“Let’s start at the very beginning,
a very good place to start…”
- Julie Andrews
It is best to start where we are today. There are no judgements about what we have not done in the past. We did the best we could with the tools we had learned. Perhaps that is why we are here together, to share and grow skills so that tomorrow can be different. What is it that drew you to this book? What is it you hope to learn? How important is that to you? These are important questions. You may be motivated but want a quick answer. So, go ahead and jump ahead to the topic that calls to you. It is OK. But then, come back here, start at the beginning, and continue. The topics in this book build on one another. So later chapters are easier to understand if you have completed the earlier chapters. So, be here now. Take a moment to answer some questions and take the time to practice the exercises along the way.
This is your journey, so enjoy it rather than rush it. There are flavors of ice cream that I had never tried. I was too busy and set in my ways, eating the same flavor (which I still love). Now though, I have tried many flavors. Some I did not like, but now there are many others that I love. This is why we are together:
· To learn more about the range of life, through the language of emotions.
· To broaden our range of flavors of emotions rather than being stuck with one.
· To come to life more fully
Let's begin with some simple questions. There are no right or wrong answers. There are no trick questions, although some may be tricky, as you will understand later. I encourage you to take the time to think about these questions and to write down your answers. You may wish you had, later.
· Why did I pick up this book?
· What do I hope to learn?
· Am I satisfied with all the areas of my life?
· How would I like my life to be different?
· Am I worthy of such a change?
· Am I able to commit to the effort needed to achieve this goal?
· Am I willing to commit to the effort needed to achieve this goal?
· Starting when?
· Do I understand why I have these emotions?
· Which emotion is most troubling to me (there may be more than one)?
· What sensations occur in my body when I experience this feeling?
· What thoughts go through my head when I have this feeling?
· What images go through my mind when I have this feeling?
· Does it seem like this feeling is permanent?
· Is this feeling permanent?
o If I think the answer is Yes, am I absolutely sure?
· What does this feeling need to be able to change?
· Am I willing to acknowledge my blind spots?
· Do I have the tools I need to make changes?
· Do I have a diverse toolbox of coping strategies?
· Do I know how my brain works, in basic terms?
· Do I know how my autopilot mind sets me up for trouble, or happiness?
· Has trauma affected my emotions?
· Am I aware of the emotional baggage I carry from my past?
· Am I aware of a range of things that make me feel fear, anger, joy, compassion and respect?
· Am I aware of how my emotions have impacted my relationships?
· Do I understand the role of emotional patterns in the development of addictive behavior patterns?
· Does my culture affect my experience of emotion?
· When I make changes, do I know how to effectively make them remain consistently?
You may notice that some of the answers to these questions are easy and some are difficult. You may find that some are complicated. As we journey together through this book, you will be able to answer differently. Each chapter will have different exercises to explore and deepen your understanding of the topic, to practice application of tools and to learn new skills that will be used later. Take the time to complete the exercises. They build on one another, so later exercises may be less effective if you did not practice the earlier ones. Again, this is your journey. Approach it as you please, these are simply suggestions to help get the most from this process.