Feeling our way back to Peace.

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Seeking appears to be central to the human condition.At our core, we aspire to be at peace with ourselves, with others, to attain contentment. Like a compass, this search for contentment drives our lives and our behaviors. It fuels religious fervor; the burgeoning self-help industry; workaholism; the legal and the illicit drug industries; it funds tens of thousands of yoga retreats annually and over 30,000 new users of meditation apps per day in the United States alone. As we move through our days yearning for contentment, we experience stress, anxiety, frustration, shame, physical discomfort. We accept these as an inevitable part of life. Maneuvering through these obstacles, we constantly look for inner peace; we look for it outside of ourselves, convinced that eventually—with perseverance and some good luck—we will find the practice, or the community, or the philosophy which will open the door to our contentment. Then, we will feel fearless, healthy, safe, and fulfilled.

As ancient texts and current self-improvement gurus tell us: we already possess what we are looking for. Imagine a state of contentment and inner peace as the default for each one of us. What if all our efforts are driven by a primal need to recover a lost default state of peace?

What keeps us away from this state? The goal-directed seeking, the cerebral effort of trying to “feel better” traps us in our own heads. We reanalyze the past and reconstruct or fear the future while ignoring the sensation of being in the present. Those of us more adept at being in the present have a tendency to be happier.

Why is this? As humans, we have a physiological capacity for resolving negative emotions. This innate capacity enables us to permanently integrate disruptive emotions through an active awareness of the physical sensations associated with each emotion. In other words, rather than trying to understand our pain or figure out how to avoid it, or how to control it, all we have to do in order to permanently resolve it, is to physically feel what constitutes our emotional pain. Our mind and body will do the rest. The answer to our emotional difficulties is literally within each emotion.

Through the hundreds of sessions that I have done with clients, I have witnessed how any emotional struggle, stress, isolation or disconnectedness can be permanently regulated by tapping into this physiologic capacity for emotional regulation. Our body is “wired” to integrate and resolve our stresses, we just have to let it do its work.

Not surprisingly, a stress-free mind begets a healthier body. After years of working with clients who struggle with emotional difficulties, we noticed that their chronic physical ailments, such as eczema, asthma, arthritis, tinnitus, among others, resolve or improve as they regulate their emotional distress. This finding suggested that if the body is not under chronic stress it is better empowered to fight or neutralize disease or inflammation. Based on this observation, we developed an efficient protocol for resolving physical ailments by specifically targeting the stressors which create or exacerbate the physical symptoms. Once the stressors are identified, we can resolve them by using the natural capacity for emotional regulation. We all have the opportunity to live a life free from pain; we can access it when we stop running away from our fears or trying to control them. Instead, we need to take the time to observe, recognize, and accept our behavioral patterns. Once we accept them, once we physically feel our fears, we become free of them, one by one. As a result, our body becomes healthier and stronger.

It is never too early or too late to start. Are you going to start?

Jessica’s Story of Overcoming Anger

A woman looking up and enjoying a peaceful sunset. Seeking help overcoming anger with your children.

Consciously or subconsciously, we humans are constantly impacted by the moods and emotions of others. In fact, we go so far as to push each other’s buttons just because there is “juice” there! Did you ever notice that when we are triggered, the people around us can sense it and their mood or demeanor shifts? Often they do not even realize why they feel this inner shift.  This phenomenon is common in adults and children alike. I very clearly remember working with a 35 year old single mother, Jessica.  Jessica contacted me last year seeking help with the intense anger she felt toward her 6-year-old daughter. Most of the time, the anger was triggered by little things, like her daughter not being able to choose between two pairs of shoes or taking too long to get dressed. It is common for parents to have occasional feelings of anger toward their children. Even when they intellectually understand that something is not worth getting upset about, they just CAN’T help it! The anger can be overwhelming.  And after they’ve blown up and the child is crying, they feel guilty and terrible about themselves. They resolve to be more patient. Still, the pattern plays itself out time and time again. It is hard on the child, the parent, the co-parent—the whole family.

In Jessica’s case, she would get extremely frustrated and angry when her daughter was slow to get ready, couldn’t make a decision, or left her toys lying around. The frustration was so intense at times that Jessica, a sweet and charming woman, had to walk away from her daughter to scream and punch something—a door, a pillow, anything.

