Making Changes MenuMind & Consciousness MenuTalk Therapy MenuEducation & Learning MenuHealthy Relationships MenuAutism Spectrum MenuAddictions, Risk, and Recovery MenuWeight & Fitness MenuHuman Personality MenuScientific Method Menu

An Emergence Practitioner's Response to the
"Are You Bad At Math?" Test

Continuing Our Research into
the Psychology of Mental Health and Illness

by Ed D'Urso

In this transcript, you'll read Master Emergence Practitioner Ed D'Urso's responses to the brief research project we have been conducting on the psychology of mental health and illness. In this project, we will contrast and compare the three primary views from which therapies are practiced; the psycho medical view, the psycho functional view, and the psycho visual view. To do this, we have set the stage by using a common life situation;"being bad at math"; as the first test situation.

Please note that Ed originally addressed his comments to me; also, that I have several times added Master Teacher comments so as to guide the reader toward the significance of his remarks. To wit, please notice the obvious evidence of Ed's emergences; his ability to vividly recall pleasant surprises. We Emergence Practitioners see these "epiphanies" as the only valid proof of healing.

Ed prefaced these responses with ...

Dear Steve,

This is my second attempt at writing these experiences. As you know, I lost my first attempt to a computer crash. Hopefully my memory will serve me. Better yet, hopefully my vision will serve me.

As you correctly predicted, this time, it seems a lot more challenging. I am, in fact, even now, beginning to go into shock. Why? Because I can't seem to recall what I said the first time. It just doesn't seem to be working.

Maybe I should stop trying to repeat what I said and just get on with it. Oh, well. Here goes ...


Doing the Survey - Ed's First Two Emergences

We begin this opus with my doing the "Are You Bad at Math" survey on Saturday (June 11) at the Master Teacher's group. I can still picture you sitting across from me on the floor. I can also still see the excitement in your eyes. More so, I can also remember how afraid and uncertain I felt, as we began to explore my ability to picture numbers. [note: These words indicate that as Ed began writing this to me, he entered the state of consciousness we call, "pre-healing"; the state of "hyper awareness." How can I tell? By his ability to vividly recall the pain in the event. What comes next, then; his "I realize ..." sentence; then indicates this indeed, did end in an emergence.]

I realize as I write this that this has been a feeling I have always associated with numbers, math, time, and money, a gnawing dread that has left me with such a lack of confidence, that at one point, it forced me to abandon my childhood dream. I had wanted to become a marine scientist. However, it occurred to me that chemistry was just another word for math. When I realized this, I gave up my dream and began looking elsewhere for a career. [note: This realization will in all likelihood be an emergence of major proportion for Ed and will affect his choice of careers for the rest of his life.]

Be this as it may, there are two points of awareness I want assert before I go on. The first is what I felt during the survey, when I was asked to rate my ability at math.

I remember answering that I was "average." I especially recall how self-conscious I felt as I said this, and how painfully aware I became of everyone else in the room. It seems my being asked "how are you at math" provoked both shame and embarrassment at my not being "good" with numbers.

There was a point, though, when these feelings passed, and were replaced with a feeling of delight. When did this happen? Sometime after the test when I realized, I had been able to picture all ten numbers and also, that I could write these ten numbers in more than one style. I also remember realizing, in that same moment, how my sense of "how good I am at math" had changed from that of a nervous "average" to that of a confident "good."

More important still, I also realized how powerfully my "being unable to picture" has negatively affected my confidence, in that whenever I've attempted to do something I can't picture, I end up feeling like I am guessing or worse, that I am just forcing it, or faking it. In truth, I guess I have been guessing. And forcing it. And faking it. Further, I can now see how this has been happening every time I've tried to do something which I can't picture.

Doing things I can't picture feels a lot like driving blind. Not a great feeling. On the other hand, when I start to do something I can picture, I feel powerful, connected, and confident. The upshot is, taking this survey made me realize even more deeply the value in picturing. More over, I now feel more inspired than ever to make this a part of my conscious practice.

