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Passive Voice

This is a very good exercise to learn to observe our habitual behavior and emotional postures, many of which we might not be aware. And our best friends are not going to tell us, if they want to remain our best friends. It is probably easier to do exercises to help recognize that we are not our pleasant feelings rather than to start with exercises to get us to see we are not our negative and depressed feelings, and that, therefore, we needn't go grabbing for Prozac. The reason it is easier to be objective about pleasant feelings is that most of us are already rather tentative about our good feelings and thoughts. We never quite trust them as solid--as if the happy stuff is likely to leave us and disappear at any moment. There is some validity to this thinking. The recurring thoughts that we are going to lose our happiness sooner than we want, being fearful thoughts, do bring on bad feelings. And thus the happiness is usually very temporary because the fearful thoughts constitute a self-fulfilling prophecy as they turn into anxious feelings.

We have quite the opposite fear with bad feelings. We tend to see ourselves as set permanently in the cement of our painful feelings or thoughts, and we believe we need outside help to set us free (pass the Prozac, please). This time the fear is that the feelings and thoughts will not go away, and we are going to feel bad forever. These fearful thoughts keep engendering more bad feelings. Again, the fear comes true. That's why the fearful clinging to happiness doesn't work and the fearful wanting painful feelings to end doesn't work. Now if we could want our painful feelings to last and try to keep them they would disappear just as fast as good feelings, but that is another exercise.

This exercise helps put some distance between ourselves and our feelings. We can put our sensory experiences and thinking in the passive voice as we are experiencing them. It is easiest of all to see that we are not our senses, although it is through our senses that we experience the physical world. If we hear a bird singing, we can change that to the passive voice, and observe that bird song is happening. If we see a beautiful cloud, translated it into the passive voice, we observe that clouds are happening. If we are very thirsty and are just ready to down a big glass of water, we can observe that thirst is being satisfied. Then when we get pretty good at this, we can start with the negative stuff. Anger is happening, sadness is happening, fear is happening, instead of I am angry, I am sad, or I am afraid.

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