What is your experience like of how you get back to neutral?

Hi all,

I realize it is not often talked about how to go from the depths of feeling bad, back to neutral. I believe the TMOBA article only has one sentence mentioning it.

For me it always seemed intuitive enough - mostly a matter of agreeing with myself that I want to get back to neutral , and then sort of sitting with it and letting it wear out (as opposed to continuing to fuel it).

It seems there’s also an element of first acknowledging fully that I am feeling bad. If I don’t do this then I can’t go from feeling bad to feeling neutral because I don’t recognize there is a feeling bad to go from!

And part of it also seems to be, once acknowledged, is feeling the bad feeling fully. Feeling the feeling fully seems to naturally open up feeling neutral as an option.

I’m curious to hear your experiences as well. Is it a step that is challenging or easy? Did it take you a while to figure out how to do it or it was obvious from the start?

And also, do you have the same experience with ‘good’ feelings - that you must get to neutral first - or is that a different pathway?

My intent with the questions is to elucidate all aspects of the pathways in the diagram and how they work (or what the challenges are) in practice for the actualists doing them. With the idea of improving the diagram and/or for an eventual interactive version.


1 Like

When I read the title this is exactly what I thought. I just kinda wait. Or if I can I try to do something that’s a treat for me or will be fun. But I really don’t have many strategies than that and more often than not investigating will lead me in circles. I may be able to ‘uncover’ something but psychological realizations don’t tend to make me feel better.

I have a tendency to overlook or downplay good & bad emotions. I’m finding that the moment I first acknowledge them, it’s easier to take things a bit less seriously. Also, this may seem counterintuitive, but I’ve been encouraging and trying to feel more. That is, when an emotion pops up, I try to operate under the assumption that I’ve been clamping down and repressing my feelings, so I try to really feel whatever it is I’m feeling. I sense this could better help me intuitively feel myself out. I got the idea to feel more from @geoffrey 's video when he encouraged a viewer to feel.

I think the advice surrounding going from nuetral to good made sense, but putting it into practice is a learning process. I’m generally fine with not expressing my emotions, but they often hung around for a while. I can have a hard time shaking things off.

I have a really hard time with good feelings. Empathy hasn’t been an issue to recognize and shift away from, partly because I think it’s a sad feeling and I don’t enjoy that. Beauty on the other hand has been popping up a lot lately - - which is also sad in its own way. I think the hardest “good” feelings to deal with are euphoric ones because they’re mixed up with feeling good. At that point I’m usually just enoying myself more than trying to sift out the good feelings.


If i feel it fully and deeply enough it just dissolves. Really appreciate the sensations until it just evaporates.

In my experience it starts from pure intent, I have to have that moment happen, “Oh right I’m not wanting to be miserable/malicious/loving/compassionate, I’m taking a different approach”

Once I remember that, then usually I distract myself by looking at my surroundings or paying attention to something else. That generally achieves ‘neutral’ pretty quickly if I set my mind to it.


Something similar happens when we feel bad due to physical discomfort or pain (I guess this little story is more for my journal but maybe someone will get something useful right now, so…)

Today I slept from 00.00 until 1:30 when I woke up startled by a sharp discomfort in my stomach; I also had a lot of pain in my left foot. I got up and felt emotionally bad for about half an hour for feeling physically bad, and for anticipating that the next day would be poorly used for work because of my tiredness.

At around 2 o’clock I stopped to fully feel the physical discomfort, and trying to separate it from the bad feelings it was giving me (a strategy I often resort to). In a short time I began to feel less bad, but still not neutral.

Many years ago I noticed that at this point it is easier for me to go from bad to neutral, or from neutral to good by doing physical tasks or chores (cooking, washing, fixing something) and attempting at the same time HIAETMOBA, increasing pure intent, etc. Later I found out that Alan and apparently Richard had also experienced something similar:

ALAN: Beware of putting an effort into fighting these attacks –guess who is making the effort– ‘I’ am. As well as writing all these things down, as they occur, I am finding that physical activity is of assistance.

RICHARD: Yes, physical activity –doing the normal day-to-day things– will help to keep one grounded here and now…

(General Correspondence Alan)

(If my physique does not allow them, playing computer games is usually my choice. If even this is not possible, reading or watching TV lying down).

Yesterday I sat down to do part of a project that I knew would give me satisfaction but that I had been delaying privileging more useful tasks. I felt pretty good despite the physical discomfort that continued.

