How I Began to Become Fully Alive!

Updated: May 4

Andy: Today we’re going to discuss, from a very high level, what we’ve discovered. What it ultimately means, and what it looks like to answer the call of God, to be fully alive. And we will also discuss roadblocks that keep us from answering that call. Again, this is a very high level overview. In all of the following podcasts, we will be going into greater detail regarding the journey of becoming fully alive.

So some of the terms we’ll be discussing today are the false self, the true self, the mask, the lower self, the shadow, negative emotions, positive emotions, controllers, controllees, narcissism, spiritual gifts, just to name a few.

Okay, with that said, Robin, are you ready to discuss and expand upon these simple concepts?

Robin: I’m good and I’m very scared right now; that was a really long list! Oh, my!

A: Robin and I have formed a company called Z-Axis Life. Robin, can we start by giving, by you giving a brief description of the Z-Axis Life?

R: Yeah, absolutely. So, if you recall, back in your geometry days, your x, y axis and I know a lot of us want to forget those math classes, but I think, when you get into a little bit more advanced math, you get into the z-axis, which is like the third dimension, right? So x and y are two dimensions and the z-axis is the third dimension and Andy and I were talking about this awhile ago and we were talking about how we think that God’s direction doesn’t have a whole lot to do with what most people think it does.

That most people think that we live on an either/or type situation and the either/or, we kind of narrowed it down to these two measures of what we value, let’s say. And so what we call, the first measure is what the world values and we call that the x-axis. So the world values money, it values fame, it values prestige, it values the good opinion of other people. That sort of thing. And so you can measure your value based on how well you’ve achieved the things on the x-axis, let’s say.

And then there’s the y-axis, which a lot of people try to, “Let’s rise above the fame and fortune and all that stuff. Let’s be better people,” right? “So let’s measure ourselves against a morality, not just the accumulation of things or achievements or esteem.” So the y-axis became a moral, what morals value, and so it’s going to depend on what moral structure you buy into. So it could be based on a religion, let’s say, or it could be based on what you were taught as a kid or what you grew up in, your culture, whatever, that provides this moral structure of, not just what makes your life easier and makes you feel good, but what you should be doing. What makes you a better contributor to the tribe, so to speak.

So the y-axis is what the church values, that’s one example of a religion that your moral structure is based on. So this would be a person who is giving, who self-sacrifices, or does a lot of charity, does the right thing, is honest, tells the truth, this sort of thing.

If you’re a failure on the x-axis, what the world values, you’re on skid row, you’re living under a bridge type stuff. If you’re a failure on the y-axis, you are a reprobate. You are gambling or abusing drugs or treating people really badly, right and left, not giving a crap, like sociopath type stuff, right?

So, we’re like, we don’t think either one of these axes is really what God is calling us to do. And we’re back to, we’ll talk about this more, this self-sacrifice model, but we think, we’ve come across through a bunch of experiences and insights, that we think God’s after something different. And we call that the z-axis. The z-axis is kind of like one direction. If you’re on it, you’re going in God’s direction, or you’re just not on it at all.

So this axis values what we believe God truly values, which is, in one word, Love, and we’ve got a podcast coming up that talks about love. But, basically, on this axis is God, Truth, the true self, and positive emotions: peace, power and joy. These are all what we are, if we’re really claiming spiritual growth, if we’re really claiming that we’re putting God first, these are the things that we should be valuing. Did I cover pretty much what the z-axis means?

So we made this company, Z-Axis Life, which means, “Hey, this is what we’ve discovered about how to live more fully on the z-axis and so we’re not going to claim we’re living on the z-axis all the time, but our goal is to live on it more and more and more every single day.

A: Excellent, perfect, thank you. Since this is most likely the first podcast you’re going to be hearing from us, can you give a brief background, overview of our journey? That we ended up coming together and forming Z-Axis Life?

R: That’s a mouthful.

A: Can you start that? Do you mind?

R: I’ll go first, huh? Okay, then. All right.

A: Now remember it’s only a two-hour podcast. Be brief.

R: Be brief. Oh my. Okay. I f-ed up my life, I turned around, I said I’ve got to do something totally different. Done. How about that?

A: No. Expand a little more.

R: Okay. I left husband #2 and I realized that there is a pattern now, with two. I wasn’t willing to push it with trying a third at some point. I wanted to figure out what was going on. I literally left. I left town. I was fortunate enough that I had the means to leave town for two months. I had some friends who allowed me to stay in their home and so forth and I worked a little bit remotely, but not a whole lot. And I spent the time answering the question that we all run from every day of our lives:

There’s something wrong. What if it’s me?

