Emotional Healing Technique – Garnering Courage

by Mark Ivar Myhre on July 2, 2011

In my last blog post I claimed the biggest secret to emotional healing is to be willing to feel all your feelings. Because when you open your heart full and wide and take it all in, then your heart can do its job.  Namely, to process out all the stagnant energy that gets trapped all around your body.

Also, pain always results when you don’t open your heart full and wide. Pain comes from separation.  Being separate from something you long for.  And since your heart longs to feel, when we block our flow of feelings from entering our heart, that will create pain.

In this article I want to challenge you to take this fool’s step of opening up your heart full and wide. I know it goes against our programming – our conditioning – our subconscious beliefs…  Shoot, it almost goes against ‘common sense’.

Plus, as soon as we do open up and feel, it can seem overwhelming.  Especially if you have a brutal past.  There’s a lot of stuff ‘down there’.  It might be too much to handle.  So what can do about that?

Take it one step at a time.  Practice.  Pace yourself.  Besides, it’s more the fear of being overwhelmed, rather than really being overwhelmed.  It’s the fear.   Not the overwhelm.  It’s the fear.  And that’s what I want to talk about today.

See, it’s easy for me to sit here and challenge you to stretch beyond your current level of existence.  It’s easy to say the words.  And it’s easy for you to nod your head in agreement.  Plus, when it’s time to take the test, you can easily check off the right answer:

Question 18:  The best way to feel better is to

a. Go numb and feel as little as possible.
b. Think your way out of feeling.
c. Blame somebody else.
d. Compartmentalize your feelings and bury them.
e. Open your heart full and wide and let all the feelings in so they can be processed by your heart.

It’s a slam dunk.  I’ll bet you could even write a 500-word essay on the topic.  Lord knows I’ve talked about it enough.

But when the rubber hits the road, it’s a different story, isn’t it?

That’s when all the theory of feeling better goes out the window and we return to what we know.  Which involves a knee-jerk reaction to channel our feelings into blame, or righteousness, or some sort of story or explanation of what those feelings mean, rather than to simply open up and feel them.  It’s a deeply ingrained habit.  So it’s not likely to change overnight, even when you want it to.

What’s the solution?

Well, first I’m going to assume you’re willing to give this a try.  (Big assumption, I know!)  But let’s say you figure, what the heck, what do I have to lose?  I can always go back to my old ways if this doesn’t work.  So now what?

It starts with being mindful of the situation.  Being mindful.  Being conscious; aware; present in the moment.  That way you’ll start to see your own unique patterns and habits of emotional suppression.

Be conscious of what you’re doing and saying and thinking and feeling. Be especially conscious of what you tell yourself all day long.  Listen to that little voice that’s sitting on your shoulder and whispering into your ear all day long.

Get to know your ego. Listen to what its saying.  Don’t assume what its telling you is true.  Stop being suckered.  Start questioning that voice more.  This is a fundamental step in emotional healing.  Know your ego!  It’s the part of you that’s closest to you.  It will be with you your whole life.  Beside, you’d die without it.

But you’ve got to stop letting it run your life! If you want to have any kind of meaningful existence, that is.  If you want to heal.  If you want to be happy and end misery.  If you want to have greater perception in life.  If you want to be more successful.  If you… you get the point.

You can learn more about the ego by clicking here.

Now, besides the ego there’s one more fundamental step I’d like to suggest.  You know how I mentioned the mindset of being willing to open up your heart full and wide and feel everything that comes up?  Here’s one thing that can help you do that.

It’s another mindset.  And to explain it, I’m going to remind you of an old Native American saying (at least from the movies, if not real life!) that says –

“Today is a good day to die.”

That’s the mindset I personally had to adopt so I could change myself.  Once I started thinking and feeling this way, I began to change much more rapidly.  Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

I mean, we’re talking about ending pain and misery and stepping into a whole new life of beauty and happiness and an aliveness that’s truly beyond words.  Where every single day can be an exhilarating experience.  That’s the promise of what can happen once you open your heart full and wide and let your heart do it’s job.

So why in the world would I say I need to adopt a mindset that says, today is a good day to die?

Because it takes that level of courage to change.

Let me state an obvious phenomenon.  It takes an enormous amount of pain to get us to face a little bit of fear. It’s hard to figure out why, but I see it over and over in talking to people.  And I’ve seen it in my own life as well.

