Recently, my husband Walt was injured; nothing he did, just "things happen."
It was our typical evening, with crashing after the day's "abundance," then breaking free of work, settling into our chairs in the living room, chatting it up, having dinner, then Walt walking Tammy, our dog.
Yet this evening in Walt's walk down the steps of our local park, he missed a step and . . . a fall . . . and injuries.
Now, some eight weeks later, Walt is still confronting that pain and using precision EBT to support recovery. Lots of spiral ups involved.
In the many spiral ups involved, as we understand that our love affair cannot go on forever, I found a new appreciation for EBT.
Do I choose love?
I said to myself, "If I had stayed the recipient of my set point from my childhood and later "challenges," I would never have known love.
When the reptilian brain "owns" us, the multi-layered emotions of loving connection go flat. In A General Theory of Love, three UCSF psychiatrists who studied the rewiring of the emotional brain wrote about the steely eyes of the reptile, devoid of limbic connection.
We're all like reptiles at Brain State 5, as emotions run afoul, into territories of dissociation and hyperarousal. Stress chemicals do that to us, and nobody is left out from reptilian emotional extremes when the fight-or-flight response is stuck on.
In the writing of early books on EBT, in describing using the method to become more emotionally alive, I relied on the metaphor of Noah's ark. The idea was that animals came out of the ark in pairs (for procreation's sake), just the way that emotions do. We can't embrace positive emotions unless we open ourselves to negative ones. We earn our way to feeling those rapturous positive emotions by doing the nuts-and-bolts work of learning to unravel tortuous feelings so they bring joy – the function of EBT.
As the greatest emotion is love – joy, in fact, is the anticipation of loving connection – that model becomes most important for matters of the heart. If we choose to love, then we must surrender to the reptilian forces for long enough to release overcontrol and choose spiritual connection, the ultimate love. Often that is more than enough, but given the demands of modern life, having a toolset that spirals us up to a joy – gritty or pristine – can help.
Spiraling up to love
The lower our set point, the more the amygdala activates memories stored in stress overload, when the reptilian brain is in charge. Most of us have a hefty storehouse of unprocessed circuits ("emotional clutter") that activate without our permission. The more of that clutter we have, the more we need the EBT toolset if we seek to ground our lives in love.
So, perhaps the question is: "Would I rather be a reptile and protect myself from gritty love, the joys and sorrows, or become vulnerable, and allow my life to quiver and my voice to shake at times because I love that much?"
Perhaps the greatest gift of the method is to bolster our bravery to love.
Making that choice
The beauty of the connection between two swans and the willingness to release control and choose love, even though grieving is the price we pay, is easier because we can spiral up.
We can disassemble the toxic emotions and turn them into the emotional content of transcendence.
Making that choice to love more deeply is the essence of EBT. The first four rewards are falling in love with ourselves, and the last three are falling in love with others, the spiritual, and the gritty nature of life itself.
Perhaps that's the lesson here, to know we really can choose love in whatever form it comes to us, and as that love develops, we can spiral up through the transitions and love even more.