And I concluded very quickly that it was me.

And, all the things that gave me shame, there were a lot of them, I started to look at because I had no other choice. I knew I couldn’t go back to the situation I was in. It was too much suffering. And I wasn’t … I didn’t … I thought many times about killing myself but I just wasn’t at the point at that time. So I kind of had no choice and this wonderful man across from me, Andy, suggested that I start a journal. I thought, well first of all, I didn’t do anything Andy suggested back then. But, after a couple days, I’m like, you know what? I’m kind of bored. I guess I will, right?

Bear in mind, I’m in therapy at the same time and I’d been in therapy for a good eight months already. So I started a journal and I started talking in there about all the things I never wanted to talk about myself. I looked at the things I never really wanted to look at myself. And I asked the Why? Question a lot. Why do I do this? Why do I do that? That got me pretty far and then I kind of got to a … I kind of stalled about a month in. I was listening to Jordan Peterson, who I respect greatly for his philosophy and intelligence and his analytical skills so much, and he said “Set the bar low.” And I was like, that’s contrary to everything we hear but I’m like, “You know what? If I do that, I think I might actually be able to do this.”

And I started listing all the things I wanted to improve about myself. All the things I didn’t like about myself. And I’m like, okay, I’m going to work on this at first. I’m going to work on that. I’m going to work on my diet or I’m going to work on my sleep or whatever. And then I got to a point very quickly where I didn’t know what else to do and I went to, I went on the website for AA and I started doing the steps for AA because I felt like husband #2 was a narcissist and I felt like I was addicted to them.

I had left, but I was … I was so lost. I had no identity. I felt so untethered and I wanted that tether back so bad. I really felt like I was an addict. So I started on the AA steps and very shortly I hit, I think it’s Step 4 or 6, the character traits. I’ve been stuck there ever since.

And boy, oh boy, that started a journey that has opened up so much for me, I can’t even say. Well, I am going to say. I’m going to try to say and it’s going to take a lot of podcasts, I think, to say. But, the willingness to turn around and look at my faults and actually to stop blaming and to stop being a victim and to take responsibility, begin to take responsibility for where my life had taken me.

I became the only person who could fix it. Before that, no one could fix it. I was just a victim. It’s not to say that I did everything to myself because, trust me, especially if you’re in a narcissist … and there’s many other people who will make you suffer, you don’t do it all to yourself, no way, but you’re the only one who can stop it.

So, what happened after that? I finally came home from, I call it my odyssey, and I just kept trying … and I started reading the Bible. I started with Exodus, I don’t know why. It took me 3-4 months to get through Exodus because I stopped every time I read something I didn’t understand. Every other time I’ve read the Bible, I just, “I don’t get that. Let’s go on to a verse I get,” you know? This time I was like, “Wait, what? Wait …. What does that mean?” And I would read commentaries and I would Google it. I just kept digging until I found an explanation that rang true to me.

I was very fortunate that, when I was young, my mother witnessed to me what God had done or her, and I knew that He was a resource. And I was at the point that I needed and I didn’t have a resource. My therapist had been working with me. She was helpful, but it wasn’t enough. And so I started asking these questions about myself. And I started asking God for help. I didn’t know it at the time. I had stumbled on a formula that I am still using to this day.

So, that was my journey. I came back. Andy can attest that I was very different from the person I was when I had left.

A: Excellent. Thank you.

R: Short enough?

A: That was perfect. I’ll give you my background. Robin’s a lot more self-aware than I was. I kind of stumbled through life. *deleted, not relevant*

Since, early after high school, I had always felt a void, that something was missing. And I couldn’t … I couldn’t name what that void was. And, what I did, I started researching, reading again, going to a, becoming a mechanical engineer, one of the things you learn is, you don’t necessarily have to invent things. You just have to be a very good researcher and build upon other people’s works and learn from that and then invent from that.

So, what I decided to do was start reading every book I could get my hands on that talked about anything from philosophy to other’s journeys in the Christian walk to the desert fathers and nothing really answered or filled that void that I was feeling. And I felt, for lack of a better word, it was kind of a calling. I knew I was supposed to be doing something more than just going to a job, collecting money, and paying bills. I felt I was just existing.