Seeing the Good in Figuring Discounts - Ed's Third Emergence

As I said, Saturday, we did the survey. On Monday, then (2 days later), I was with Netta (his wife) walking through a clothes store. Eventually we found our way to the sales rack, where Netta found a top she liked which was priced at forty percent off. Closer inspection revealed there were some minor defects in the shirt.

At that moment, the sales woman walked over and asked if she could help. I showed her the defects and asked if we could get any more off the price. After checking with her manager, she told us she could take off an additional ten percent.

Netta was still unsure, and immediately, I found myself doing the math. The regular price of the shirt was $32.00. Forty percent of this would $12.80, making the price an even $20.00. The additional ten percent would make it $16.00.

After I did these calculations, I then asked Netta, "Figure you'll get to wear the shirt at least four times. Would it be worth $4.00 a wear?" Hearing this, Netta said no, and we left.

So what was different to me? What was different was, although I have always known how to calculate percentages, I've never enjoyed doing it. This experience, then, was the first time I remember enjoying this process.

It was also new for me to convert the numbers the way I did, into a "price-per-wear" number. More important, I also noticed a similarity between this event and how I felt during the survey, when Steve would ask me to rewrite my first attempts in a different style.

Business Ethics with Money - Ed's Fourth Emergence

On Tuesday (now, 3 days later), I met with one of my clients, a woman studying finance. No surprise then that in this session, she brought in a book on finance, a book on securities to be exact.

During the session, she told me she had been studying for the Series Six exam. She also told me that she wanted my help with this studying. Then, while she went on to explain exactly what she needed help with, I explored the book.

Surprisingly, I found myself fascinated by this book. More over, as she continued, I began to notice how urgently she wanted my help. Then, as I began to feel a desire to help her, I remembered how difficult giving her this help had been in the past. This client sees me only every other week, as this is all she can afford. She is also a proud woman and has refused my offers to lower her fee. Up to this point then, I had been at a loss as to how I could give her extra sessions when she needed them.

As I continued to look at the book, I was struck with a strong desire to have a copy. Please note, I have purchased many books on things such as money management, debt, and wealth but have never had even a passing interest in something as mathematically technical as this book. Amazingly, in this moment, I felt no intimidation. Instead, I felt a curiosity as to how different forms of investment are assigned values.

We continued to talk, and as we did, my client shared with me that she actually had a second copy. Impulsively, I asked if I could buy it from her. In the next moment though, I paused to consider the ethics of what I had just proposed. Then, after thinking about it for a moment, it occurred to me to ask her how much the book was worth.

She told me. I then converted the book's value into the value of my time. Finally, I made my offer. I told her that if she wanted, she could come in for an extra session for which she could pay me half my usual fee, using her extra book as the other half.

My thoughts were this. If we did it this way, neither the session nor the book would be free. She would get the discounted session, and I would get a modified form of payment which would mutually benefit both of us. Even to the point of my being better able to help her study.

This time, my client accepted my offer for help. More important though, this experience has now become my reference picture for a consciously connected business deal. How nice that I also had fun doing it and we both ended up happy.

"How Spending More Can Be Spending Less" - Ed's Fifth Emergence

The following Saturday (now, seven days later), I applied online to refinance my college loans. Now before I go further, I have to tell you, I have never been able to picture the interest on loans beyond what I needed to keep them from going into default. Thus, as with most of my bills, I dealt with these bills when I saw an envelope of an unusual color, the kind which means I am out of warnings.

What made me notice this loan? I had received a letter from Sallie Mae detailing an eminent rise in interest rates. In effect, this letter was urging me to get my loans locked in at a low rate before the interest increased.

As a side note, a couple of weeks prior, it emerged in me that "interest' is the monetary value lenders place on the time for which I hold a loan. In other words, "interest" is how I pay for this time. In truth, I don't even know what makes interest rates fluctuate, maybe the abundance of liquid capital, but I'm going to find out. In any event, having looked up the payoff amounts on my loans, I realized I did not want to spend a penny more on interest than I had to. I applied.

So this is how I figured it all out before I applied. To begin with, the interest rate on my first two loans has been 3.350%. The interest rate on my third loan has been 3.125%. My monthly payment has been $120.00, due on the 22nd of each month. More over, up to this point, most of the payment has been going toward the interest.