At 3 o’clock the discomfort diminished and I felt sleepy again but I could not fall asleep because of my stomach. For a while I again felt bad due how unpleasant it is to be sleepy and unable to fall asleep because of physical problems, being tired of “this same thing again”, feeling “getting older and more deteriorated”, etc. I was moderately tempted to once again take whatever painkillers were necessary to make the pain go away and sleeping pills to sleep. These temptations are red flags that I know well, so I went back to paying attention to myself in a similar way as before, to separate physical from psychic suffering. I managed to return to neutral more quickly than before.

However, I could no longer sit down because of leg and waist discomfort, so I decided to lie down in a sofa to watch the second half of “Office space”. I got to feeling pretty good, as my laughter attested.

At 9:30 I started my normal work and home routine (just later), although privileging physical tasks or intellectual tasks that require less concentration to avoid much effort, frustration, etc., which led me until now to feel mostly good (but to achieve and mantain this state, now I must observe without reacting thoughts and feelings related to “I should be doing something more useful”, “there’s the OTHER task waiting”, etc.).

1 Like

I pretty much second everyone’s response here. It’s probably been alluded to in these posts but I’m at work and feel like adding that I find that “I” am at my most cunning when trying to get back to feeling neutral/good. It’s like “my” time to shine. Pure intent and naïveté is never more necessary than in these instances, I reckon.

Just yesterday, for the first time in a long, long time I found myself not feeling good. I went to the backyard for a before bedtime cigarette, after which a flood of emotions came rushing forth. Good ones and terrible ones, alternating, leaving me in a kind of daze. The thought “you’ve been repressing your emotions, haven’t you?”, popped up, followed by “no I haven’t you just want to remain relevant you sick bastard!”

I felt sick for what would’ve been around 15-20 minutes. Then came the I noticed the gentle autumn breeze, the branches of the trees swaying back and forth, the cat devouring the food in her bowl and the elegance of her shoulders as she leaned forward, the deliciously sweet air filling my lungs. All was well once again.

I then remembered my PCEs, as well as remembered how I would’ve reacted/responded to such feelings and internal dialogue in the past (with despair, despondency, rage etc) Such a difference! My pure intent prevented me from falling into the abyss of the psyche. Those thoughts and feelings, like the barking of an untrained puppy eventually dissipated.


I think it must be reiterated that this actualism stuff is soooo friggin’ simple, that the complexaholic thinking and feeling self has a damn hard time “getting” it.


I’ve highlighted some excerpts above to indicate that, it seems for you guys you don’t distinguish so much between the step from bad → neutral vs. the step from neutral → good?

i.e. Is it accurate that you all use mostly those same techniques for one vs. the other? And if you are feeling bad it’s a matter of whether you end up in neutral or good after applying the techniques?

And from what is written above it sounds like these techniques would all fit into the “Set it Aside” category on the diagram (i.e. the part that comes after “Stuck”). And the quality/approach of the ‘set it aside’ is the same as whether you are going from bad → neutral or from neutral → good – is that accurate? Or are there any differences in the qualities of these?

I ask because after having worked out the diagram(s) several times, I’ve come to see bad->neutral and neutral-> good as two distinct pathways:

Good → neutral:

  • If I am feeling good and I observe the dip to neutral, I am doing well enough that I can identify the trigger, and see it as silly, at which point, simply by virtue of seeing it as silly, I am once again feeling good.
  • Only if this does not work – i.e. I either can’t spot the trigger, or see it as silly – only then am I stuck, and I employ a ‘set it aside’ type technique.

Good → bad:

  • On the other hand, if I am feeling good and I observe the dip to feeling bad — then I employ the “bad → neutral” step (as in my initial post).
  • If this doesn’t work (i.e. I can’t get back to neutral) – only then do I employ the ‘set it aside’ type technique.
  • If it does work (i.e. I am neutral again), then I try the trigger-identifying-and-silliness-seeing approach.
  • And again, only then if seeing the silliness does not work, do I do a more through “Set it Aside”.

So for me, as I wrote in my first post, the first bad → neutral step isn’t necessarily the same as stuck → … set aside … → I find myself feeling good again. Rather it’s a bit more of an immediate thing, if it works – more of a not-fueling it than a more ‘complete’ set it aside.

Am curious to hear your guys’ thoughts on this – is it something you haven’t thought of before - i.e. a possible way to refine your techniques? Or have you tried and it simply doesn’t work that way for you in practice?

