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Home > eBooks > Unpublished Manuscripts > The Sensitivity Handbook: Training Materials for Developing Balanced Sensitivity > Exercise 21: Dispelling Discomfort at Eight Transitory Things in Life

The Sensitivity Handbook: Training Materials for Developing Balanced Sensitivity

Alexander Berzin
July 1999
Revised February 2003

Part V: Advanced Training

Exercise 21: Dispelling Discomfort at Eight Transitory Things in Life

I. While focusing on various persons from your life

Procedure
  • Recall a situation with someone in which you overreacted to giving or receiving one of the eight transitory things in life, working through the following examples
    • For practice in a workshop or at home, work with merely receiving each of the eight transitory things and choose only personally relevant examples
    • For advanced or thorough practice, work with all cited examples for both receiving and giving each
    • For Section 3b, work through each step
  • Regret any pain that your loss of balance might have caused the person or yourself
    • Resolve to try to prevent this from happening again
  • Recognize that your overreaction came from projecting and believing in a dualistic appearance of your experience
    • Focus on the fact that a concrete "me" sitting in my head and a gain or a loss so absolute that it establishes the worth or the worthlessness of such a "me" are preposterous fictions that do not refer to anything real
    • Picture your realization of this fact popping the balloon of your fantasy
    • Experience the burst shocking you out of your daydream and feel your attachment, aversion, and confusion disappearing in an instant, leaving no trace
  • See that the popping of your fantasy leaves you only with the wave of experience that served as its basis
    • Feel this wave from the oceanic perspective of clear light activity and imagine receiving or giving the transitory thing without tension or internal commentary
    • Without denying either the experience of this wave or the feeling of happiness or sadness that it naturally brings, let it settle and pass
  • Except for Section 3b, "Receiving or fulfilling expectations or demands," recall feeling tense at someone overreacting when he or she received or gave the same transitory thing to you, as in the examples of related responses given after the primary forms cited for each syndrome
    • Understanding the confusion behind the person's hypersensitivity, deconstruct your dualistic response by imagining it abruptly popping like a balloon
    • Compassionately accept the person's hyperemotional response and imagine reacting nonjudgmentally with balanced sensitivity
    • Without ignoring the person's emotions or becoming upset and feeling guilty, imagine feeling sad at the event and letting the person know what you feel
Examples
  • Receiving praise
    • Primary forms of the syndrome – gloating or feeling unworthy when receiving praise that you are a good worker who is kind to the rest of the staff
    • Related responses to someone having the syndrome – feeling annoyed or awkward when someone boasts or protests too loudly at your offer of praise
  • Giving praise
    • Feeling condescendingly gracious, compromising, or uncomfortable when praising someone for a job well done
    • Feeling suspicious or embarrassed when someone is uneasy while praising you
  • Receiving criticism
    • Feeling anger, mortification, or low self-esteem when receiving criticism or blame for working poorly
    • Feeling guilty or cold when someone overreacts to your criticism
  • Giving criticism
    • Feeling self-righteous, nervous, or upset at offering someone constructive criticism for his or her performance at work
    • Feeling annoyed or disappointed when someone is too timid or too polite to point out your mistakes when you ask for a critical evaluation of your work
  • Receiving good news
    • Becoming overexcited and falsely self-confident, or superstitious and nervous at receiving good news, such as that you passed your exam
    • Condescendingly feeling that someone is acting like a child when the person becomes overexcited at your conveying good news
  • Conveying good news
    • Feeling self-important, overexcited, or jealous at giving someone good news, for instance that he or she passed the exam
    • Feeling embarrassed or disgusted at someone's seemingly inappropriate show of emotion when the person becomes more excited than you when conveying good news to you
  • Receiving bad news
    • Feeling sorry for yourself, becoming angry, or feeling that you deserve to be punished when receiving bad news, such as that you failed the exam
    • Feeling emotionally stiff or awkward when someone cries at receiving bad news from you
  • Conveying bad news
    • Feeling guilty or gloating self-righteously when giving someone bad news, such as that he or she failed the exam
    • Feeling uncomfortable or impatient when someone feels awkward or reticent to give you bad news
  • Gaining something
    • Becoming overexcited, feeling that it confirms how wonderful you are, or feeling obligated and robbed of your independence when gaining something, such as a gift of money
    • Feeling frustrated or rejected when someone feels uneasy at your offer to help with some money
  • Giving something
    • Feeling yourself a more worthwhile person or feeling deprived when giving someone something, such as financial help to an elderly parent
    • Feeling outraged when someone has expectations of you or makes unreasonable demands because of your accepting a gift
  • Losing something
    • Feeling devastated, indignant, or convinced that this proves that you are no good when losing something, for instance someone's friendship
    • Feeling guilty or cold when someone becomes depressed or angry at your depriving him or her of something, such as when ending an unhealthy relationship
  • Depriving something
    • Being afraid to hurt someone or feeling delighted when depriving someone of something, such as when having to say no
    • Feeling stupid or annoyed for even asking for a favor when someone feels terrible at having to refuse it
  • Thanking someone
    • Feeling patronizing, obligated, or subordinate when thanking someone on your own initiative
    • Feeling indignant, insulted, or guilty when someone expects a thank-you from you
    • Feeling condescending, resentful, or demeaned when thanking someone because the person expects a thanks
    • Feeling self-righteous, outraged, or extremely guilty when someone demands a thank-you from you
    • Feeling arrogant, scornful, or defeated when thanking someone upon demand
  • Apologizing
    • Feeling condescending or embarrassed when apologizing to someone on your own initiative
    • Feeling incensed, indignant, or guilty when someone expects an apology from you
    • Feeling unrepentantly smug, resentful, or humiliated when apologizing because someone expects an apology
    • Feeling self-righteous, outraged, or extremely guilty when someone demands an apology from you
    • Feeling arrogant, scornful, or defeated when apologizing upon demand
  • Having things go well
    • Feeling smug or that it is too good to be true when being the recipient of things going well, for example in a relationship with someone
    • Feeling impatient or annoyed when someone feels insecure in a relationship with you that is going well
  • Making things go well
    • Feeling yourself to be the self-sacrificing martyr or being worried that you would inevitably ruin things when being the agent of things going well, such as in a relationship
    • Feeling exasperated when someone feels low self-esteem, though he or she is acting perfectly well in a relationship with you
  • Having things go poorly
    • Feeling sorry for yourself or feeling that that you are getting what you deserve when being the recipient of things going poorly, for instance in a relationship
    • Feeling disappointed or irritated when someone constantly complains at things going badly in a relationship with you, but does nothing constructive to try to improve the situation
  • Making things go poorly
    • Feeling depressed, guilty, or self-satisfied when being the agent of things going poorly, such as in a relationship
    • Feeling callous and unforgiving when someone felt awful at having hurt you