So I continued searching in books, documentaries, podcasts, and a lot of interesting stuff came from late night conversations with close friends. Several of these friends were ministers of large churches and, unfortunately, all my conversations ended up much the same way, with the other person saying something like, “Andy, you think too much. Don’t worry. Just let go and let God.” I never figured out what that meant exactly. I mean, I tried, right? I tried to let go. I tried to “have faith,” whatever that means. I tried to die to the false self, again, not knowing really what that meant.

Finally, a fateful day ten plus years ago, I was introduced to Robin. And Robin seemed to be struggling with the same questions I was struggling with, mainly, “Why are we here? What is the purpose of this life on this earth?” This meeting resulted in weekly get-togethers that we discussed everything from who we were to who is God to why are we here and what is our purpose and, most importantly, really trying to determine if we were actually crazy? Because no one else seemed to be interested in the things that we were interested in, meaning, figuring out, what is our true purpose?

There’s a lot of books on finding your purpose but it always is about doing something, building something, and we found there’s no, I mean, that seems to be a goal and, once you reach a goal, you still have that void. So, anyway, a result of those meetings, weekly meetings, Z-Axis Life is the result of those, actually. All those discoveries during that ten-year relationship.

So, I guess, that sums mine up.

R: Yeah, I would say, if I could add to that, there’s this synergy between us when we talk about stuff that I think is rare. I know I’ve never encountered it. That I discovered a lot of insights and truths on my journey on my own but, for some reason, you, Andy, extract from me in a way that I wasn’t doing, even in my journal. You would, Andy would ask me questions and he likes to look at a subject from all directions and I know in my gut, let’s say, what it was that I had discovered, but his questions forced me to formulate what I had discovered into words and when we do that, it helps cement it, it makes it real, and I’m not just communicating it to him. I’m kind of communicating it to myself.

And so, he is also very gifted at applying something that I’ve, let’s say, run across, to five, six other things and saying, What about this? What about that? I’m like, oh my God, yeah, right! So, we’ve got this synergy where we both have been like, discovering things, insights about what life is all about, human nature, what to do about it. Those big questions that we’re going to, we think that, you guys would have an interest in listening to. Some of it will be live. Eventually, I think we’ll tackle the subjects that we’re dealing with right now in our lives, but up until then, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover. Subjects we’ve already discovered.

So, anyway, that was kind of why the two of us kind of have done, began this journey together. I would discover insights when I was away and when I came back, I would call Andy and talk to him about them and he would ask me those questions, so he was very much, how would we say? A part of that discovery path, from the beginning.

A: Yeah, I’d say you do the same for me. Synergy is a great word. Robin has the ability … We’ll be discussing more of our acronyms as we go along, but, one of the things, I was severely disconnected from my emotions and there were numerous reasons for that but, Robin was highly connected to her emotions, to the point where it seemed a bit nuts, frankly. But, what I found is, with, and we’ll get into more of these podcasts on emotions but, what we found is, emotions are God’s energy and Robin had been tapping into God’s energy even though she didn’t know it and she’d been extracting truth and that’s one of the things she’s amazing at. She’ll hear something and know it’s true.

Then she has to run it by me and I have to make her prove it. And I have to know that truth is truth in every circumstance. So, I think we have a really good relationship when it comes to that. We feed off of each other. We, yeah, synergy, symbiotic, whatever you want to call it, it’s a very … like I said, I’ve spent 50+ years talking to so many people and I’ve never met anyone like Robin. Which, obviously, the reason we are doing this podcast, is the result of that.

So, thank you,

R: Absolutely.

A: So, one of the things, not everybody is going to be ready to hear what we’re going to say in this podcast. If you believe what we have discovered will actually set one free, to truly live, why do you believe most people won’t be able to actually hear what we are saying, let alone apply it?

R: Well, two reasons and that’s because generally people fall into one of two categories and yes, I’m going to categorize people. One of them is, the first category is the person who thinks they already know it. I know this. I got it. I knew God from the age of three, or whatever, right? I know the rules, I know the Bible. I could even recite verse, number and verse. I’ve got it memorized, whatever it is, right? That set of people are living in a mindset that, they’re not open to hearing anything. And, generally, also that set of people, the reason they’re not open is because their life is generally pretty good. They’re generally getting what they want out of it.

There’s a set of people on this earth who are very good at the physical world. They’re very good at getting what they need, whether that’s security, whether it’s adoration, whether it is acceptance or whatever it is, independence, whatever it is that they need, they have figured out how to get it.

