The 40-day miracle technique
I give credit to Melody Beattie’s 40 day miracle creation method for its tremendous impact on my life. I have modified and tested it to fit my own needs and found it amazingly effective and powerful. Test it yourself and adopt it to your own situation and circumstances. I promise you won’t be disappointed. There are seven steps:
Step 1: Commit to the process for at least 40 days.
Write down the starting and end dates on your journal, diary or calendar. Time is a crucial factor for many of the techniques I teach in WriteTech. This technique I’ll teach you below needs at least 40 days.
Whether you sense that things are progressing or nothing seems to be happening at all and the 40 days are up, I encourage you to continue. You can never expect when the breakthrough you are looking for will come; it could come before the 40th day or sometime after. Even if you keep writing well past the 40th day, you’ll reap many benefits by using the technique I describe here. The best and most important benefit is that it will help you see all the good things in your life and be truly grateful for each and every one of them.
Step 2: Answer this question, “what do you want?”
I’m fairly certain that by now, you already recognize the amazing power of writing. Unleashing that power is a matter of involving all your senses, as well as your imagination, and even your inner voices as you write.
The Bible records Jesus Christ as asking more than 173 questions, which can be reduced to 7 essential ones. There is one question that shows up in seven verses in the Bible and it is the one question Jesus asked more than any other:
“What do you want?”
A variation of this question is “what do you want me to do for you?” Regardless of your faith, whether you believe in a higher power, God or the Universe, or whether you simply believe in yourself, I believe asking these questions to yourself and answering them can, literally, transform your life. Jesus here is a symbol of the highest possibilities of ourselves, our highest potentialities asking us, “what do you want?” “what do you need?”, “what are you looking for?”
If no one, not even yourself, has asked this question of you before, I urge you to ask it now and to really think about your answer. Be specific in what you ask for. Write your request down. Even if the answer is obvious (“I need a job!” or “I want to get well!”), write it down anyway. Often, you will find that the very act of writing down your request awakens your faith and signifies your belief that it will be granted. Whether the request is personal, and even selfish in nature, ask it. If there are several things you want, ask for those too. And if you don’t know exactly what you want, only that you want things to get better, that’s fine, ask for that. When you become clearer on what you want, you can refine your questions. And as with everything in this book, write it down, write it all down.
Step 3: Each morning or night, list what you are grateful for.
This step lies at the core of the 40-day miracle technique. It is what makes this technique work. On your journal or blank document if you’re using a word processor, write or type on top of the page, “today I am grateful for/that”. Or if you prefer, you can also write, “Thank you for/that” and then write your list.
No doubt you’ve read about keeping gratitude lists, about writing down every night five or ten things you’re grateful for in your life. Counting blessings is good. And you should definitely write down the things you’re grateful for in your list.
This step, however, goes beyond listing our blessings or writing only about what is good or favorable in our lives. You must also write about the people, events, things and circumstances as well as any associated feelings that you are least grateful for.
This includes any negative emotions that you are trying to suppress but just can’t, or which you are experiencing guilt over for feeling, or which you are trying hard to resist and change. It can also include anything happening in your life or world that has upset, angered, or offended you, which has upset your peace of mind, or which you simply don’t like. If anything comes up that you judge as bad or negative, include that in your list as well. Don’t edit or censor yourself. Write on your list exactly how you this thing makes you feel. Don’t force yourself to be grateful for anything either if you are not ready to do so.
I can almost hear you saying, “What? You mean I should be grateful for the bad stuff happening in my life, things that make me feel bad and downright ungrateful and actually write them down?” Please hear me out.
People or organizations that have hurt or offended us, or circumstances that have happened to us that we deem unfair or unjust, and which create resentment in us are the perfect things to include on your list. Resentment, and its correlates, anger, rage, bitterness, jealousy, and hatred could be the very emotions that are blocking and preventing your good, the miracle that you’ve been asking for, from coming to you and you receiving it. By writing them down, you allow yourself to release these stuck emotions and clear the way for you to begin experiencing the good, positive emotions that you desire to have.