II. While focusing on someone in person

1. While facing a partner, do the following without feeling tense, self-conscious, silly, elated, glorified, depressed, or hurt, but with appropriate feelings of happiness or sadness, by following the previous procedure to deconstruct disturbing emotions if they arise

  • Praise the person, for example that his or her hair looks nice, and then receive a similar compliment
    • Offer constructive criticism, such as the person is overweight and needs to go on a diet, and then receive similar criticism
  • Tell the person good news, such as tomorrow will be a day off from work, and then receive similar good news
    • Tell the person bad news, such as you lost the book that he or she loaned you, and then receive similar bad news
  • Give the person some gain, for instance some money, and then receive a similar gain
    • Give the person a loss, for instance take back the money, and then receive a similar loss
  • Thank the person on your own initiative, demand a thank-you in return, and receive that thanks
    • Receive a thank-you from the person's own initiative and a demand for a thanks in return, and fulfill that demand
  • Apologize to the person on your own initiative, demand an apology in return, and receive that apology
    • Receive an apology from the person's own initiative and a demand for an apology in return, and fulfill that demand
  • Acknowledge to yourself the success of your efforts to improve the relationship with the person and admit to yourself the person's successful efforts as well
    • Acknowledge to yourself your responsibility for the relationship degenerating with the person and admit to yourself the person's responsibility for this as well

III. While focusing on yourself

1. While focusing on yourself without a mirror, do the following nondualistically, repeating the deconstruction procedure if needed

  • Praise yourself for your positive efforts, and then criticize yourself for the mistakes you are making
  • Tell yourself good news, such as that there is only one day left until the weekend, and then tell yourself bad news, such as you have to go back to work tomorrow
  • Imagine experiencing a gain, such as figuring out the solution to a personal problem, and then experiencing a loss, such as being unable to remember someone's name
  • Imagine doing something nice for yourself, like taking a hot bath, and then restricting yourself, for instance not taking dessert because you are dieting
  • Think about the things that have been going well in your life, and then think about the things that have been going poorly

2. Repeat the procedure while looking at a series of photographs of yourself spanning your life

  • Praise yourself for your strong points during those times and criticize your mistakes
  • Tell yourself both the good and bad news of what happened because of your behavior then
  • Think of the gains and losses you have experienced because of those actions
  • Acknowledge the things that went well and the things that went badly at those times
Corresponding Chapter 19 in Developing Balanced Sensitivity