it connects to may still be stuck in reactivity.

You’ll know this when you hear things stated in the negative, for example. “I’m not in danger anymore,” or “I don’t have to put up with anyone’s BS now.” In these examples, it’s clear there are still active feeling states holding images of danger and other people’s “BS.”

That’s OK. In these examples, zoom in a little closer on what’s possible with the new state by asking them what you get to experience instead of danger, or other people’s BS. Focus on the experience you generate for yourself, from the inside. If necessary, remind yourself of the “perfect world” frame, and invite this part of you to explore how it would feel in a world in which danger, etc., simply was not an issue, never was, never will be. Sometimes this reconnecting to the larger frame invites a further shift of the state itself, and you may need to take another tour through the questions to check for adjustments to the various qualities.

The farther you go in the mapping and moving process with any given issue, the more the different parts will spontaneously settle into beliefs of possibility and resourcefulness. When you’ve moved all the feeling states associated with a given issue, there are no parts left generating the negative imagery. So the beliefs that naturally form are overwhelmingly positive and at the same time sensitive to real conditions of the world.

Finally, don’t fret if you find yourself at a loss for words. You will have plenty of opportunity in the hours and days to come for this part to work its way into your natural thought process and belief system.

New Name?

Now the feeling state has transformed, and the original name no longer applies. Give the state a new name.

Finally, what name would you like to give this new feeling state? What name would it like to be called?

Once the feeling has been moved to its ideal state and you have had some time to reflect on what’s unique and new about the feeling, it’s time to give the feeling a name. This can be quite fun, because you are naturally in an open, creative space. The names that arise spontaneously tend to be poetic descriptions of either the feeling image or derivations of the new beliefs and perspectives.

You might find some ideas for the new name in the notes that you've taken already. Sometimes these words can be used verbatim to name the feeling. Other times they will spark new insights and the name will emerge in your reflections about the possibilities.

When I am facilitating, and the explorer is struggling to come up with a name, if some of their language suggests a name to me, I’ll make that suggestion, making sure to also invite them to reject it or respond with something more suitable. As with all of the questions, it can be helpful us to have specific suggestions to reject as a way to move toward greater clarity.

Once you have settled on a name, try it on to make sure this is the name that works best. If so, capture the name prominently in your notes.

Drawing

And now, take some time with the drawing, in the same way as you did with the original feeling state map.

Summary

So that wraps up the moving process. You've brought a feeling state more into awareness using the mapping, feeling it more fully, creating a clear, tangible image, a kind of visual handle. And then, using that handle, you moved the feeling itself. You invited this part of you to reveal to you what it really wants to be feeling.

Can you see the connection between the first feeling and the second one? It is the same part of you. It is trying to do the exact same thing for you, but in the second case, it's doing it in the context of possibility, of what could be if your life was truly as it wants to be.

Changing the Question Sequence

In general, you’ll do well with the standard sequence given here. However, if you have reason to believe that one of the parameters is a strong driver for a feeling state, it’s ok to start with that one. For example, if the substance is extremely heavy, or the color is oppressively dark, go ahead and start with that, beginning with incremental changes to the weight or darkness.

Overall, it doesn’t ultimately matter in what order you ask the questions. The goal is to get through them all and arrive at a final, ideal state.

Reversing Directions

Occasionally you will come across a feeling state that will virtually leap into its new, ideal state, with very little in the way of transitional states in between. Most of the time, though, you’ll experience an unbroken continuity between the reactive and ideal states. This might sound strange when you’ve just moved something like Excruciating Despair or Apocalyptic Terror, but especially when you have moved something highly intolerable, I recommend that you reverse directions, moving your ideal state back into the reactive state. Let it sit there for a moment, knowing you have access, now, to the ideal state. And then put it back. You might even do it a couple of times.

This does two things. First, it reassures all the rest of the parts of you that it’s OK to feel this state. Being reassured that it’s OK to feel it means that you will be open to its more subtle signals later on. You will lose the need to suppress your awareness of it, and so it will be able to do its job more easily. Not only that, you will be rehearsing for the future, when you might feel a lesser version of this state. It really helps to maintain an orientation and access to the ideal state. This functions as kind of a “north star” for this part of you. (We’ll get further into what “doing its job” and “north star” mean in later chapters.)

Second, in cases where a state seems to jump to its ideal, we can confirm that yes, indeed, this reactive state transformed into this ideal state. Occasionally we can jump tracks in the moving process, shifting attention from one part of us to another. In these cases, we might have shifted our attention to an ideal state that is not connected to the reactive state we started with. If that happens, the original, reactive state remains as-is, unmoved, and all we’ve done is temporarily switch channels. Without actually moving the reactive state, it will remain in place and we’ll need to deal with it at a later time.

How to Know When You Are Done

So how do you know when a particular part has actually achieved its ideal state? The fact is, it’s not important. As long as you are moving feeling states in the direction from more distressing to less, from less functional to more, from reactive in the general direction of ideal, you’re doing great.