I want to take a second here to recognize that it takes a lot of courage for a parent to acknowledge this kind of behavior and to seek help. Many would be too ashamed, afraid of being judged, to take the steps toward change.  But Jessica was committed to a close relationship with her daughter. She could see that her behavior was making the girl feel sad and afraid.

Jessica heard about my work with emotional regulation through a girlfriend who attended one of my monthly free trainings.  We met in my office in San Francisco for the session. As I usually do, I asked her how long she will need to notice whether her anger has resolved. I explained that once a negative emotion has been resolved, it will never return.  Jessica chuckled and said: “I will know tonight or tomorrow morning! But let’s wait a couple of weeks, just to be sure”. So we booked our follow up appointment in two weeks and, feeling confident that she had resolved her anger, I was eager for the follow-up.

When the day finally came, as I opened the door Jessica was standing there with a huge smile:
“I don’t know what you did, but it worked!” she said. I asked her to tell me about it, “Well …”, she continued, “I did not get upset once in the morning, not once! That has never happened before”.  I said that it was wonderful and congratulated her on the work she accomplished during our session.  “Wait, there is more to it!” she said. Since the session, her daughter was noticeably better about cleaning up after herself, getting ready in the morning, and choosing between her pink or white sneakers without anybody having to plead with or push or frighten her!

It made total sense: mom got rid of her button and, instead of feeling blocked or afraid, the child could make decisions peacefully, naturally, easily!

Jessica shared another effect of our session. The eczema she had on her neck for several months disappeared within a few days of our work together.
Sometimes this happens after a session—it is just the body saying “thank you!”

Let me wrap up by saying that the solution to our emotional problems is definitely inside of us. Often, the best way to change a difficult situation is to change our behavior. To do this reliably, we must heal our emotions. And all of us can do that, our body has the natural capacity for it. The greatest challenge is recognizing and acknowledging our patterns. Once we have identified them, regulating the dysfunctional emotions is straightforward. And the impact is powerful, on our life and on the lives of people around us.

If you’re interested in learning more about Tipi and discussing if it could help you or clients you work with, join us for one of our free monthly events, or schedule a free consultation with me here.

Performance anxiety

Man running at twilight. Managing performance anxiety fears and being successful.

If you have experienced a parched throat, clammy hands, and the heat of your mind going blank in the middle of a critical presentation for which you prepared ceaselessly; or if you have dreaded getting on stage at the karaoke work party; or if, after a perfectly planned and artfully executed date you cannot get or keep an erection, you have struggled with performance anxiety. 
It’s the worst, and most of us have experienced it at some point in some aspect of our lives. In sports, performance anxiety can make a talented athlete “choke” in spite of countless hours of practice. How many people out there perform with consistent excellence when they train only to give a poor performance in a competitive setting: how enraging and unfair! 
How many musicians do you know who work so hard at their craft to achieve perfection, then freeze up on stage, feeling self-conscious and unnatural, unable to share their gift and connect deeply with the audience.

In those circumstances, we freeze up not because we do not know the material.
Our nervousness—the tense sensations inside of us— is overwhelming us, not allowing us to be present to the situation, taking away our control of our thoughts and our body. Managing our fear takes so much of our energy that we have very little left to accomplish anything else.

The problem is that one experience with performance anxiety can give rise to a long-term pattern. 
If we live though a very difficult or embarrassing experience, chances are that next time we are in a similar situation we are going to dread it, before and often during.

Can you guess what I am about to tell you? Yes, of course performance anxiety can and should be resolved! 
 You can be in control of your body and your mind as you move through all aspects of life—it’s much more enjoyable this way. 
 Being anxious as we are about to present an important project over which we have toiled or—worse—when we are about to make love is completely unfair and illogical.
 Remember—every regulation makes us more free and complete, so please do not hesitate.

Take care of yourself, be well, be fearless, be your best you!

Overcoming past traumas

Woman blowing bubbles. No one has to live with the weight of past trauma or depression

We have all seen how a single traumatic experience can lead to years, even decades, of depression or PTSD. I know for a fact that no one has to live with the weight of past trauma or depression. Through years of practice in emotional regulation I have had the privilege of helping many individuals overcome their depression, chronic anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. To be completely honest, I did practically nothing; these women and men placed their pain in front of them, felt it in their bodies, surrendered to it, and regulated it.