And then there’s the rest of us. In category two, who have not figured it out. And we’re … we suffer a lot. Not that the first category doesn’t suffer, but, trust me, the second set of people, we suffer a lot. And so, those people, you would think all of them would want to want a way out. They would want to hear something that says, “Hey, you can get free of all this suffering that you’re under. But most of those people are too afraid to get out from under it because this system that they live in, in the world, where they self-sacrifice and they give of themselves, and they usually lean on another person for their identity, or other people, for their identity and security. To challenge that is extraordinarily scary.

Because it’s all you have, it’s all you know, and if you leave that, what are you leaving it for? We want to know that it’s going to be wort it because, if we leave, all of us have spent a lifetime building what we have in our life, right? So, that means we believe in it, first of all. Second of all, we’ve got that … an incredible investment of time and energy into how our life has become so far. Now, for me, what I had built was crap. In pretty much every area. Now I did have losses that I didn’t anticipate but, for the most part, it was so crappy in every area that I was like, forget it! I’m ready to leave. This sucks!

But, most people, they’ve got the marriage or the intimate relationship. They’ve got the job, the kids, the neighborhood, the community, whatever it is that they’ve built … to challenge that in search of … and what they’ve built is good enough, right? They’re alive. They’re not starving. They’re not on the street. They’re not under a bridge. They’ve got a few people who care about them. They’ve got what the world says is what you need to be okay.

So why would you leave that for this “fully alive” business, which may or may not happen? You kind of know, I think, that to be fully alive, you’re going to have to leave the system you’re in, to some degree, to do that. And you know that if you do that you will incur losses of what you have built. I think people know that, deep down inside. And so, the people we’re talking to are are a very unique set of people who are either suffering enough or curious enough to want to, to be willing to, look at the possibility of, you know what? If I change myself significantly, if I change my perspective significantly, I may alienate some of the people in my life that I have worked so hard to build relationships with. Those are the people who are going to be interested in being fully alive. I don’t know, I think it’s a pretty small set.

A: I was going to, one of the questions I was going to ask you is, people are going to be listening … we’ve run into this before where we’ve tried to explain this. They agree with everything, right? On the surface. They believe it’s correct, right? But, when it comes to actually walking in it, it’s a whole different thing.

So, you kind of answered it, but one of the, I think the people that we are, that are going to be most benefit from what we have to say and actually are ready to walk this path are people like us, who have been through enormous emotional pain. We didn’t really know we were in pain, you’re probably living in anxiety and didn’t even know it was anxiety. I was guilty of that. I just had, now that I’m out of it, I realize I had this long-term, low level depression/anxiety. I lived in a constant state of it, let’s say. I was hyper vigilant. I didn’t, until you’re out of that, you have no idea that it’s a coping mechanism, how entrenched you are in that whole way of life.

And what we found is, I think the people who are going to benefit the most, are those who are probably older, 40s, 50s, what we’ve found is, as humans, we have to try everything ourselves in order to fix what we think is wrong with our lives. And only when we come to that dead end, and go, “Okay, I give up” and really, not just say it in words. Not to make light of, but there’s these pamphlets people pass out at restaurants and bathrooms that say, “Just say this prayer and you’ll be forgiven,” right? That’s too simplistic, meaning, it’s a choice. You have to come to the end of the road. You have to actually say, “I give up. I’ve tried everything. I’m done.”

And what Robin and I have found with each other and other people on this path is, you have to physically get to the point where it’s a choice between physical death or spiritual death. I mean, that’s the two and, if you pick spiritual death, you decide to stay where you’re at and live, kind of exist. I wouldn’t even call it living. Or you can choose what we’re talking about, that is a third option, just to let you know. But the other option is physical death and that’s where both Robin and I got to. I mean, we both, separate times, came up to that wall and we said, “Is making the change …” It was so, it was so painful, the thought of making that change, that death seemed easier than making that change.

And, once we, once you get past that, once you decide death is no longer an option, I have to make this change, that’s when … it’s not easy, I mean, we were joking about this the other day and I told Robin this, I said, the Biblical verse really should be, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” But it really should be, “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free, but first it’s gonna take all your stuff.” And Robin alluded to this, everything we’ve built in the false self will disappear, will turn to dust. It can’t not do that because that was the anchor that kept us in this world from following a spiritual path.

So, coming full circle, I think the people that are going to benefit the most are the ones who have been living in that low level of pain that they weren’t aware of, that maybe they’ve gone through a recent divorce, maybe they’ve lost a loved one, and they’ve tried everything. They’ve read all the books and they are truly ready to take that step.