Because each feeling state is interconnected with eight others, there are many times when a first-pass move yields moderate results and it’s clear the state has not achieved its ideal. An example of this might be a state of fear moving to a state of protection. The protection state still presupposes a danger. As long as that danger is represented internally by a threatening feeling state, the original state of fear will be unable to fully transform. But after moving through the entire set and transforming the danger as well as others which might play a role in the experience of threat, the fear will be ready to move fully to a state which transcends danger. The protection will be free to become something like strength or freedom. And ironically, in the absence of the internal representation of danger, the inner experience of freedom will turn out to be objectively far more safe in the world than the original configuration was.

Overall, the answer to the question of how you know when you’ve found a part’s ideal state has to do with the information covered in the next chapter. With some parts, you will know right away. For others, it will depend on completing the full set of parts, and seeing the relationships among the ideal states.

Back to Louise

This is a continuation from last chapter of my client Louise’s story of doing feelingwork, in her words.

The First Shift

“After mapping this first, intense emotion, (Crumbling), we shifted it. I began the shifting process by looking at the color. What color did it most want to be? Yellow. The color stayed the same. I was disappointed. I tried to make it a new color but it stayed stubbornly yellow. I moved on. Particles swirling and sinking moved into a solid pillar in my center. I felt it. It felt warm. Like the warmth of stone in the sun. It felt solid under my hand. It felt good.

“Each element of the feeling was very clear. I was surprised at the clarity of each part of the feeling. I tried making it cooler but that didn’t feel right. The temperature was very specific. Warmer than body temperature but not hot. The color was specific. I tried making it lighter, then darker. It would shift reluctantly and immediately I would start to loose track of the good feeling. I brought it back to the state where it felt best. I tried changing the shape. It wouldn’t budge. I allowed everything to return to its perfect state. A feeling of strength, calm and confidence flooded over me. It felt right. The experience of shifting the feeling left me stunned. It moved quickly and the feeling of relief and lightness was sweeping and overwhelming.”

Physical Awareness

“One of the most surprising and intense parts of this process is the physical feeling that accompanies the emotional states. It feels like a real realignment is happening within, not only your mind and your emotional state, but in your physical being as well. Shifting a strong emotion was commonly accompanied by a feeling of tingling all through my body, lightness, and excitement.”

Core Strength — (formerly Crumbling)

Feeling description: Hot bath temperature; slowing down, lighter weight, like a solid, all holding together, all the particles, hard, heavy, upright, like sandstone; a warm, yellow-gold, shimmery solid color; up through my core, a foot in diameter, through whole torso; has weight but not heaviness, solidity but not rigid; there's energy movement in it; energy that takes the form of a solid; a pulse all the way through it, heartbeat-speed. A warm, humming sound like a beehive or something. Seems like the pulse would change and adjust depending on circumstances.

Thoughts/beliefs: Forward movement, a reaching out into full experience and true understanding and awareness. Fully awake, aware and receptive without fear of threat. “It's OK." It's a safe state of just being.

Core Strength

Description:

Feeling description: Hot bath temperature; slowing down, lighter weight, like a solid, all holding together, all the particles, hard, heavy, upright, like sandstone; a warm, yellow-gold, shimmery solid color; up through my core, a foot in diameter, through whole torso; has weight but not heaviness, solidity but not rigid; there's energy movement in it; energy that takes the form of a solid; a pulse all the way through it, heartbeat-speed. A warm, humming sound like a beehive or something. Seems like the pulse would change and adjust depending on circumstances.

Thoughts/Beliefs:

Thoughts/beliefs: Forward movement, a reaching out into full experience and true understanding and awareness. Fully awake, aware and receptive without fear of threat. “It's OK." It's a safe state of just being.

Shifting Isolated Outside to Inclusive

“The next feeling I mapped was a strong feeling state I called Isolated Outside. I have always felt on the outside of things. Like a shadow observing but never invited to enter. I saw the whole world of social interactions as something I could never really be a part of. I felt comfortable interacting with one other person, but I always kept my distance emotionally and kept a very solid invisible wall around myself. In groups, I felt isolated as though everyone involved was a part of something I didn’t have the ability to understand. ‘You’re so quiet’ is a comment I heard many times. I would smile sweetly and say something elusive and somehow people got the idea I was intelligent. I was happy to allow that perception when in reality felt lost and wary and lonely, and lacking in whatever it was everyone else seemed to have. I discovered that Isolated Outside is a part of self I developed in response to being so sensitive to people. A simple phrase that may or may not have been intended as a criticism or ridicule would just about destroy me. I kept an uninterested cool exterior image as a front to hide how fragile I felt.

“I shifted Isolated Outside and I discovered a space around me that felt safe and that I influenced. It pulsed. It felt like a warm yellow light all around me. I saw it as a space where people could exist in my life. It was a space I held and it was a part of me but it was removed enough that what happened there could not destroy me. This was a huge relief. I look back at my self in this state and feel a deep sense of compassion, as though my self in that state were an undeveloped me, too young to understand but still kind of cute in its fumbling way.

