The first step is to identify what the pain is. In 10 words or less, finish this sentence: My pain is ____________.
If you have trouble answering that, take a deep breath and notice what's causing you the most discomfort right now—not a twinge in a stubbed toe, but pain that comes from thoughts, for example, of a divorce or a job loss.
Whatever the pain, you'll feel it in specific areas of your body. Where does the pain reside with you—in your chest, stomach, lower abdomen? As you give it your attention, describe the thoughts that come with it.
Look deeper into that particular pain—write down at least three things you're holding on to that are causing it. These may be objects, relationships, situations or beliefs.
Pain is often expressed through anger. List five things that bring up some version of anger for you (from frustration to rage).
For each thing you listed, write an "anger rant" that describes how you really, truly feel. Don't hold back. Say whatever you really want to say.
Working from your anger rant, write a list called "X should Y." Examples: Tom should be more considerate of my needs. Or: Barbara should stop being so obsessed with herself.
Now write another list called "I could Y" by substituting "I could" for "X should." Examples: I could be more considerate of my needs. Or: I could stop being so obsessed with Barbara.
Notice how much more challenging it is to live your ethics than to focus on what others should do. How will this change the way you direct your energy next time you get angry?
What corrosive thoughts (pain) have you been keeping to yourself (like, "I suck" or "everyone's against me")? How can you rewrite them to signal a shift you will make? Examples: I do X well, and I will focus on that. Or: I will ask X person for support.
Printed from Oprah.com on Sunday, December 8, 2013