R: Yeah, I agree. And, for me, I definitely came to that choice. Not when I first left. It was several months later. I was already working on myself and I just kept running into these dead ends. As human beings, it’s our nature to solve problems and it’s our culture to pick yourself up by your bootstraps and do it and don't’ be dependent, but, so it takes a lot … a lot of suffering and I basically, I didn’t have the courage to blow my brains out. At that point, I’m like, I only have one direction to go. I can’t go back. I can’t go backwards. I can’t choose to get out of here, this world, so I’m going to have to go forward and see what’s there. So it was the scariest thing I’ve ever done.

And I think you’re right. People do have to get to that point. And it’s unfortunate, but, for some reason, admitting, and that’s step one or two in AA, admitting that you need God … you need … you can’t, you don’t have the resources to deal with this is so difficult. I’d say I’ve gotten a lot better at it. This is now three years later. I’m much better, in fact, now I’m kind of like, “Look, I don’t want to waste time. I’m not even going to try to tackle this one; it’s just a waste of time.” But, gosh, it’s so hard.

So, yeah, and we want to be that lifeline. And I’m not talking about, by a lifeline, I’m not talking about something that makes you feel better, self-soothing. i’m not saying go to your doctor. A lot of us, when we get to that point, we don’t blow our brains out but we go to the doctor and get a prescription for Prozac or Xanax or whatever. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about a lifeline to LIFE. No survival, real life.

A: And that lifeline to life … can you talk about, what do you feel is our individual purpose here?

R: Yeah, boy that’s a big one, isn’t it? A lot of philosophers have tackled that one. I honestly believe the reason we’re here, in this physical world, is to find our way back to being our True Self. Who God made us to be. This is the kid you were before you were treated with less than real love, before you were hurt, before you suffered, before you were afraid, and before you felt like you needed to protect yourself. That is, what I call, the True Self. The true self who lives in the present, who can feel joy, who can feel peace, who can feel power, and not be guilty because of it, not feel ashamed because of it, not feel like you have to protect yourself.

I think this is one reason our society loves dogs so much. They just live in their true self, man. They’ve got some habits that you’re like, “Whoa,” and they just don’t care. They’re going to do it right in front of company, or whatever. And they’re glad to see you, man. They’re going to hide the fact that they’re glad to see you They’re jumping up and down. They’re freaking out, they’re so happy to see you. That’s what I’m talking about. That’s the trust self.

And the true self, as you can imagine, in a human being, is so much more powerful and creative, and can affect the others around them, the world around them, so much greater than the animals and plants that God’s created.

If we’re here to find that True Self, I think that’s what, when I was going through my journey, when I first started it, I didn’t know where I was going, you spend your whole life building what we call the false self. This is a set of behaviors and beliefs that are self-protective. They keep you protected from getting hurt and they enable you to operate in a world of a bunch of other people who are protecting themselves, right?

And, when you peel the beliefs away that support that false self, you don’t have to build the true self. You don’t have to recreate it. I remember in high school, part of the creation of my false self. I remember thinking in seventh grade, “I wish I were extroverted. I wish I was popular. I wish all the kids liked me and said hI to me in the hall like they do so-and-so and so-and-so. And I finally realize, I was like, I’ll never be that, but I can listen. I can be the person everyone talks to. And so that became my belief, a mode of behavior that I kept for a long, long time.

So the false self is something that you build. it’s something that you work on. “Okay, I’ll try this, I’ll try that. Let’s see what works,” kind of thing. It’s trial and error and it takes a lot of suffering to get to a set of behaviors that seems to work, that you seem to be able to navigate okay. The true self is not like that. You do not have to build it. You do not have to work on it, create it. You don’t have to choose, you don’t have to go and say, “Am I a cheerleader type? Am I a nerd type?” You peel off those erroneous beliefs of the false self and the true self is already there. It’s there, to be discovered. You don’t have to build it. You’re just discovering it. You’re just peeling off the dirt to get to it.

I think that’s our purpose in life, and we’ll have another podcast about this, but pursuing the True Self is the same thing as seeking Truth, as learning who God is, as experiencing positive emotions: peace, power, and joy. They’re all the same thing. I do think that’s our purpose.