After I applied, I went to the web site to check the numbers and found that my application had been approved, meaning my loans had been refinanced at the "lower than if I waited" rate. Thus, with the July increase in interest rates, my interest rates would have gone up to over 6 percent. But because I refinanced, the interest rate will only go up to 4.250%.

What I also realized was that by refinancing my loan, my lender will collect more interest from me during the course of this loan. Even so, I consciously chose this opportunity so as to get more out of my monthly payment. By this, I mean, although I could have reduced my monthly payment to the minimum required; $70.00; I chose to keep paying the higher amount; $120.00. Why? Because by maintaining the larger payment, I will be paying off the loan faster and in doing so, pay less interest.

In the past, I would have focused on that I was paying only $70.00 a month. Of course, in doing this, I would have been looking only at how much money I was saving and not on how much this money was costing me.

My whole point is, prior to this emergence, I would have never seen this. Why? Because I had previously been unable to picture the effect time has on money. Now, I can picture this effect. This means that rather than how I previously felt; afraid to know these numbers; I now feel excited to know these numbers, as they tell me where my money is and where it will go. I can also consciously choose how to manage my debt. And enjoy doing it.

When I finished, I went back online to look at the patterns of how I've earned and spent money over the past two months. Netta has been home with the baby and so, I've been supporting the three of us. One number which caught my eye was the amount I had spent in May on groceries; $850.22. When I saw this number, I went felt myself go into shock and couldn't believe how much I had spent.

What amazed me was, prior to this, my fear about spending a large sum of money made me spend more frequently but in smaller amounts. For example, I would go the store two or three times a week and spend an average of $30 to $80 a visit. Do that ten or twelve times and you spend a heck of a lot of money, not to mention the extra time spent on each trip.

I decided then that I would make two trips a month to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's and spend about $300 to $375 each time.

The next morning Netta, Hawken, and I went out for breakfast and to go food shopping. We stuffed the basket full of groceries and for the first time in my life, I made a big purchase (over $100) without the fear that I was spending too much. I can, in fact, picture this moment as I write and can see the cashier, the register, Netta, and Hawken. I can even feel my wallet in my hand and my eagerness to see the final number. I can also feel the joy of knowing that I'm being more conscious, and "smarter," with my money.

Another example of how spending more can be spending less.

Connecting Money to Food - Ed's Sixth Emergence

Recently, I realized that there was a connection between how I used to spend money and how I eat.

A few years ago, every time I pictured money, I felt an element of fear. Not having alternate pictures to work with, I would become unable to spend money which would lead to a period of compulsive spending. This would continue until checks would bounce, at which point, I would be unable to spend money again. In reality, my ability to spend money was based mostly on how much fear I felt; if I was afraid, I'd spend nothing, which would put me into shock. Then, in shock, I'd feel no fear and over spend.

How does this connect to food? A week ago I realized that I've been eating food the same way I used to spend money. Fearing that I'll get fat, I put off eating for as long as I can. Eventually, when I get hungry enough, I go into shock. Once I'm in shock, I lose my ability to picture myself, both my hunger and my food. This results in my eating until I feel stuffed. At which point I come out of shock and put off eating once again.

I see this as being true to the Emergence Principle; that we are drawn to where we are wounded. I have many wounds in and around eating. I also have wounds in and around feeling fat. This means, I, in some unconscious way, would behave in a way which would provoke both these feelings in me. First I would restrict my eating. Then I would eat until I was stuffed and felt fat. Then I would swing in the other direction and restrict my eating again.

Like my spending habits, my eating habits have been mostly chaotic and unpredictable. Further, I rarely knew when I would eat or not eat. Or how much I would eat. Why? Because I a sense of neither time nor numbers as they related to my eating.

Consciously Experiencing Calories as Number - Ed's Seventh Emergence

Lately I have been exploring my awareness of time, and how the caloric value of food affects my ability to experience my body and food. To do this, I have been using the numbers involved. To wit, I have been looking at how my ability to picture the numbers I use in time and energy affects my ability to picture eating and feeling fit.

Recently, I began to follow a way of eating many athletes use, wherein they eat smaller meals more frequently. Usually, they eat about 300 calories a day, five times a day.