Notably I ask because I observe that what is reported here is ‘set it aside’ type techniques to get back to feeling good – and there isn’t a mention of the ‘see the silliness’ approach – which seems to me the more effective technique, i.e. the thing to try first, and only resort to ‘set it aside’ once that doesn’t work.

That is except for @milito.paz 's report which I read more as an ability to rememorate feeling good and get right back directly to that from feeling bad, by virtue of tapping into pure intent – which seems the most effective of all :smiley: .

This can all be a bit clunky to get into the details of but I’m interested in really refining the explication of the techniques and seeing how it works in practice for people, at a detailed level.

1 Like

I actually have a great example to remember back to as me and @Sonyaxx had some issues pop up the other day and things got pretty sorrowful/malicious on my end. I actually fudged up a lot of the below steps which is exactly why I have been thinking about what to do the next time. Times when I have successfully navigated out of being overwhelmed have roughly followed the below process.

It seems the main thing is to stop whatever is happening and address the fact that I am feeling very bad. The default is to spin round in the depths of the feeling, the feeling intensifying itself in a spiral, awareness-cum-attentiveness will begin to limit this growing inferno that is the emotion.

So firstly I stop what I am doing and become attentive to the fact that I am overwhelmed by emotion. I ensure that I am not repressing or actively feeding into the emotion.

Secondly I make sure to keep my hands in my pockets to avoid doing things which will make the situation worse or set of secondary triggers which will again only serve to make the feeling bad worse. The feeling bad is then put in a bind. The bind consist of (psychically) not moving in any direction whilst at the same time being fully aware of the feeling in action. It seems important at this step (if truly overwhelmed) to not make any efforts of investigation at all, even finding the trigger might be a bad idea at this point.

If the above 2 steps are somewhat successful the feeing will start to be somewhat ‘capped’, because I am no longer feeding or running from it, also because I have kept my hands in my pockets it is not growing into anything more. Putting it in the bind and being aware of it fully eventually robs it of its blood supply and the feeling begins to diminish to a somewhat acceptable level, this might take some time though.

It is around this point (once the initial storm is over) that I can begin gathering a sincere intent to get out of this hole I am currently in. By seeing that I am not doing anyone any favours by remaining consumed by this emotion. I make an agreement with myself to move out of this emotion, to allow a movement into neutral. Somewhere around this point I will begin to ask myself some basic questions around what is happening as putting a name to it seems to be key for developing sincerity.


A lot to think about. I guess what I can say now immediately is that I don’t make much of a distinction between feeling neutral and feeling good. They are different points on the continuum of “not bad”, degrees of goodness or “not badness”.

I refrained from stating this explicitly to not take away from what might be a useful distinction for my other Actualist comrades :sunglasses:

I guess a big difference between good, neutral and bad is the clarity of seeing, the ability to use one’s intelligence to asses. This is severely affected when in the depths of emotion so I think this is way a different approach is used.

An extreme example would be EE or PCE where ones intelligence operates freely and most/all issues are immediately seen as silly.

Oh and also pure intent, when in the depths it is not available, up the felicitous ladder the connection is stronger.

1 Like

Ah for me it is huge :slight_smile: feeling good , even at a basic level, is when I’m back into the sweet expansive flow of the actualism method , back on the wide and wondrous path. I got “the edge” back into it and everything is swimming.

While neutral is just … neutral , nothing special , not into that flow yet - but very close !


You know on second thoughts I’m going to have to agree with you. I guess the reason I felt inclined to put it the way I did, is because in my practice and experience it’s such a small, fluid step from feeling neutral to feeling good, that I overlook it.

But I stand corrected. There is a big difference.


I have been thinking about your reflections. I think some of the problems/doubts you have with our testimonials/comments (and what may reveal about our problems/doubts with our own observations/experiences) may be due to several issues:

  • As with all discrete scales describing continuous processes such as those from, for example, “feeling overwhelmed” to “feeling excellent,” the changes between two successive states are more difficult to determine than between two states far apart.

  • In such continuous processes the boundary between one state and the other is often arbitrarily judged: someone may use “good” to describe the same state that qualitatively another describes with “neutral”. But, as I will detail next, on top of that the same person can label them differently according to what he/she felt immediately before, or according to what he/she is used to feel more habitually (habituation).