Oh, it never starts out as fear.  Nobody admits the fear right away.  Usually, it’s something like, “I can’t change.” Or “I don’t know how to change.”  Or some similar statement.  No one hardly ever says, “I’m afraid to change.”

Instead, we cloak the fear in confusion or anger or pity or whatever.  It’s only when you strip away all the fluff do you come face to face with the raw fear.  And who in the world wants to come face to face with raw fear?  That’s scary!  Something bad might happen.

Well, I disagree.   Everything you want – everything your heart wants – is probably surrounded by fear right now.  Any genuine opportunity is going to be scary.  Any meaningful change is going to be scary.  Greater love, greater success, greater anything, is going to be scary.

When you stretch and grow that’s going to bring up fear.  Now, the more you work on yourself, the less fear that comes up.  I’m not saying you have to be overwhelmed with fear or else you stagnate…  But when you’re first starting out with something this fundamental as opening up your heart full and wide, there’s going to be fear.

If the serious contemplation of opening up your heart doesn’t make you scared, then you just haven’t gotten to the fear yet. Okay?  Cause it’s there.  Look, you’re supposed to be scared of this!  That’s just the nature of what we’re dealing with here.

So if you prepare yourself to begin with, by telling yourself ‘this is a good day to die’ – and meaning it – then you’ll get to what’s real quicker and easier.  You’ll cut through the blame and the stories and the nonsense quicker – and get to what’s real.

When you feel raw fear, then you know you’re getting close.

“Well jeez, Mark, I’m scared all the time.  Does that mean I’m close?”

This article is getting kind of long already, so I don’t want to take the time to explain the difference between raw fear and fear stories… but let me just say, if you’re ‘scared all the time’ then most definitely that is coming from fear stories and not real fear.

Real fears come and go quickly.  Fear stories drag on and on.  We work ourselves into a lather and get led around by our ego.  However, even if you are stuck in the fear stories, this advice will help you.  Especially if you’re stuck in fear stories, you would benefit from this mindset of –

Today is a good day to die.

What does that statement really mean?  That I’m going to engage in some sort of risky behavior?  Get psycho?  Suicidal?  Go jump off a cliff?  No, of course not.

When Native Americans were defending their country against the aggressors, when they faced vastly superior weaponry and sheer numbers of troops, when the odds were heavily against them, when they faced a steamroller, essentially, they had to go to war with a certain mindset.

They fought for something beyond their own lives, and beyond the lives of their loved ones. They fought for their values.  That’s not being suicidal.  That’s standing up for what’s real.  (Can you imagine the lively discussions they must’ve had about whether to fight or not?)

Native American Celebration

July 4th 2010 Celebration East Of Portland

The fight is bigger than the person. When I’m asking you to adopt the mindset of ‘today’s a good day to die’ I’m asking you to see the bigger picture.  Step back.  This isn’t just about you changing yourself, as important as that is.  This is about changing the world.

The more people who face their own fears and open up their hearts full and wide, the better the world becomes.  This isn’t just about you and me.  You know you were born for a reason bigger than yourself.  You know it.

It’s time to adopt a new mindset.  It’s time to open up your heart.  Even if it ‘kills’ you, quote-unquote.  Here’s what’s so funny.  The only thing that dies is your negativity.  That’s it; the parts of you that aren’t even really you.  Cause those raw fears you feel when you get seriously close to changing aren’t coming from the more admirable parts of you.  No.  They’re coming from the ‘lesser’ parts of you.

Your negativity is the only thing that will die. That’s what’s so ironic about all this.  You become more of who you truly are.  And less of who you are not.  That’s what happens when you open your heart.

Oh, but the stories you hear to the contrary!

I’d say, remember the bigger picture.  This is important.  Keep that in mind to help you adopt the mindset of “I’m going to be willing to change, even if it kills me”.  I’m going to be happy, successful, living a wonderful and alive life, even it that causes me to be struck dead.

I’m going to die anyway, sooner or later.  Everybody does.  I may as well live a little before I go.  So I’m going to stop pretending it’s anything other than fear that’s keeping things the way they are now.  I’ll walk into the ‘certain death’ of feeling my feelings in my heart instead of trying to feel them with my head.

Emotional Healing is a choice.