I would be lying if I were to claim that a single emotional regulation session can fully resolve a trauma. Most of the time one traumatic experience leads to several painful emotional repercussions. A trauma survivor needs to examine his daily life and identify the past's manifestations on life today. During an emotional regulation session we always work from within the present. The traumatic event does not need to be revisited--a huge relief for many survivors of trauma. In fact, when it comes to healing old emotional wounds, we consider that working on the inciting trauma is counterproductive because the memories are too charged, too old, or distorted.

How does trauma stay stuck in us? Neuroscientists and psychologists have begun to understand why the impact of a traumatic experience is so deeply rooted, despite a multitude of subsequent positive experiences. Trauma elicits such an intense multifactorial physiological response, flooding the body with stress hormones, that the associated memories reside in the limbic system. As renowned neuroscientist Joseph Ledoux explains in his book "Anxious", from the moment the traumatic memory is created, every subsequent situation that contains elements which our “limbic system” associates with the trauma will provoke a danger signal with associated physiologic responses. This set of sensations cannot be overruled by our intellect because it isn't generated by the forebrain. That's why it is impossible to "logic our way out" of trauma and why talk therapy often fails.

How does Emotional Resolution integrate a Trauma? In their books "The body keeps the score " and “In an unspoken voice”, Van Der Kolk and Peter Levine outlined how the physical sensations felt during our emotional difficulties create a clear and direct path to the origin of our traumas. When we consciously experience the sensations present in our body during an emotion without trying to control or understand them, we allow the forebrain to reconnect to the data stored in the limbic system; data that was until then isolated. Once this reconnection happens, the result is spontaneous and permanent, meaning that the emotional pattern felt until then will end. We will have to work, step by step, regulating one emotional pattern at the time.

Once a person is ready to let go of the suffering, to release the pain of past trauma, a healing process is available. Our body is waiting for our mind to be ready to heal. If you would like more information about this work, or if you want to experience regulating difficult emotions, visit CedricBertelli.com.

Emotional Resolution is Sexy

Peaceful fountain scene. A person who is not preoccupied with his emotional baggage—be that anxiety, lack of self-confidence, or shyness— is fully available to his partner

How is Emotional Resolution sexy? I am so glad you asked! Let’s turn the problem around by looking at a specific example. Do you know what is NOT sexy? A nervous guy, blushing, sweating, and searching for his words as he approaches his date. Maybe cute… but not sexy. You know what else is not sexy? A dude getting drunk to build up his courage, trying to impress his buddies and the women around him. That guy is not even cute. I am not judging here—I have been there and done that.

Now, if we stay in that same context, why is an emotionally regulated man sexy? Simply, because a man who is not preoccupied with his emotional baggage—be that anxiety, lack of self-confidence, or shyness— is fully available to his partner. He is more present, has the ability to listen, feels compassionate. 
He is neither building nor maintaining a persona, he is not keeping up his guard, pretending, or avoiding a meaningful connection.

If we are busy trying to hide or control our emotional stuff when we interact with someone, we lose so much of the connection, of what is said, of our instincts, of our cognitive capacity. And this is true for any interaction: dating, interviewing for a job, chatting with our parents (who are experts at pushing our buttons), public speaking…

It is not right to think: “I AM a nervous person, I AM shy, and that’s just the way it is, so I must either surrender to it or fight my own nature all of my life”! These emotions do not define us—they are based in fear: old fears, obsoletes fears—and they can be regulated. Once we stop identifying ourselves by these emotions, we can regulate them through Emotional Resolution; one at a time. Letting go of those emotional difficulties does not cut away parts of our personality. On the contrary, it allows us to become whole, to integrate those blocks that limits us, those walls that prevent us from being who we really are at our core.

Resolve your difficult emotions… Do it for yourself, and for those around you, they deserve to have your full attention.

Can Emotional Resolution Replace Therapy?

Woman walking on a beach. Emotional Resolution and therapy: recognize a pattern, stop identifying with the pattern, take ownership of our emotional pain, accept and let go of an emotional pattern.

That’s a question I get very often. No, Emotional Resolution is not intended to replace or to be a substitute for psychotherapy because psychotherapy and emotional regulation have different goals. Psychotherapy aims at intellectual and emotional exploration, cognitively identitying reasons for certain thoughts or feelings. Emotional Resolution is based in somatic sensations to bring about the resolution of unproductive or injurious feelings without the need for intellectual introspection. For me, the two approaches are complementary, and should often be used hand-in-hand.