A: Excellent. And, for those listening to this one, remember, we’re going to dive into detail in later podcasts on the false self / true self, but it’s important to get these terms out there because we’ll be using them and they’ll help you understand also. Just, if I can, I came across a definition of the true self and false self that Thomas Merton, who was an American Trappist monk from the 1915-16s. And he taught contemplation, right? I thought this was one of the best definitions of the false and the true self if I can. He said on the false self:

Every one of us is shadowed by an illusionary person, a false self. This is the man or woman that I want myself to be, but cannot exist because God does not know anything about him or her. It simply lives in your thoughts and projections. It’s what you want yourself to be and what you want others to think you are. It’s very tied up with status, symbols, and reputation. My false and private self is the one who wants to exist outside the reach of God’s will and God’s love. Outside of reality and outside of life. As such, this self cannot help but be an illusion. That’s why the false self is so fragile. It’s inherently insecure because it’s almost entirely a creation of the mind, a social construct. It doesn’t exist except in the world of perception, which is where we live most of our lives instead of God’s eternal now. All sin starts from the assumption that my false self is a fundamental reality of life, to which everything else in the universe is ordered.

Isn’t that great:

R: Wow.

A: Now, what’s interesting about this, a couple terms in that before I talk about the true self definition. But we’ve discovered that reality, and we’re talking about capital R reality, is actually equals Truth, is actually equal to God, they’re all the same, is actually equal to Love, right? This is going to sound so simple, and it’s a simple a concept but very hard to do. This false self that we have created our entire lives to deal with the world around us, to deal with relationships, to deal with hurt, is not you. It’s a perception. And he calls it this and, once you understand that, again we’re going to get into this down the road, but once you truly understand that what you think is reality is actually a perception, then it becomes easier to understand, to see things from that perspective.

And, we talk about, Robin said it really well, the purpose, if I could boil it down, the purpose is to activate the true self. The purpose of this, the life of this earth. If you really believe that, if that was the most important thing to do, to uncover and unburden the true self, then every action would, how do I say this, every action can be filtered through that, meaning, Should I take this new job? Is it going to help that? Is it going to hinder that? That’s kind of the question we ask ourselves, with every decision we make, is this going to allow the true self to live? Or is this some mask or piling on of a false self, a false creation, our perception and not reality?

*Note, this is incorrect; this is not how we activate the true self*

R: Excellent definition of the false self.

A: Good right? It’s good.

R: Absolutely.

A: I’ll cover the true self. It’s a little shorter, but unbelievable.

At the center of our being is a point of nothingness, which is untouched by sin and untouched by illusion. A point of pure truth. A point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own minds or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is, so to speak, God’s name written in us. Once accepted in yourself, the divine image is then seen everywhere else, too. It’s as if a door opens in the center of our being and we seem to fall through it into immense depths. This door needs to be opened only once in our lifetime and you will forever know where home base is.

R: Wow. Yeah. Wow. Dang, that’s good. Wow.

A: Yeah. So any other comments on that? The false self?

R: Wow. I’m going to tell them. Andy’s tearing up a little bit.

A: One of the things I’m finding is that, this happens in movies, this happens when reading that is truth-related. Something touches you deep that you just can’t control.

R: Yeah. Tears well up. They’re like a truth detector

A: Yeah. Sorry.

R: The true self, I mean, who wouldn’t want that, right?

A: Again, this is going to come to one of the most core concepts of what we talk about, the dichotomy between the true self and false self. It is so ingrained in us that the false self is who we think we are. We call them false self needs. These are, when others meet these needs of the false self, we believe we need those people in our life to meet those. But, they just reinforce our false self.

R: Yeah, and and example. So, another word for the false self is your idealized self-image. So my false self, my idealized self image was someone who could work any job and be happy. I had, my idealized self had lots of friends and they were really good friends, meaning, they were willing to talk to me about their problems. It wasn’t just superficial stuff. I was an excellent listener, counselor, whatever, to my friends. I was, of course, the best mom I could possibly be, way better than my own mom. I was socially ept, very competent at all range of social interactions. I was, my physical body, was what I wanted it to be, the way I wore my clothes, the neighborhood I lived in was acceptable. All that stuff. That was my idealized, right? That wasn’t how I came across. That was far from reality, but in my head, that was what I was trying to reach for. That was what I kept trying to make happen. And I kept falling short. I think we all fall short of our idealized false self and I think that is what we spend most of our time doing, trying to get to that.

So that’s an example of a false self; there’s lots of others. But, yeah.

A: Excellent. We talked earlier about the connection between being in so much pain that the pain … I guess, two things you can talk about. How the pain has to get so great that change has to occur, that you’re willing to do the change. And the relationship between negative emotions and spiritual growth. Can you kind of handle those?