What will I decide to do with my life?

Then maybe I’ll come to understand on a deeper level, that whenever something dies, something else is reborn.  And in this case, if I let my pain and suffering die, I can let my greater love and greater happiness be born.  Is that really so bad?

Is today a good day to die, for me?


Sara July 6, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Hi Mark. Excellent article! You explain things so well, and I especially like the phrase: “…feeling my feelings in my heart instead of trying to feel them with my head.”

Along with your article, may I suggest something that is so important? It is to come out of DENIAL. Most of us live in so much denial: all the stuff we have “stuffed” because we didn’t know how to deal with it. You can’t heal anything as long as you pretend the wound doesn’t even exist. As we become older, and hopefully wiser, it will be easier to deal with many of those old issues and wounds. But, as you say Mark, it takes COURAGE to even look at them, and acknowledge them.

We all have more courage than we give ourselves credit for. It’s time to take it off the dusty shelf and put it to good use! When we do, our lives truly can change for the better.

Mark Ivar Myhre July 7, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Hey Sara, thanks for the feedback!

yes, denial is a big issue. The problem I see, is that when I’m in denial, I don’t (or won’t ) even recognize I’m in denial. So I have a tendency to STAY in denial – until something jolts me out of it. What fun that is…. 🙁

Teresa July 6, 2011 at 5:24 pm

I understand and agree with what you are saying…. I am definitely keyed in on the fear – I acknowledge my wall of grief but that doesn’t mean I have found the solution in how to deal with it. In theory “today is a good day to die” has good roots – my personal mantra is “bring on the rain” bring it on….fight the battle and get beyond this mess. I will dig in and do what I have to. What always stops me is that life is not just about myself. Other people are around me and will be involved as I fight this fight… Do I push on forward pulling others into it and fight that batttle including them as well – even it they may not want to be involved??? My “fear” is not only of dealing with the pain I personally run into, but also I fear that I will be troublesome to others as I am willing to be “struck dead” to grow (I realize that it is an excuse, but there are times it is a valid excuse and that’s what gets me) I have not read where this issue has been addressed.

Mark Ivar Myhre July 7, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Hi Teresa,

I’m afraid I’m not exactly sure what you’re referring to, about dragging others into the fight.

My main point was to have the courage to face up to your own limitations – but that usually has only a positive result. For example, finding the courage to stop blaming others, or to stop being in pity, or to stop manipulating others. (I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing!)

See what I mean? The courage is to ‘do the right thing’ – so I’m not sure how that would bring others into the fray, except that they might benefit from being around someone who’s a little bit stronger and lighter and more powerful.

Please expand on your situation, and I’ll be glad to address it.

Teresa July 9, 2011 at 9:02 am

Ha ha! You’re not the first one who’s told me that they are not exactly sure what I am trying to say : ) Whenever someone tries to apply another’s thoughts to their situation something is bound to be “lost in translation” – your experiences are no doubt different than mine. In an effort to expand without droaning on I will attempt a short version…….

I admit that I have not read too much of your blog so its possible that I have missed much of the point you are trying to make. It was your thoughts on depression and getting out of depression that drew me in. While I encourage anyone to get help they need, about 6 months ago I discontinued taking antidepressants (after being on them for a few years)…. but my life situation is not much different than when I started the medication. While I have grown, I am not out ot the woods with my depression. So I am still hoping to find the answer to pull myself out of the fog…. so that is why I was interested in your take on depression.

I agree with the “straw that broke the camel’s back” theory and can understand how processing your emotions help relieve the depression (I don’t claim to have processed all that I have bottled up – but I do what I can when I can). But I suppose to some point I feel that our life situations (people, places and things) also contribute to our depression. I would interpret that finding the “courage to change” would apply to my internal (thoughts and emotions) but also the external because these things also affect my internal. When I step out of myself to view my depression I see that I have some control, but outside of myself I can not control…. but those external aspects out of my control may also affect my depression…..it could be financial matters, marriage, lonliness, career, ect… every person could have something different looming – or maybe several different things looming (to go with the “straw that breaks the camel’s back line). So when I read “the courage to change” I wanted to apply that thought to all aspects of my life – not just my emotions. (as I have done in the past). So if I apply the “courage to change” to aspects out side of myself that is when others are put into the mix. Very often choosing to “do the right thing” affects others (and often they don’t like it)

Perhaps my interpretation is outside of the scope of what your were discussing?