Once a disruptive pattern is identified, it can be regulated through our natural capacity for emotional regulation. The regulation is the most straightforward part of the process. What we often find challenging is:

  • Recognizing a pattern

  • Ceasing to identify with a pattern

  • Taking ownership of our emotional pain instead of blaming it on external events or on our past

  • Accepting to let goof an emotional pattern. For all of this, psychotherapy or coaching is extremely useful.

However, once a person is ready to let go of—to resolve—the emotional difficulties from which they suffer, then emotional regulation is the best way to do so.

Why is it the best way? First of all, it is the most natural way. Our body is naturally built to regulate recurring emotions—no need to reinvent the wheel!

It is painless, both physically and emotionally. Dealing with emotional pain is hard enough, don’t you think? It is exhausting, even soul-crushing, casting a shadowy veil on every clear day we could have. Thankfully, the actual resolution is painless.

Finally, emotional resolution is fast, the physical sensations which are present during an emotion offer the most direct way to the origin of the difficulty.

Many of us, myself included, have experienced therapy. Maybe it’s a few sessions, maybe a sustained treatment course. Many find the self-examination and introspection of therapy quite useful—it helps us to understand the “script” of thoughts we play in our head. Unfortunately, understanding / accepting our emotional script and changing it are two very different things. 
If you feel ready to flip your script, then emotional regulation is for you.

Your body is ready. Is your mind?

Stop Trying so hard…

Neon Sign that says work harder in blue. Stop and accept who we truly are. Overcome fear, stress, anger. Feel more self confident.

It seems that everywhere I look, there are workshops, apps, videos there to improve my life, make me a better man, more efficient, more connected.

Because you know: you’ve got to have a better life, make more money, be a “Boss”, be a better person…

So Yes! We take workshops, follow Gurus, Webinars, we read the latest book on spirituality, Self-Improvement, watch videos of exciting talks on YouTube - drooling on how awesome it must feel to be Tony Robbins; reading inspiring quotes that pop up on our Facebook page (those are just awesome!) …

We are trying so hard, so damn hard!!

I am no expert. But what if... we are trying too hard?

What if the idea was to stop trying, and to just accept? Accept who we truly are.

Once we accept ourselves - our good sides and our shadows; we start to evolve, without trying, without having to push through things or fears, without trying to always change or improve.

We are not only kind, strong, generous, helpful, courageous... we can also be a coward, racist, homophobic, egoistic, scared, angry, unsecured, cheap… and it’s all completely fine, if we stop lying to ourselves.

When we live our lives without accepting who we truly are, life will simply materialize situations that reflect the parts of us we don’t want to see. Over and over again. Once we accept who we are, life just stops bringing on the same patterns.

The true question is who are we? Who are we really?

What are these parts of us that we don’t like? These parts that some of us spend a hell of a lot of energy hiding (from others and ourselves), controlling, and placing blame?

We put so much effort on we want others to see, to like, to respect, and at times, to fear…but when we stop and simply accept who we are, things start to change, to shift, to become more peaceful, more exciting, lighter. Then, we can naturally evolve and grow.

So, fine… accepting, that’s interesting; how do you do that concretely?

It is quite easy to get started to see the impact of accepting, immediately. The good news is that it is not just a theory – it is something you can apply right away in your life.

When we are feeling an uncomfortable emotion (fear, stress, anger, hatred, judgement, jealousy, deep sadness without reason) …Simply stop and feel.

Don’t run, don’t scream, don’t take a deep breath, don’t control the feelings, don’t grab a drink or do yoga; don’t sit down to meditate on the deeper meaning or the reason of your feeling or behavior.

Stop. Close your eyes, and notice what physical sensations are present in your body. Become physically aware of what this emotion feels in you and stay connected to your physical sensations and observe them as they evolve. You will see that the sensations are not staying static, but will start to change, to transform…observe the sensations for as they change (they will not evolve longer that 1.5 minutes, most of the time they will dissipate within 45 seconds). Once your body feels calm, quiet; open your eyes.

That’s it.

Recognize what is there in you; even if it’s not pretty. Become intimate with it, physically experiencing what this emotion is made of (without doing anything else than consciously surrendering to the physical sensations).

That is Emotional Resolution. Simply Human and Natural.

Our life can change by itself, if we stop trying to change it, to fix it, to control it. Permanent changes and growth come from this place.

Are you willing to give it a try?