One of the (many) reasons we love psychotherapist Barry Michels is that he has a tool for everything. He has tools for regulating your thoughts, preparing to get triggered, and processing your emotional wounds. All of his tools—which you can read about in The Tools and Coming Alive—help tackle what he and coauthor Phil Stutz call Part X, the inner voice that makes us believe we’re not worthy of happiness or fulfillment.
In his new video series, Soul Diving, Michels explains ways to reframe everyday emotional challenges in just a few minutes. In this week’s video (above), he talks about the connection between confidence and willpower and how keeping commitments to yourself can change your relationship to both.
Below, he shares the steps to using the Black Sun tool, which is a visualization exercise that can help anyone exercise self-restraint.
Cues to Use the Black Sun Tool
Most of the time we’re not indulging our impulses; we’re looking forward to the moment we will give in. Use this tool at the moment Part X floods you with any kind of self-defeating urge—to check your email, lose your temper, etc. Used repeatedly, this tool will train you to stop giving in to these impulses and turn inward instead.
The Tool in Brief Steps
Deprivation: Feel the deprivation of not getting what you want, as intensely as possible. Then let go of the thing you want. Forget about the outside world as a source of anything that will fill you up inside; let it disappear.
Emptiness: Look inside yourself. What was a feeling of deprivation is now an endless void. Face it. Remain calm and still.
Fullness: From the depths of the void, imagine a Black Sun ascends, expanding inside until you become one with its warm, limitless energy.
Giving: Redirect your attention to the outside world. The Black Sun energy will overflow, surging out of you. As it enters the world, it becomes a pure, white light of infinite giving.
Replenishing Your Life Force
When Part X is tempting you to give in to your impulses, what it’s trying to do is steal your Life Force. Self-restraint not only preserves your Life Force; it increases it. When you hold an impulse back, the lower, greedy energy is transformed into a higher, giving energy, increasing your Life Force.
Barry Michels has a BA from Harvard; a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley; and an MSW from the University of Southern California. He has been in private practice as a psychotherapist since 1986. With Phil Stutz, he is the author of The Tools and Coming Alive.
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