“Moving this part changed my interactions immediately. I began making friends quickly. People I had known on an acquaintance basis for months or years got closer. The only thing that changed was me and all I did was shift my awareness of, and reaction to, other people. I created a space to let them in. I realize now that many people also feel shy or insecure or self-conscious at times. I am not the only one. This realization has transformed my interactions with people. I always felt judged by others because I was so harshly judging myself. Other people’s reactions to me shifted. As I became more at ease in my self, people around me became more at ease in my presence. It has led to a wonderful unfolding in my social, professional, and personal relationships.”

Isolated Outside

I’m standing back from the feeling. It’s out in front, spherical, four feet in diameter; like a dense, foggy cloud, charcoal dark gray, wispy on the edges, dense in the middle, but you can run your hand through it, not solid. Kind of cold and damp. Just floating, pretty still. Total silence. Dense feeling at my heart, very dense but moisturey and gray and very cold. It’s like the cloud is coming out from my center, cold, and then it forms this cloud and gets cool and damp and less intense and bigger, like moisture particles.

I can see what's coming from here. So I'm safer back here. I can see what might come at me, so that I'm ready. It's safer here.

Inclusive

Body temp; lighter, pure energy; gold, shimmering, translucent; moving with a lot of energy, constant movement, little particles vibrating, humming; radiating out from my core in all directions; pulses in and out, very gently; there's a pulse but there's no real end; it's continuously radiating out of my core. Going out and coming back, like breathing, rate of comfortable breath. Sound is like a breath.

You carry all the protection you need inside of you. It creates a space that other people can move into; there's this gentle pulse, allowing things in, including other people in the pulse of the interaction.

Isolated Outside

Description:

I’m standing back from the feeling. It’s out in front, spherical, four feet in diameter; like a dense, foggy cloud, charcoal dark gray, wispy on the edges, dense in the middle, but you can run your hand through it, not solid. Kind of cold and damp. Just floating, pretty still. Total silence. Dense feeling at my heart, very dense but moisturey and gray and very cold. It’s like the cloud is coming out from my center, cold, and then it forms this cloud and gets cool and damp and less intense and bigger, like moisture particles.

Thoughts/Beliefs:

I can see what's coming from here. So I'm safer back here. I can see what might come at me, so that I'm ready. It's safer here.

Inclusive

Description:

Body temp; lighter, pure energy; gold, shimmering, translucent; moving with a lot of energy, constant movement, little particles vibrating, humming; radiating out from my core in all directions; pulses in and out, very gently; there's a pulse but there's no real end; it's continuously radiating out of my core. Going out and coming back, like breathing, rate of comfortable breath. Sound is like a breath.

Thoughts/Beliefs:

You carry all the protection you need inside of you. It creates a space that other people can move into; there's this gentle pulse, allowing things in, including other people in the pulse of the interaction.

Two Weeks Later

“After mapping and moving several states over the last two weeks, I love how this process has a path that you follow. And each part really couldn't be any other way. It just is. It's like a discovery. I like how each layer unfolds naturally. It's not forced. And the few times I have tried to make it be something I thought it should be, Joe stopped me, to focus on just experiencing, unfolding the next piece, to see what it is. I could tell when I was getting off track, but it's hard not to have ideas. I've been working on that. This work really can’t be forced.

“I can start to feel it coming into place. Last week I felt really disoriented. As more things get shifted and mapped, there's this real feeling of peace and acceptance. I was just sitting here watching the seagulls and clouds, and I was in this feeling of timelessness.”

Final Comments on Louise’s Experience

Louise’s description of her experience before and after shifting Crumbling and Isolated Outside is typical of many people doing the work. Isolated Outside was central to the experience of the entire set of feeling states, playing a role I call a pivot.

Shifting a pivot state can sometimes result in the entire set letting go of its reactive configuration and becoming free to find a new way of being. When I work with people who have limited time, we generally strive to identify and shift a pivot state. It’s preferable, though, to do more thorough work, identifying the full set of parts in their reactive states, and moving each one to its ideal, then supporting the ideal states in integrating. In our work together, Louise and I did a fairly complete job of that, contributing to the significance of her overall shift.


Would you like to be part of this?

I invite you to become part of a nascent community of people thinking about what this work means and how to apply it, even as they enjoy the benefits of applying it directly in their own lives.

At this early point, “community” means a hub-and-spoke wheel of relationships around me and this website. I will send out occasional newsletters to a small list, and invite you to one-on-one or small-group conversations to share more about the work and invite your input about what you would like to see in the next phase.

Please consider getting involved in this early phase by signing up below for my newsletter. Let me know if there is something more you would like to discuss personally, and I’ll respond to you directly.

Finally, if you would like to receive resources to support your exploration of feelingwork, including audio files to lead you through the process, plus both manual and digital templates for drawing and taking notes, please let me know.

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Posted: September 7, 2020
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© Copyright 2020, Joe Shirley