One of the (many) reasons we love psychotherapist Barry Michels is because he has a tool for everything. He has tools to regulate your thoughts, prepare you to be triggered, and process your emotional wounds. All of his tools – which you can read about in The Tools and Coming Alive – help tackle what he and co-author Phil Stutz call Part X, the inner voice that makes us believe we deserve neither happiness nor fulfillment .
In his new video series Soul Diving, Michels explains in a few minutes how to redesign everyday emotional challenges. In this week’s video (above), he talks about the relationship between self-confidence and willpower, and how making commitments to yourself can transform your relationship with both of them.
Below, he explains the steps to use the Black Sun Tool, a visualization exercise that can help anyone practice self-control.
Notes on using the Black Sun tool
Most of the time we don’t give in to our impulses; We look forward to the moment when we give in. Use this tool the moment Part X is flooding you with every kind of self-destructive urge – checking your emails, losing your temper, etc. Used repeatedly, this tool will train you should stop indulging those impulses and yourself instead turn inward.
The tool in short steps
Deprivation: Feel the deprivation of not getting what you want as intense as possible. Then let go of what you want. Forget the outside world as the source of everything that will replenish you inside; make it go away.
Emptiness: Look inside yourself. What was a feeling of deprivation is now an endless void. See it. Stay calm and still.
Abundance: Imagine from the depths of the void a black sun rising and expanding inward until you become one with its warm, limitless energy.
Giving: Focus your attention on the outside world. The energy of the Black Sun will overflow and gush out of you. When it enters the world, it becomes a pure white light of infinite giving.
Refill your life force
When Part X leads you to indulge your impulses, it is trying to steal your life force. Self-control not only preserves your life force; it increases it. When you hold back an impulse, the lower, greedy energy is converted into a higher one that gives energy and increases your life force.
Barry Michels holds a BA from Harvard; a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley; and an MSW from the University of Southern California. Since 1986 he has been working as a psychotherapist in his own practice. Together with Phil Stutz, he is the author of The Tools and Coming Alive.
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