Mark Ivar Myhre July 9, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Thanks for writing, Teresa, but I don’t see how choosing to do the right thing will affect others in a bad way.

Is it because you stand up for yourself? And you’re worried about offending them? I offend people all the time – I never thought of it as a bad thing!

Teresa July 10, 2011 at 7:04 am

Hello….I am sorry, I feel like I commented something that was not even in the scope of your discussion……but I agree 100% that doing the right thing will not affect others in a bad way. If its truly the right thing.

(Just as a side note – not necessarily to discuss…..As I am sure you are aware, seldom are things labeled as right or wrong to make things clear cut. Initially I see at least two possible challenges with “doing the right thing” 1 – what I feel is the right thing may not be the same thing that others consider the right thing. 2 – often doing the right thing does forces a change and change is hard.)

If I were to feel my emotions and let them flow some of the emotions can be processed just by myself and I can release. Other emotions seem to prompt action on my part (fear and hope in particular) I may “process” those and want to release them…. but when I hit those emotions I feel the need to do something. So to keep that “emotional flow” going I need to act in some way….when I don’t act that is when I struggle with the emotional pain of holding back (which I equated to the pain you were discussing – but perhaps it is not what you were talking about.)

Just as a basic example – Lets say that I find the electric bill that I thought I paid….so of course that found unpaid bill sets off some emotions in me. I can feel those emotions and process them …. but the “fear” that my electric is going to be turned off will only be released when I take action to get the money to the electric company. When I drop off the check at the electric company that fear is completely released (whew) If I take no action that fear will loom over me – whether I acknowledge that is the problem or not. (now I realize electric is not life or death so this unpaid bill may not generate a huge emotional response. It may not even bother some people – but this is just how I would react) Now the people at the electric company are not affected in a bad way at all by my actions. But other instances of emotional actions may affect others. The fear realized when the denial is lifted from being in an abusive relationship; the hope at the possibility of a better job or a possible new relationship (countless examples here as you can imaging). These situations all affect other people in our lives and the emotions are prompting some action on our part

Mark Ivar Myhre July 10, 2011 at 8:41 pm

okay, I think I understand what you’re saying about your emotions affecting other people.

I would call that – acting ‘out of’ your emotions, which isn’t necessarily the same as feeling them and releasing them. Sometimes I act out of my emotions, and other times I feel them intensely inside and it has no affect on my actions.

The electric bill would be a good example of acting out of the fear – such as, to run and go pay it!

If it were me, I’d be more likely to try to feel and release the fear, then go pay the bill. But that’s just me. I’m always seeking the intensity of emotion.

Teresa July 11, 2011 at 4:03 pm

While I am not sure that I made myself completely clear, but I think you have a little bit of an idea of what my thought is.

I think I am probably like you when you said that sometimes I act out of my emotions and other times I feel them and it has no affect on my actions. Probably 95% of the time I have no problem doing this. I also see emotions as a gift that or a tool even that guide us how to act. So I don’t feel that acting out of the emotions would be a bad thing – although it could be. Isn’t that what the basis of motivation is?

I guess I don’t understand “feel and release the fear”….seeking the intensity of the emotion. It is usually the emotions that I feel the need to act up on … and then don’t act that cause me the pain and frustration. Which per your process would be because I don’t “release the emotion”. I will have to work on that

Another example: A person at work who I am attracted to and want to talk to get to know. Not acting on that feeling causes me pain and stress. Whether it is fear that holds me back or not – when my actions reflect that “I feel nothing” in the moment that is when I feel torn – that causes me pain or frustration or something. So if I say something to that person I feel better – but as you said that could be acting out my emotions. By not reaching out that person the internal feeling is pretty intense. So you would say to feel that and then release that emotion? (not that I would know how to do such a thing)

Mark Ivar Myhre July 12, 2011 at 8:02 pm


yes, emotion does lead to motivation, I believe. All motivation comes from emotion, as far as I can tell.

When I refer to ‘acting out of emotion’ – I was thinking of someone being melodramatic.

With your example, if I wanted to talk to someone, I would just talk to them. I’m pretty impulsive. I probably wouldn’t think about it much. As for feeling, I always look to feel EVERYTHING. That may or may not result in action.

