Spiritual Networks

The Seven Challenges that Transform Your Life


Feeling the Power is the key to a life well lived! The value of every moment of every day is known in the feeling of that moment. The relative balance of pleasure and pain tells me how things are going. The challenge is staying present to my feelings. They just show up, unexpected and unpredictable. If I’m willing to listen to and learn from the feelings of the moment, I am actively engaged in my own emotional development. Emotional wisdom builds as I learn how to let my feelings inform my choices so that pleasure lasts and pain passes. I get increasingly clear about what is working for me – and what is not. As I learn to make better choices my life continues to get better in the ways that matter to me. I steadily cultivate the power that enables me to complete my life purpose.

Feeling the Power is the key to satisfying relationships! Feelings focus my awareness on what’s valuable between myself and another at any given moment. Understanding my feelings tells me how to identify myself and stay connected with the other. To whatever extent I am cut off from or confused by my feelings, I am disconnected from the other. Alienation from my feelings means isolation in the world.

Feeling the Power is the key to living with an abundance of energy! Unfelt feelings weigh me down and disempower me. I get stuck wasting energy holding back the energy I have. The past is present until I feel the truth of it. As I learn to trust my feelings, the energy within me flows freely, and is easily guided by my choices. I experience my power when I’m aware of what I’m feeling as an opportunity for choice.

Feeling the Power provides an unprecedented map to feelings and their relational meanings. The developmental path is laid out in an easily understandable and personally challenging way. It is the road to clarity about experiences of connection and disconnection in life. Experiences of connection are organized into seven psychospiritual themes. These are the Seven Challenges: each is a cycle in which the wheel of life is allowed to flow freely through the ups and downs of pleasure and pain. The dynamics of each Challenge provide a lens for understanding my feelings and optimizing my relational power at any given moment.

The Challenges are Trust, Faith, Dignity, Mutuality, Creativity, Intimacy, and Community. Each builds on its predecessors. All are vital to emotional and relational maturity.

  • Trust is the foundational safety which opens awareness to noticing the pleasure lasting and the pain passing.
  • Faith is learning to belong with whatever or whoever helps the pleasure to last and the pain to pass.
  • Dignity means letting choices be guided by the eventual pleasure and pain in their consequences.
  • Mutuality is sharing with others the power to increase the pleasure and decrease the pain for all those in agreement with any given choice.
  • Creativity means claiming a place in the cycle of renewal where pain signals what is passing to make way for the pleasure of something wonderfully new.
  • Intimacy is the discovery of the paradoxical pleasure where vulnerability to pain draws one close to another.
  • Community means awakening to experiencing the pleasure and pain of the whole world happening inside oneself.

Each Challenge has four primary feelings, representing receptive and expressive pleasure, and receptive and expressive pain. Grounding myself in the feelings of one Challenge prepares me to stretch into the next.

The entire model of Feeling the Power is the fruit of my own personal and professional experience. That’s why I’m writing in the first person. For over thirty years I have observed, journalled, and reflected upon my experiences with my wife and daughter, my family and friends, my psychotherapy clients, my students training for ministry or psychotherapy. Feeling the Power has evolved from my need to make sense of my life with all these significant others. I needed to continue deepening my understanding about what was happening within and between myself and each other about whom I have cared so deeply. I have been determined to empower better and better choices on the road of loving myself and others.

Feeling the Power is the map of my journey through life. All the experiences that happen along the way are simply mine. The way of understanding these experiences is simply mine. I am telling you how I am who I am. In so doing I am simply offering you a mirror. It’s up to you to determine how you see yourself. It’s your challenge to understand your path. You are surely like me and different in endless ways. In order to support your self-discovery I have included self-reflection exercises throughout the book. Feeling the Power is the process by which you do the work to clarify your picture of yourself and your place in the world. What you feel is the value of your life. What you feel empowers you to increase the value of your life. It’s worth a little work!

Feeling the Power is a grounded psychospiritual journey. Integrated throughout the discussion of each Challenge are insights derived from Christianity, Buddhism, Yoga, and Tai Chi. Also woven in are key threads from numerous psychological theories, including existential humanistic, Jungian, cognitive behavioral, developmental, and psychoanalytic. What you get is my digestion and metabolism of all that’s ever fed me. I offer it to you as bread for the journey. Each chapter concludes with an exploration of the spirituality implicit in the Challenge that has been addressed.

Following the discussion of spirituality, a series of exercises entitled Emotional Discipline is offered. These provide a practical method for engaging with each challenge, and thereby intentionally moving yourself along the journey that is a full life.

The search for a worthwhile life is the process of learning from experience.
Feeling the Power makes this journey conscious.

“As I learn to let pain pass and to allow pleasure to last,
the meaning of my life in relationship to others emerges,
and I discover myself on a spiritual path,
living the one life that is all.”

Allan Schnarr, M.Div.,Ph.D.