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“Give me all your money,” he says.

My heart starts racing. I’ll puke soon.

I’ve never been physically robbed. But I’ve had another kind of gun to my head… I think we all have.

I’ll give an example:

It’s Friday afternoon. Your boss or someone who has some power over you calls. He leaves a message and says, “I think we need to talk. Call me back.”

It’s 4:59 PM. One minute before freedom.

You call back.

But there’s no answer. And now you have to wait. That’s when my palms sweat. And I panic.

That’s just ONE out of a million examples. I bet you can come up with your own real life examples. We all ca. Because in life, we have these “emotional guns” holding us up. I feel this almost everyday.

So I consulted an expert.

Barry Michels. He’s the co-author of “Coming Alive: 4 Tools to Defeat Your Inner Enemy, Ignite Creative Expression & Unleash Your Soul’s Potential” with co-author Phil Stutz.

Their tools help me understand my reactions, my dreams, my disappointments. And in this interview, Barry taught me what’s really in the subconscious mind. And how you can tap into the potential you never knew you had.

Here’s what he taught me:

1. Do Something Different

“Change happens in the present,” Barry said. “In other words, no matter how well you understand how you got to be the way you are now, you have to do something different.”

I feel like this quote is a prelude. It’s the last supporting statement before you decide whether or not you’ll use these tools or listen to this podcast. I learned a lot from Barry. But I think this is the most important… to be willing to do something new.

2. You’re a Mixed Bag (All Humans are)

Being emotional is scary. But Barry said it doesn’t have to be.

“You’re never just one thing,” he said. “If you feel rage, you’re not just rage.” You’re not just this one emotion. You’re a mixed bag.

Think about this way. There’s a part of you that is aware of the rage (or stress or sadness or hurt). So that means, in that moment, you are one part awareness and one part rage. You’re split.

Which sort of means, you don’t have to be as stuck as you feel.

3. Remember the Future

“Can I tell you a personal story?” Barry asked.

“Sure,” I said.

“This is sort of ridiculously personal, but my mother was an extraordinarily difficult person. In psychiatry, they would diagnose her as having borderline personality disorder, which meant she had wide mood swings. When I went off to college, she really felt abandoned. And she would go through these swings where she would call me and she would leave a message on my machine and raged at me.”

He told me about the series of messages she’d leave. It was stressful. He’s in college. He didn’t leave out of anger. He left for education. That’s really hard on anyone at any age. But he was young.

She’d call a second and third and fourth time. Slowly, she’d calm down. Eventually, she’d show she loved him again. She’d be crying. And apologizing. “I know I’ve been really bad,” she said. “I need to talk to you. I’m so sorry”

The cycle kept repeating. Day after day.

And he had no control over it.

“One time, I kept the whole series of messages. And I replayed them to myself.”

“Why?” Why’d you replay the messages?”

“To remind myself that the first enraged message, which used to make me terrified and also enraged back, would evolve into something else and we were going to have a good relationship after this. And that it was all going to be okay.”

That’s all I ever want when I feel anxious. I want to be reminded that it’s going to be okay.

Barry had this. The cycle was sad. But he knew it’d come undone.

“You don’t need to get trapped in what’s happening in the present if you can keep the perspective that the future is going to have many many more present moments that are a lot more sanguine than this one.”

I asked Barry why Phil and him wrote this book.

“We try to restore the sense of mystery to the human psyche,” he said. “In other words what we’re really trying to get our readers to consider is that there are deep, deep parts of you that you’re not conscious of that may seem like problems, but there actually resources that you’ve never tapped into before.”

The emotional guns will keep coming. That’s part of life. But I think that with Barry’s tools from his book and the podcast, the gun will be less loaded. Or I’ll become more bullet proof.

I’m happy with either one.

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