For example, your description of feeling good “is when I’m back into the sweet expansive flow of the actualism method, back on the wide and wondrous path. I got “the edge” back into it and everything is swimming”, I would not label it as a “basic level”, which I reserve for simply feeling good without felicitous feeling (what @geoffrey has recently called “ordinary feeling good”, to which any non-actualist can relate). In other words, your description on my scale would already correspond to having mixed felicitous feelings (and then it would not be “basic level”).

  • As in all psychological states and especially affective ones, their description is influenced by biases such as anchoring and hindsight: when one goes from feeling bad to a less bad state x, one may consider/label it “good” because of the unpleasantness of that previous state; when one goes from feeling good to the same -but now less good state- x, one may call it “neutral” because of the pleasantness of that previous state. That is, we may value/label differently two equal emotional moments/states, depending on how we felt before (or even after, retrospectively).

  • Also our labels change when our habitual state changes (habituation): I have often thought that many of my current so called “neutral” states are the states I considered “good” when I started AF, and many that now consider just good are the ones I considered very good then. It is because my habitual state then was much worse than it is now. Viewed from the opposite perspective, if I had been able to travel to the present day back then, I would have considered/labeled many of my current neutral states as “good”, and my current good ones as “very good”.

These are just reflections about the problems that labeling always involves and also of the relative usefulness of doing so beyond a certain point, and/or from a practical perspective. But let’s see if I can contribute something to your specific questions:

but as in that first post you wrote…

I assumed that you want to hear about experiences that were not reduced to “identify the trigger” and “see the silliness”, but more complex ones.

So that’s why I chose to report a type of experience in which I saw the trigger but “the thing to try first” failed indeed. I thought it was implicit that I could not ‘see the silliness’ in that experience and that I could not

Also, I think we all thought about reporting “back to neutral from feeling bad” due to the most common interpretation/experience of the “back to neutral” in the title of the topic, but mainly due to your intro:

That’s why I’m confused about your references in your last post, not anymore to “feeling bad, back to neutral”, as in:

That’s why the next reference again to “bad→neutral” seemed incompatible/confusing to me in relation to the above:

Now that I think of it better, I prefer not to lengthen this post by answering your other questions yet (they can always be addressed later, anyway).

Ah I see the disconnect.

Drawing from the simplified diagram… here is the ‘feeling bad’ part:


As you can see, there is no ‘identify the trigger’ step. That is, before identifying the trigger — the instruction is to get back to feeling neutral, first.

As Richard put it:

That is, as the chart faithfully conveys, before even trying to identify the trigger – – – get back to neutral, first.

So to re-state it, my question is:

  • When feeling bad, before you try to identify the trigger and see the silliness, what do you do to get to that step of feeling neutral (from where it is fruitful to identify the trigger and then see the silliness)?

My question doesn’t relate to difficulties with identifying the trigger or seeing the silliness etc… or what one does after one is ‘stuck’, i.e.:


Well you snipped out the relevant part :smiley:

The “Good → bad” header just indicates the step that comes before feeling bad, i.e. I was feeling good, and now I’m not – I’m feeling bad. And now I have to get back to neutral.

The “Good → neutral” header was to indicate the contrast – that if I was feeling good and now I’m neutral, I can go directly to identifying the trigger… while if I was feeling good and now I’m feeling bad, I have to get to neutral first.

I hope that clarifies the nature of my queries?

About the reflections at the start of your post, I think there is worthwhile stuff to discuss there, but perhaps better to get to the end of this thread first.

Oh and to address this, I see why no report would include a see the silliness approach if the reports were taking about the step after being ‘stuck’ (due to the aforementioned disconnect).

Where I was coming from with this observation is I wondered why the attempt wasn’t , after going from bad to neutral, to identify the trigger and see the silliness , but kept going to feeling good via a set it aside approach.

But if one was reporting a point after already ‘stuck’ then it makes sense why that was the case.

Thank you Claudiu and Miguel. I want to talk about my feelings for the past 2 days, which may belong under Journal section, but I will post it here also for I think it is relevant to this topic.

I have been feeling bad ( fear, unhappiness and a sense of dread at the bottom of the stomach) on and off for the last 2 days. When I go for the pce walks ( 2 times a day, morning and afternoon ,1+ hour each time - and mostly enjoy seeing the beautiful reflection of trees and the sky against the bottom of the pond rocks) , I can bring myself to feel happy and even maybe experience EE. But other times when I do HAIETMOBA, I came up with not feeling good, So this morning in bed between 4-7 a.m. I tried feeling it out, and told myself that I need to be able to face this [ fear, anxiety, unhappiness, dread] completely, so I am not running from it. In the mix of all this, I came across envy, for Geoffrey having gone snow boarding and having fun ( Freed and I am not). Then I told myself maybe, instead of concentrating on my feelings, I should “see that the whole problem is because of “me” my being” so I should concentrate on getting rid of “me”, instead of trying to get rid of my feelings – and I said maybe I am fooling myself and trying to get away from applying the method correctly ( judging myself ?) .

