Then, let us continue.
1. Do you recognize your Character 3? Pause for a moment and imagine yourself being in this present-moment character. Let your left brain drift into the background as you bring your attention to the right here, right now and explore the immediate sounds, textures, sights, and smells. How easy is it for you to make this shift?
Pretty easy. Although, I have to admit, it does sound like the start of a yoga hour. Good thing I have incense burning, right here, right now. Apparently, this limbic quarter of the brain is attuned to the entire sensory field, regardless of our focused attention. Imagine you are staring at a slice of pizza that makes your mouth water. Character 3 was the one that had originally intuited the whole pizza, to then determine that this was the slice worth eating. A split second decision, nearly unconscious. (No one sits there to deliberate which slice to pick up first; our brain goes, uh, dat one — after having glanced upon those 16 inches of yum.)
Lately I have been reaching my apartment elevator at around the same minute every morning. Oddly enough,my chest either tightens or it doesn’t right before I press the button to open the doors. When my chest does tighten, then the elevator is waiting for me. If my chest is relaxed, then the elevator is on another floor and it must come to my level. I haven’t figured out why my body reacts to whether or not the elevator is on my floor before I press the button. Much less how. Could my limbic brain be tuning in to some detail about the elevator doors? Maybe they are ajar when the elevator is behind the doors. But straight when the elevator is on another floor. Or the elevator is programmed to return to my floor after a period of inactivity? This doesn’t explain how my body knows. Who knows. Not me.
2. What does Character 3 feel like inside of your body? Do you feel your heart expand? Do you stand more on your tippy-toes as though you are lighter? What does your Character 3 feel like when you are having an experience right here, right now?
Pretty relaxed. While reading the chapter, a wave of gratitude washed over me. I was happy about being relaxed, that the semester had wound down, my work put on pause. With only relaxing and reading and meeting friends and family left to do until the new year. And all this while I was reading. It’s a calmness, an inner stillness. No emotions, no anger, no resentment, no excitement, no acceleration of the heart, nah. Only my real, true, immediate sensations: the seat pressing on me; my forehead a little light from the incense; my wrists warm from the laptop; and a car zooming by outside, exiting the highway.
Sometimes, when I get a little road raged, and I get a lotta road rage, it helps me calm down to remember how many other drivers don’t know me, who did not notice the ‘ass’ cutting me off. It is humbling to drive on, see dozens of cars with their own little worlds spinning, music playing, errands running. To recognize that no one cares about me honestly puts me at ease. It assures me that my call to rage is less than a bump on the road. I guess one of my main stressers is worrying what other people think. If no one notices me, then my Character 3 winks, takes a bow, and guides me to feel the bigger picture.
3. But what if you don’t recognize your right-brain emotional Character 3?
This happens by default, because I am mostly focused on getting something done. Paying attention to my words and actions. Noticing what others are doing and saying. So much that I am constantly reaching for pizza slices, while forgetting about the whole. If some one takes the slice I had my eye on, I get mad. If someone doesn’t wash his hands before touching my slice, even more so. When, in fact, there is a whole lot of pie left.
4. Assuming you can identify your right-brain emotional Character 3, do you like how this character expresses itself inside of you? How much of the time do you let your Character 3 run your life, and under what circumstances?
There are few sights more beautiful than turning towards the horizon as I drive, to notice the parting of morning clouds before the dawn. Or, when my wife complains of nausea and tenderness: it is incredible to realize why. Like everything is and has fallen in the right place at the right time. As satisfying as running a wet finger around the rim of a tall glass of champagne. Or holding my breath between smacked beats, as my palms bangs the edge of a table to an obnoxious rhythm, just before hitting harder and faster. I love that pause before writing the next sentence, where I ask myself, “What the hell will make me feel something?” That a-ha moment. The click. A groove. Where deep down I already know the answer: it is just a matter of putting it down.
5. As you think about your Right Emotional Character 3, can you assign it an appropriate name? [Note to the editors of this book; you forgot to insert a gray text box on this page, 118.]
Dr Taylor relates her Character 3 to Jung’s Anima/Animus. Years ago I decided my Anima was called Ana. So there. I’m Ana = Anima.
6. Who are some of the Character 3s who have influenced you over the course of your life, in positive or negative ways?
The people I most admire and look up to. The ones who noticed their entire surroundings. My father. My uncle. People who never lost sight of the bigger picture. Bukowski. Dostoevsky. People who jam on stage or on camera. Phoebe Bridgers. St Vincent. Those who drew from their gut to paint the real world. Insert every inspiration.
7. Who in your life appreciates, cares for, identifies with, and wants to hang out with your Character 3?
A roommate once told me I should keep posting songs on FaceBook, because he said he appreciates my taste. I had been complaining about no one reacting to my posts. So I asked why nobody clicked Like. His reply, “We listen.” Another friend told me that when we hang the vibe is always good. He always shows up when I invite him. Such a homie. And I suppose any and all of my readers, who vibe with what my anima has to say — she’s one half of every word I write. If we take Jungian psychology seriously, s/he means.
8. Who in your life does not get along with your Character 3?
People I lost touch with, or never associated with, or who thought I was a square boy in a round world. Blasting through my mind are images of memories of classmates and colleagues who didn’t get the strange things I blurted out in class or at work. “What do you mean?” became a mantra during a workshop class, in reference to my writing. Wasn’t it obvious? The what-do-you-mean folks and I don’t keep up anymore. The ones who didn’t get what I had to say, but were willing to understand, phrased is different: “You meant this right? Oh, no? That? Ah, ok.”
9. What kind of parent, partner, or friend is your Character 3?
The kind of lady friend I may or may not have slept with, some drunken night of yore. Regardless, we kept in touch. Grew close. And now share deep dark secrets with each other. As well as ask for advice often. Probably the best two way relationship I have with any of the Characters so far. Two is always shouting. One is always condescending. Three is the chillest.
10. Although we have not yet fully examined Character 4, it is important to consider how kind the relationship between your characters inside your head is. How does your Character 3 relate to your other characters?
Three and 2 are in an open relationship with each other. But only because they each got broken up with, by Character 1, who is kind of a hung playboy know it all. Character 1 remained friends with both, though, since he is smarter, more cunning, but also a useful friend to keep around. Meanwhile Character 1 knows he can’t get anywhere if it doesn’t feel his way around the world. So he negotiates deals with 2 and 3 toward realizing win-wins. In exchange he hears out the needs of 2 and 3 and almost always delivers. Holidays are spent together. Lol. This is silly! Time to leave.
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