I would try to feel everything before I talked to the person, and I would try to feel everything after I talked to the person. If it’s fear before, or regret afterwards, either way – or both – I would try to feel it all. Always. But that’s just me.

Here’s the thing – it’s so easy to get lost in the fear stories of what they might think about me, and it’s so easy to get lost in the stories of beating myself up for NOT talking to the person. We usually are feeling stories about our emotions, rather than the emotions themselves.

Teresa July 15, 2011 at 5:33 am

Thanks for your thoughts….. I guess what I am struggling with is what you refer to as the “stories”.. I guess not sure. I am sure that I am feeling the emotion that is prompts me to rush to pay the electric bill, or whether or talk or don’t talk to someone. Maybe I get lost in the “story” (whether it be a fear story or something postive) I am afraid the electric will be shut off, or I am afraid someone will think bad of me, or I am afraid if I speak up at work that will just cause trouble or possibly give me more responsibility…… I can percolate on that for a while.

But the emotion that I am feeling still is prompting me to action… whether its to go towards something or away from something… its very strong (at times crippling) So based on your “stories” thought .. those are what would be causing me to feel prompted to move towards or away from something… and not getting caught up in those “stories” will help alleviate some of the prompting?????

Mark Ivar Myhre July 15, 2011 at 7:33 am

Yes, I would say all those examples you gave are stories – and you are feeling the stories rather than the pure emotion of fear. But don’t think I’m pointing the finger at you! Everybody does it, to one degree or another.

It’s when you take the emotion of fear, and put a bunch of ‘what if’s’ around it. That’s a fear story. And it’s not feeling fear (or not much fear, anyway.) Instead, it’s feeling the fear story, which is always more painful.

Anyway, I don’t want to keep belaboring the same point – because really you can simply stop telling yourself stories and just FEEL those stories and (move on the next one!)

As for motivation – I believe the ultimate motivation is love, but yes many do motivate out of the fear stories. I personally have found it’s somewhat painful to motivate myself out of fear stories – plus it tends to keep more stories in my life.

I try to motivate myself out of love. Or at least, I try to intensely feel whatever is there – even if it’s a fear story – feel it, and then see what motivation comes out of it.

When I used to have a lot of fear stories I kept creating circumstances that made it VERY easy to motivate out of fear stories. The more I recognized what I was doing, and instead worked on feeling without thinking all the scenarios that may or may not even happen – that’s when I found less things to even be scared about.

It made me a lot calmer and a lot happier. But that’s just me.

Teresa July 15, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Thanks for the thoughtss – I guess the problem that I face is that I don’t know how to NOT get caught up in the “stories”. I think that is all I know how to do – don’t know how else to act or process…..don’t exactly know what it means to feel and not think about it. Not sure my brain will turn off . Maybe its all rooted in self protection.

You say that you try to motivate yourself out of love and that its very easy to motivate out of fear stories. I do experience this as well. Another example – there’s a person I know whose marriage broke up. the circumstances were pretty horrible and I do feel bad for them and I can’t even imagine how bad they must feel. I can feel myself wanting to reach out and be nice (because they have to feel awful) but then I worry that I will be intruding or bothersome. And the motivation from not wanting to bother them or intrude (fear stories??) always beats the motivation to kind.. (the motivation to believe that I’m fooling myself to think they would appreciate my kindness is much stronger than the motivation to be kind to them) and so I can get emotionally torn if I let myself.

andrew July 21, 2011 at 11:33 am

i’ve been in couseling for years trying to heal the child that was abused, an trying to find myself.I have great value,but i don’t feel it or act like it. thks. andrew

Neil McPherson August 4, 2011 at 10:14 am

Yes, Amen and yes again 🙂 The heart is the key to happiness. Stop trying to think your way to happiness, this only gets confusing.

Inevitably we project our pain onto another person and in essence abuse them by forcing them to deal with our fears and insecurity’s. It is hard to make friends this way 🙂

The heart realy does speak a language all it’s own, animals understand it….babies understand it. Adults try and unlearn it so as to “fit in.” “I must not show emotion, emotion is weakness.”

Thankfully this is not the way it has to be! When the heart is open, we can process anything that comes at is. The will take the most negative emotion and change it into something beautiful and loving and kind….if we let it….if we let our self. be a good day.

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