Three days ago I began following this plan and found it made a great difference. To begin with, I was surprised at how much food these numbers represent. At first, I was afraid that I would still be hungry.

Just now, I made a connection to the conversation that Steve and I had earlier this week. On day three of a ten day fast, he told me, as he sat across from a plate of my food, that he was happy to be hungry.

I could not picture that.

Now, as I sit here hungry and writing this, I realize I feel happy to be hungry. I feel like I am burning clean. How different this feels from eating until I am stuffed. More over, I can see how, when I am conscious, I can picture eating again, and that this vision of my eating in the future changes the experience of being both hungry and being satisfied.

I realize still have a lot of consciousness to reclaim when it comes to eating. But I now can see the beauty in the structure the numbers create and can use these numbers to create a space wherein I can explore food and eating effectively. For example, for the first time, I experienced the difference between eating pasta and eating fish consciously. I felt like I could not eat enough pasta and had to force myself to stop. Further, when I finished, I immediately found myself looking for sweets.

On the other hand, when I ate the fish, it left me feeling full. more over, this happened with much less volume.

In general, I feel more fit and less fearful about getting fat. In addition, I can see in this a thread of similarity to my emergences with loans and interest; because I am eating more frequently, I end up eating less.

Doing the Survey with My Father - Ed's Eight Emergence

The final experience I want to share with you occurred today (now, a month later). Let me start by telling you that the emergence which happened during this experience was the least expected and even now, fills my heart with great joy. It involves my father, historically a cynic of all things psychological.

For years, my father has told people that I do psychology, this despite my efforts to convince him otherwise. A couple of days ago, he told me a story wherein he told a man he respects that I do psychology. He told me he had felt surprised, and somewhat flattered, when the man responded by telling my father that he, himself, would make a good psychologist.

I told him that contrary to what he might think that, unless I am doing it by mistake, that I don't use psychology to help my clients very often, and that I feel a lot of what psychology offers is flawed.

He laughingly agreed.

I went on to tell him that I agreed with the man, that he would do well helping people as he has the ability to connect with people in all walks of life. I also told him that his ability to respect all people would probably make him good at working with people.

I went on to tell him that I practice something called Emergence, and that I have a survey about numbers that I could do with him to give him a taste of what Emergence was. Politely, he said that maybe we could do it on Friday.

Well, on Friday, he and I did the survey. I have to say, this experience turned out to be one of the best experiences I've ever had with my father. Oddly, it involved a conversation about numbers; historically a place in which both my father and I disconnect.

I have to admit it was not easy to begin. I had to let go of my crushing need to prove to my father the worth of my work. Even so, I pushed my way past our mutual doubt and focused, instead, on our mutual willingness to try. As I write this, I recall how, as a 24 year old cynic I had once tried to expose someone as a fraud. When all was said and done though, I ended up seeing my father for the first time, and apprenticing himself to the fraud. Of course you know who the "fraud" was. You!

We began the survey. When we were done, I found myself admiring my father's ability to picture numbers. (I realize as I write this that he wasn't the only cynic. He was just the one who was being blamed for being cynical. This feels wonderfully humbling to see.)

So how did it go? At first, my father did very well. He had no trouble picturing the number one. When he came to the number two how ever, he faltered, so much so, in fact, that a moment later, I used this difference to create a reference experience in him.

I did this by pointing out how different these two experiences were. Right away, he admitted that he had, indeed, struggled to describe t o me what he saw about drawing "twos." He actually seemed to be at a loss for words. So I began to describe how I pictured writing a two; "I begin at the upper-left, then I draw an arc towards the ... .

At this point, he exclaimed, that's it. An "arc." Then he proceeded to describe writing a number two. But when I asked him to draw a two in a different style, he surprised me by describing a Roman numeral two.

To me, this meant he was working around his blocked ability to picture writing twos. Even so, I did not point it out and instead let it be.

We then moved on to the number three.

Here he had a similar experience but this time, he saw his difficulty. Again, his second style was a Roman numeral. At this point, my father's cynicism seemed gone. It also seemed to have been replaced by intrigue. [note: this "intrigue" is the proof of the emergence.]