Leila is translating Richard’s article on man/woman relationship and states how one should shine a light on feelings and be exposed to them, I guess? I came up with the analogy of Us Humans having been exposed to hidden ( like Wifi ) feelings that we can not stand nor understand, we try to avoid them, hide them and run away from them. They scare us, make us uncomfortable and reactionary. Maybe only by staying in the hidden “Wifi Field” of were these feelings are generated and being able to tolerate the discomfort ( dread, hello Hennrrrrrry ), we might be able to discover or develop tolerance or eliminate the source of these Hidden Fields.

The reason I am writing all of these is that fear, unhappiness and dread has been a common theme in my life ( and I have such a rush of bad feelings in all my body writing this now). But maybe I need to face this.

I try to feel good by breathing exercise of { breathing in “feeling happy” , breathing out “feeling good” – this maybe a suggestion for @Andrew ? when he is feeling overwhelmed ), but maybe I am trying to paste feeling good on not feeling good?

To summarize, I am having a hard time feeling good ( ordinary feeling good). I feel so vulnerable and weak, that everything has to be good and no problems, no discomfort, no pain, no worries that then I can be relaxed. I am feeling some shame that I relate these feelings, but I can not control them, so I have decided to expose them and share them.

I feel a little better now, trying to Enjoy and Appreciate Experiencing the Universe ( my body and things around me), at this moment. And I think I do have sincere intent, otherwise I would not be thinking about this stuff all day, and wouldn’t be worried about not feeling good. Thanks for allowing this space for me.

1 Like

Next time, @FrankN, instead of repeating/copy-pasting a whole post (here or anywhere else) you can write an intro/few lines and then share a link to your Journal post (or any other post you want to avoid repeating/copy-pasting) -if you don’t know how, you can ask me in the category “Site feedback” or by private message and I’ll show you-.

Regarding your words, I found them very honest, trying to un-cover what you are feeling, because, yes: precisely in relation to this topic (the attempt to at least get back to neutral) and your report, is relevant and very useful the following @claudiu’s experience/advice from his first post:

I think you’re on the right path with looking at these ‘invisible wifi’ feelings, @FrankN.

So long as enjoying & appreciating is reserved for the PCE walks (I like that btw, good idea), then ‘I’ am ultimately safe because I still get to keep being ‘me,’ and any PCEs or other enjoyable experiences stay restricted to those walks.

What you want, is for that sense of freedom & enjoyment that you experience on the walks to expand into other parts of your life. That means moving the baseline on emotion in all parts of life.

I think there are a couple of different ways of approaching this issue, both with their benefits.

The first is that, attentiveness inherently weakens emotion/self. ‘Self’ does not want to be seen; it wants you to act. By not acting, and instead activating the greatest degree of fascinated interest you can in those moments, several interesting things happen: for the first time you get to see exactly what emotion/self consists of, giving you an opportunity to connect some interesting dots. And, with the fascinated attentiveness engaged, the emotion cannot last long. Just by watching it, neither expressing nor repressing, the emotion goes away pretty quickly.

The second would be dropping the emotion on purpose, getting back to feeling good (or neutral) using whatever method you can, and investigating it ‘from the outside’ via attentiveness, identify the trigger, sincere interest, and using your appraisal to determine the best way to be / thing to do in future similar situations.

I think that both of these are valid investigation and compliment eachother, perhaps a good way to go about it is try one or the other, whichever is most interesting to you at the moment, maybe even do the first and then the second directly after! And keep an eye on how it’s working, do more if you’re having success, make some tweaks or try again if not.

This is also a very relative game we’re playing here, and as more and more work is done and successes had, you will get better at it and gain greater and greater confidence.

For my own part, in the several years I have even had panic attacks where I now just watch what’s happening, watch my body and psyche do weird things, but there’s such a degree of interest and fascination occurring that I’m quite unbothered by the experience - in fact, I’ve benefitted from it because I just got an invaluable glimpse into ‘me’ at core.

It’s just another thing to enjoy, really… very strange!


How would that be different than psychotherapy ?