Today I want to introduce you to one of my favorite tools, called the Feedback Loop.
I’m going to tell you all about it in a second, but first, I want you to think about how you normally approach times in your life when something doesn’t feel quite right.
Usually, when we have a problem and we recognize we have a problem, we try to find a solution. Right?
Here’s the issue with that approach: sometimes this “fixing” works, but usually, it’s temporary. Other times, we invite the problem back in its opposite form.
For example, let’s say you have a difficult relationship with your mother, and so you tell yourself “I’m not going to be anything like my mother.” And then, years later, you find yourself still struggling with your relationship and, likely, behaving exactly like your mother.
This is because you “fixed” the problem—promising yourself to never end up like her—without actually clearing out the issues you have with your mother.
When we use the Feedback Loop, we ask a simple question: “How’s that working for me?”
How we choose to answer that question is what makes the Feedback Loop so powerful.
The Feedback Loop allows us to go deeper with what’s not working, and encourages us not to label the problem. Instead of thinking “I want to be nothing like my mother” and ending the internal dialogue with that “resolution,” the Feedback Loop encourages you to sit with the discomfort and to observe the sensations in your body. To make room for fresh ideas and perspectives to pop up, unattached from the values of our culture. To hear directly from your soul what’s bothering you or feeling resistant in your life.
Philosopher and spiritual teacher George Gurdjieff talked about the levels of knowing. He argued that you have to be in a place of receptivity—a new state of being—to see the door that will open you up to new possibilities. The door is always there, but you can only see it when you’re having a new, different dialogue with yourself. It’s no longer about blaming your mother.
That’s what the Feedback Loop can help you do.
Ready to dive in? Here’s an exercise that walks you through the Feedback Loop.
First, I want you to connect to your soul, to nature and to your body.
So, put time aside to sit quietly and meditate, to take a walk in nature (in a forest, on the beach, in a park!) and dance for at least 10 minutes. (Trust me on that last part.)
Next, with a journal nearby, I want you to ask yourself, “How’s it working for me?”
Write in your journal about what “it” is—whatever issue is bothering you. I want you to write quickly without thinking. When you pause, I want you to keep asking yourself that question until you begin to notice sensations in your body.
For example, you might feel heat, pulsing or stabbing pain. Notice the sensations you’re experiencing, and describe those sensations in your journal.
During the next four days, anytime you find yourself thinking about the problem, breathe deeply and let yourself feel the sensations in your body. Are they the same sensations? Different?
The key here is to be present to the discomfort.
Finally, see if you have a message, new idea or synchronicity. It might come up while you feel the sensations in your body, or it might come afterwards. Just be open to what you’re receiving.
I often find that when I do something new and am out of my day-to-day routine—like reading a book outside of my normal genre, going to a baseball game, going to a new museum, swimming—I’m able to receive these messages.
So be courageous, be adventurous! Most importantly, be open.
The Feedback Loop will not only offer you incredible new insights and perspectives and a deeper connection to the Source, but it will also give you a map to dealing with these issues that you can rely on, time and time again.
After all, feelings are like waves—they move through you. Surrendering and allowing emotions to pass through you without having a kneejerk reaction will help you make more authentic, true decisions for yourself.
The Feedback Loop has helped me work through many issues in my life, including conflicts with my alcoholic mother, which I write about in my memoir My Journey Through War and Peace.
This powerful tool transformed the relationship I had with my mother by helping me stay aware of my sensations. In the healing I was able to better understand my mother and her internal demons—which hurt both of us. I recognized the pressures she had as a highly intelligent, goal-driven working mother of the sixties. I began to see how her own tragedies, like witnessing the death of her father by a drunk driver when she was seven and my father’s sudden incapacitation, erupted into rage and futility.
Through my own spiritual journey I found reconciliation within myself and honored the gifts my mother gave me.
As Martha Beck wrote in Finding Your North Star, “Instead of fighting your unexplained bad moods, pay special attention to them. They are a clear sign that you’ve lost your North Star, and that your essential self is trying to tell you where to find it.”