We then moved on to the number four, and as he breezed through two styles, he began to notice how different this felt. Basically, then, this pattern with straight line numbers repeated all through the test. similarly with the pattern of his difficulty drawing curves. To wit, the more curves there were in a number, the more challenged he felt to come up with a second style. In other words, he had no trouble drawing the " ones," "fours," and "sevens." He drew these solidly. "Twos," "threes," "fives," "nines," and "tens" however were challenging, albeit, less and less challenging as we went along.

This pattern; the difference between straight lines and curved lines; held throughout the survey with one exception. I can picture my father's delight when he got to the number "eight."

Interestingly, during the test, I had somehow skipped this number and had gone from seven to nine; that is, until he pointed out that I skipped the "eight." (What had happened was, the first time through, I had written his responses to the number "seven" in the number "eight" spot, making it look like I had already asked him the sevens.)

After pointing out that I had skipped the number "eight," my father said, " That 's easy. You just draw a snowman with a big circle on the bottom, and a smaller circle on the top! In fact, I can picture him telling me this as I write and can easily see how conscious he was.

I can also see how obvious it had been that he had been waiting to share this number with me and how his later error heightened the contrast enough for me to help him see the difference. Even so, I also saw that part of his block was still there in that he reverted to Roman numeral VIII.

We finished the survey. He admitted to being surprised that he could not describe the number two, but he could not see being pleasantly surprised. We then talked for nearly an hour after the survey and that 's when things really began to emerge for my father.

He admitted that when he heard me say arc, it allowed him to describe the other soft-numbers. I asked him to look into the experience of connecting the word "arc" to the picture of one and see if he was surprised at how that word worked.

He looked and was surprised to find, he was surprised; pleasantly, he admitted. He then asked me if this was what I did with my clients.

I said, "Yes. Kind of fun, isn't it?"

He said admiringly, "Yeah it is. And you get paid for this?"

I laughed and said, "I do. And well." We then talked more about the snowman "8" and I pointed out how alive it was for him, along with the relevance that having a story, a picture, and a connection has for being conscious of a number.

My father could see the difference. He was, in fact, surprised to hear that other people had difficulty with this number. And as we spoke, I pictured sitting with my father as a little boy, talking with him about his snowman eight and how proud he felt of his ability to make one.

I also saw how he struggled when he didn't get the other numbers, and I could see his pain at not being better at math.

I then showed him how a three was the right half of a snowman.

He laughed and drew the other half and made another snowman. He then went and timidly drew a cursive three, two times, making a figure eight-style eight.

He had never realized he had been uncomfortable with the cursive numbers.

We then spoke at length about Roman Numerals. He showed me that "C" was the letter for 100, drawing a C, pointing to it, and laughingly saying, "Can you see a hundred?"

I pointed out how this and the snowman eight were the two numbers we discussed that he had the strongest ability to picture and that this meant he had the strongest connection to these two numbers.

I then wrote the numbers 265 and 810 and then asked him to determine twenty percent of each.

He did and I asked him which number was easier to work with.

I pointed to 810. He agreed and was surprised that I could know that.

I told him, I just went with the numbers I knew he was able to picture.

He appeared even more intrigued.

We talked for awhile more and then he had to go. As he got up, he asked what any of this had to do with math.

He said that to him, math was addition, subtraction, multiplication, trigonometry, algebra, etc.

I replied by asking, "How can you solve any math problem if you can't see the numbers you're working with?"

He paused and said, "Yea, if you need twelve feet of wood but can't see twelve, you'll guess at how much you'll need."

We hugged. Then Hawken (Ed's two month old son) burped. Then we laughed and joked some more and then said good-bye. Afterwards, I realized that I had finally gotten to show my Dad what it is I do. Un addition, we both got to heal some of our blocks in and around numbers. In fact, I now feel as if I know my father in ways I never imagined before. And to think, a conversation about picturing numbers was what brought all this about.

It's now 2:30 AM, and although I still feel like writing more, I also realize I'm running on empty. So at this point, I will close by saying that I enjoyed writing about these experiences as much as I enjoyed having them in the first place.

I hope you enjoyed reading about them.