R: Yeah. I have to get into a little bit of, so we mentioned that emotions are God’s energy. We absolutely believe that and we believe it’s true of both the positive emotions, which together, we’ll give you a little preview, are love. And the negative emotions are God’s energy as well. Which means they have a purpose. God gave us those negative emotions to kind of slap us around a little bit and say, “Wake up! Yo. You are believing a lie. You are operating based on a belief about something that is not true.” And the result of that belief in a lie is you’re feeling sad, or angry, or afraid.

Ultimately, those negative emotions are an act of love from Him to get us to turn around. If that suffering, and by suffering that’s what I mean, I mean feeling one or more of those emotions. That is suffering. It’s basically all suffering is. So when those negative emotions, the quantity or the quality or the frequency becomes so great, as it did with me, that it causes us to turn around and question what the heck we’re doing? Yay. That’s what they’re supposed to do. That’s what they’re supposed to do! I’ll give you a secret, it’s like a shortcut.

If you actually allow yourself to fully feel that negative emotion, it will be very helpful in helping you do that turnaround. It will be very helpful in revealing truth to you. You’ll get insight. But you have to fully feel them. This is not venting, this is not tears welling up and then mushing them back down. This is letting them all out, baby.

So negative emotions are an integral part of this purpose in life and so that’s what happened to me. I was suffering so greatly, I was forced to look at my life and say, “Okay, something is seriously wrong here,’ and there’s something incredibly powerful about working on yourself. There’s something … I think we all kind of know that we go about working on helping others and doing charity and, what do they call it, virtue signaling, and doing all of these things to try to encourage others to do the right thing and so forth. I think we all kind of know that, it doesn’t really ring true. And maybe it sounds selfish to work on yourself, but it’s really all you have control over, now isn’t it?

And Peterson says this. He’s right. Start with yourself, man. Start with yourself and set the bar low and before you know it, that bar is pretty darn high. And, before you know it, you’ve worked on yourself enough that just by being a better person, you will have a positive effect on others. That won’t be your goal. That won’t be your purpose. That won’t be the thing you’re doing after. But it will be a fabulous by-product of working on yourself.

I’m afraid I might have diverged.

A: No, that’s perfect. What I want you to do, you kind of described, we’ve come up with what we call the Feelings Wheel. The top half of the wheel are what we call the negative emotions. The bottom of the wheel are what we call the positive emotions. And this will be available on our website, zaxislife.com. Can you give kind of an overview picture of that for people?

R: Sure. Early on, shortly after I came back from my odyssey. I think Andy came across something very similar, it was called an Emotions Wheel. I wish I could give the credit to the correct person; it was a woman who created it in the 70s, but we came across that and it wasn’t … it wasn’t to the scale of what we have now, but we were shocked at some of the words on that wheel, what we were feeling, when we tracked it back to the basic emotion underneath, we were shocked that that was the basic emotion.

For instance, frustration. Do you know what the basic emotion is? Of frustration? Do you know what frustration is a form of? Anger. Wouldn’t have guessed that.

A: No.

R: How about overwhelmed? What’s the basic emotion when you’re feeling overwhelmed? Fear. How about bored? Bored or numb? Guess what the basic emotion that is, really? Of bored or numb? Sad.

We started tracking these back, going whoa whoa whoa, wait a minute. And then we started noticing patterns about these emotions and what causes them and what kind of, what you can do about them, what they tell you about the situation you’re in, or the person you’re interacting with. We started noticing a lot of patterns. So we stated kind of revamping this wheel that we had found and now the Feelings Wheel ha gotten quite sophisticated and it operates in tandem with another wheel that we created, called the Control Wheel. It can be very enlightening and much more advanced topics.

But the basics are: ever negative emotion is either sadness, anger, or fear. Every positive emotion is peace, power, or joy. And the vast, vast majority of us do not spend any time in the positive emotions. It’s either negative or no negative emotions, just neutral.

A: Yeah. Lack of.

R: For most of us, that’s our greatest wish. Just stop the sadness, stop the fear, stop the anger. So, anyway, the Feelings Wheel is an extraordinary tool once you know the basic emotion that you’re feeling, then you can know, based on how we tell you how to use it, what is being done to you or what you’re believing about yourself, or what was done to you in the past, I’d say. And it’s very freeing because, I think you can speak to this Andy, that to know why you’re feeling something, generally, I don’t mean in each situation, but generally we can tell you why, it absolves you from feeling ashamed that you’re feeling it.

A: Yes.

