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Excerpted from You Can Feel Good Again by Richard Carlson. Copyright 1993 by Richard Carlson. Excerpted by permission of Penguin Putnam, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"Sudden shifts are accompanied by a feeling of inspiration."

  Richard Carlson, You Can Feel Good Again, Part 2

While the particulars of each sudden shift are unique, there are common denominators that seem to exist in all cases. First, the "shift" itself doesn't necessarily build on what we already know, but instead is seen suddenly, as if out of nowhere. in other words, the amount of information we have on the subject isn't the critical factor.

I was working with a client, George, who spent his entire life feeling prejudice about people of a specific race. He had a sudden shift in this perspective and realized (in his words), "What a fool I have been." What made this particular example so intriguing to me was that the two of us had never spoken about his prejudice. I never even knew he had this problem. His realization came about as he was discussing how his own thinking sometimes got in the way of his relationship with his wife. The shift that occurred in his consciousness was achieved without obtaining additional information about "the problem." He had intellectually known for years that all prejudice stems from ignorance, yet he still felt prejudice, until that moment. Something shifted within him.

I had a sudden shift of my own that is equally difficult to explain. I had spent my entire life frightened to death of public speaking. The very thought of speaking to a group made me sweat, and in two instances I actually fainted! Then, one day while eating lunch with some friends at a conference I was at-tending, I realized there was nothing to fear. I can't explain exactly why or how I had this insight, only that it happened. To this day, I am very comfortable speaking to groups of any size and do so quite frequently.

Second, sudden shifts are accompanied by a feeling of inspiration, sometimes described as "a light feeling," or "a nice feeling." Yvonne and Jim each described their sudden shift as a "feeling of incredible relief," as though a huge emotional burden had been lifted. Many clients have reported to me similar feelings of being "uplifted" in some powerful way as they experienced an insight that changed the way they looked at life. This feeling is often described as a sense of self-confidence. Later, I will discuss this in the context of your healthy psychological functioning.

Finally, sudden shifts are permanent in nature. When a shift occurs, there doesn't seem to be any turning back, at least not all the way. For example, it's hard for me to imagine being frightened by the act of speaking to a group. I can, however, have empathy for those who do, because I remember what it feels like. The idea of Yvonne and Jim hating each other, as they did for so long seems ridiculous. And my client George chuckles at the thought of disliking someone because of the color of his skin. This is the nature of insight--from the moment it happens, life looks different.

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