One cannot access an upset that is not happening in the moment. So when an upset does happen, we’d be insane not to use that circumstance to flatten what lies at the root of it.
Yesterday I suddenly was gripped with a feeling that was like being hit by a bolt of lightning or being strapped in an electric chair and having the lever pulled (not like I’ve experienced either!). It seemed as if I would explode into a thousand pieces and ignited a raft of symptoms in me that drained every ounce of energy I had and left me practically blubbering.
And then these symptoms disappeared as quickly as they had come.
At every point what bothered me was how foolish I must have looked. I looked foolish feeling as if I would explode. I looked foolish in the condition I was left in, not being able to remember anything, erupting in what felt like a stress reaction the moment I moved in any direction, fearful of falling apart. I looked foolish recovering so quickly. I feared that I looked foolish at every step.
Clearly I have a charge on looking foolish and not using the opportunity of feeling foolish to flatten that charge would be … well, foolish.
But before I turn to the upset itself, let’s look at what the alternative is. If I don’t clear that upset, then I lend a fresh charge to my fear of looking foolish. I now have one more thing to add to my rap list of times I looked stupid and covered it up. If I go that route, I sink deeper and deeper into upset until at last I become coralized, fossilized, petrified. Then all my behavior becomes automatic. I end up in a rocking chair saying, “I remember him, by crackey. Those were the days.”
So what I’m suggesting is the alternative to that. I’m suggesting what used to be called, in the circles I travelled in, “sourcing” the upset – getting to the source of the upset – and then clearing myself of it by re-experiencing the feelings that were blocked at the time of the original occurrence,
I call this the upset clearing process. Let me use it here to get at what is driving my upset and clear it, flatten it, re-experience it completely.
I already know that what I fear in this instance is looking foolish. Either I have made a fool of myself or the cabal has made a food of me – it matters not which. I am still driven by a fear of looking foolish. So I’ve already accomplished the first step in the process, which is to identify what the feeling is that is driving me.
I then go on to the next step and ask myself to locate a picture, a memory, a word or phrase that identifies the original incident in which I stopped experiencing around this issue, in which I dropped out of the flow of life and began resisting. I know that, if it’s a picture I’ll see, that picture will shoot by me at a mile a minute. Or that feeling, or word, or phrase. If I’m to catch it, I almost have to intuitively grab it.
And something does shoot by me.
I see myself standing in the lunchroom of my high school and I’m doing something silly, something like having a food fight or pushing someone around. And the high-school Vice Principal comes into the room and tells me to come down to his office and see him.
And when I do, he asks me to explain myself and we get into an argument. And during the course of it, I say something stupid. I remember what I said but it was too stupid for me to want to repeat it. It’s enough that I remember it. And he ridiculed me for what I said and I tried to explain it away.
I could have said, “You’re right. That was stupid. I did what I did and I deserve what I get,” but I tried to dodge the bullet.
I’ve never tried to make what I said right but I’ve hidden it. So now I stop the clock back at that frozen moment in time and rest in the experience of blocking that forms the original upset. I rest in the moment allowing myself to completely re-experience the incident without this time making excuses or changing even an iota of it. I remain in the experience of it. Minutes pass.
And now I have completed the experience of it, without denying any part of it or acting on the energy that has me block and deny. I am through the incident and out the other side of it and this time I did not energize or make right my original action. I have created a new track and am freed up from the old, half-remembered pattern.
A way of being that I’ve run unconsciously throughout my life, that resulted in my fear of looking foolish, has now been consciously run from beginning to end, without me reacting. I’ve felt my embarrassment, my stupid words, my response to them, and any other aspects of the situation that also needed experiencing.
And again, as I’ve said in the past, the truth has set me free from the upset. Having seen what really is driving me in this present moment, and known it in its original dimension as an event that happened when I was perhaps fourteen, I’m not at this moment run by the same feelings I had then. I no longer feel myself recoil in the face of feeling foolish. I may feel weary from whatever it is that happened yesterday, but not incomplete.
I’m giving more words to it because this is what I’m recommending we all do to clear out our old business. If I were to search for other words to describe how I feel on the other side of the upset, I would say that I feel restored to self, back again in the center, back in balance, with nothing to hide and nothing to defend.
I may or may not have flattened the “record” of the past, but I have eased its grip on me. I may have to run through that record a few more times but, if I do, each time I expect it to be easier.
When events start to speed up in the months ahead and all our paradigms come under challenge, this is what we’ll need to do: clear the old baggage out of the way by being with and observing what is below the incident in question. Rather than feeling defensive and projecting our old business onto others, I recommend re-experiencing the original upset until the charge we have on that long-past event is drained off and we are set free from our habitual responses.
If we process one upset after another like this, we move closer and closer to being present. The alternative is to refuse to re-experience our old business and end up as lifeless and as solid as a petrified tree.