R: Because I think, inside, we kind of take this responsibility that we’re feeling anger, that we’re feeling fear or sad, that there’s something wrong with us. Why are we feeling this, right? But the way we use that Feelings Wheel, man, it’s you in the sense that you’re believing something that’s not true giving rise to that negative emotion, but you’re not really the one causing it. It’s a weird way of saying that.

And that goes back to what you were saying, before you asked me to explain how negative emotions lead to growth. They are your cue. When you feel one of those, sadness, anger, or fear emotions, they’re your cue that you’ve got a lie somewhere in your belief system. Not your fault, somebody either taught that to you, or you had to create that belief in order to survive as a child, or whatever. But you’re the only one who can rip it out.

A: To speak to a personal note on that, one of the things I didn’t realize … what we’ve discovered that I didn’t realize is that no emotion originates with you. It’s, again, back to God’s energy. If you think of it as a flow like electricity, it’s constantly in flux or in flow and we are just tapping into that energy. And this isn’t a woo-woo kind of thing. This is, there’s actual scientific fact to back this up. But let me go to the Feelings Wheel a second and just out myself for a bit. I was so disconnected from my emotions that, when we developed this, and it still happens today, not as often, but I will experience a feeling in my body and I won’t know what that is and Robin always goes, “Just look at the Wheel and identify it.” And I keep forgetting how useful this is. As my spiritual growth has continued onward, I’m starting to feel emotions that have been repressed for years.

Like, probably last couple of months, I’m starting to feel the emotions under the anger realm, which I had never been able to feel before. I had always suppressed those. Now they come out in passive aggressive comments that I make but because I was raised in a family with a narcissistic mom, and we’ll get into this in later podcasts but, anger is one of the things that you’re really forbidden to express because it’s all about them and, make a long story short, they have the anger which gives them power.

It is amazing, when you’re feeling something, I just kept thinking, I was feeling low or down and I wanted to go take a nap and I’d look at that wheel and I would identify … these feeling are in a pie shape, so under sadness we have a category, let’s say, called Sad. And under that category there are a lot of subcategories like depression, grief, numb, despair, neglected. But then there are subcategories under that: melancholy, sleepy, loss, disappointed, apathetic, bored, hopeless, resigned, inferior, foolish, lonely, disconnected. Those are all under the sadness category of emotions of the Feelings Wheel.

So the Feelings Wheel is incredibly helpful for both of us. We use it every day. And again, we’ll get into more of this but, we have figured out so many other uses for this Feelings Wheel. Like Robin said, we’re backing into how other people have given us this actual negative emotion. I just wanted to add that to it.

R: Yeah, this whole podcast series is about spiritual growth, basically. That premise that negative emotion is your cue to the belief that needs to be shed, that is, I may be jumping the gun on another question, but, to define spiritual growth, that is how we define spiritual growth, which is ripping out those negative … those erroneous beliefs that are causing the negative emotions. The Feelings Wheel is something that is a tool that is going to be relevant for the rest of our lives. It’s not something that we use just to start out with. It’s something that we just every single day to identify what we need to focus on, basically.

A: Perfect. Can you speak to one thing? You talked about a shortcut, and give a quick overview, if you would and I know we’re going to get into this later, but, if you can fully feel an emotion, then you get insight from that quicker? Can you speak to that? What are the mechanics? If I can, when I heard that for the first time, when we started researching that, my thought was that makes no sense, right? What does it even mean to fully feel an emotion? I think a lot of people may be having that same issue, so if you can talk about that?

R: Sure, so the first … how to fully feel an emotion, I would say, is, you can’t make yourself feel an emotion, but you can stop blocking it. A great example is when you’re in a movie and it’s a sad movie, a sad scene, and it’s just heart wrenching, right? You know you’re doing that. You know you’re blocking those tears. It takes energy to block an emotion; it takes a lot of energy, actually. And you can feel that energy being used to not cry at that scene, right?

It takes awhile. It takes repeated us of that energy. And, if you get in the car and you drive home and you think about that scene, guess what? The tears threaten again! You have to use the energy again to block them. We’ll get into how important it is, how blocking emotions leads to such terrible things, but, later.

So, to feel an emotion, just stop blocking it! Now, if you’re afraid the neighbor will hear, go in your car. Drive to a remote place. Scream and yell all you want. I’ve done a lot of good crying in my car, a lot of good yelling in my car. Get, do what it takes. If you’ve got a closet, go to the closet, if that works, whatever. But I strongly encourage the full release of emotion. I know, my cat died. I know, it’s just a cat and a lot of people are dog people. I’m a cat person.