For you, there really might be occasions, events, circumstances of situations for which it would be inappropriate or wrong to feel gratitude. Some things are truly off-limits. For instance, it would inappropriate and downright wrong to feel grateful for the death of a loved one or for having a serious or terminal illness and to write, “I’m thankful for that”. If you believe in God or a higher power, it will just be wrong and taking their name in vain to thank them for an unfortunate event like the death of a child. I believe, though, that any situation, no matter how seemingly bad or unfortunate on the surface, carries the seed of something good.
Good can be born even from the most serious misfortunes. And you can always find another way to approach these bad or unfortunate events. You could write that you’re grateful for what your loved one who has passed away means to you, how much you miss them, and how you wish you could change certain things that happened between you and them. Instead of writing “I’m grateful to have learned that I have a serious illness”, you could write, “I’m grateful that help is on the way” or “I’m thankful for the day when I am well again”. Instead of being grateful that you have no job and no money, or are alone, you could give thanks that the right job, the money, or the right person is on the way. Instead of focusing on your current situation, you could always look toward the good that you hope will come, and write how grateful you are for that.
In your list, you can include a list of things that you desire to get or events that you would like to happen or outcomes you would like to achieve in the future, and be grateful for them in advance. If you don’t know what to do next regarding a situation, circumstance, event or relationship, and are feeling confused and in need of guidance (like I was when I first did this technique) or are feeling stuck in your life, then you could list down exactly what you need right now and write that you’re thankful that you will receive what you need or have asked for. Don’t hesitate or be scared to ask for what you really want. While you’re already asking, you might as well ask big.
Step 4: For each item on your list, briefly state why you are grateful for it.
You can write speculatively, such as, “I’m grateful that this event has happened” or “I’m grateful I’ve received this thing because I believe it will allow this other event to happen or for me to receive this other thing”.
Step 5: List down the people you resent, who have wronged or offended you and who you can’t forgive or haven’t forgiven.
This follows-on from Step 3, but is the second most important step and deserves a paragraph of its own.
I wrote above how resentment and its correlates anger, bitterness, rage, hatred, are debilitating and, ultimately, destructive emotions. They will block the good that you sometimes so desperately seek, from coming to you. Melody Beattie in Miracles expressed it best when she wrote: “Having a heart blocked with resentments is the number one barrier, according to many experts, to achieving what we want in life, to manifesting our goals, and to experiencing joy.”
I know that forgiving someone who has really hurt you is easier said than done. But make no mistake: ultimately you must forgive everyone. Universal law mandates that we must forgive if we want to be forgiven.
Fortunately, through your writing, there are two ways that you can begin to forgive someone even if every cell in your body screams “never!” I believe this is one of the most sublimely miraculous attributes of writing — its healing ability.
The first way is to include the way you exactly feel toward these people, organizations, institutions, corporations, events and circumstances on your gratitude list. At this stage, you don’t even have to feel any inclination toward forgiving this person or entity; following step 5, just write, “today, I am grateful for the anger, hurt, bitterness or resentment that I feel toward this person (or entity)”. Then, following step 6, write a brief description of why you feel this way toward this person or entity.
If you wish, you can also describe anything positive at all that has come from your resentment or anger; anything positive will do (for example, “I am grateful that I am so angry at this person that I now no longer talk to them and have stopped communicating with them; I get so upset whenever I see them, at least now, I don’t have to be as upset because I’m no longer in contact with them”). You can even write, “I’m grateful that I can’t forgive this person at this stage because I need time to process and think about what has happened.”
In the coming days, you might notice the pattern of your writing start to change. For instance, you might start writing, “Even though I still feel betrayed and hurt by what this person has done, still I’m grateful that at one point in my life, we did share some good times” or you might write “I’m still grateful that this person was able to help me in some specific way”. You’ll also begin to notice that accompanying this shift in your writing is a perceptible releasing of your negative feelings; it doesn’t feel as bad anymore when you write about this person or entity. Just allow this gradual shifting in your writing to continue. Then when you are ready, try the second way: actually write, “today, I am grateful that I am ready to forgive this person and move on with my life,” or you could even write, “today I am grateful that I have forgiven this person.”
You don’t even have to actually feel genuine gratitude at this point for what you’re writing. Recall that writing is a psychoneuromotor activity. This means that merely performing the physical act of writing can direct your thoughts and consequently unlock your feelings. What is important is that you have begun to release the poisonous build-up of negative feelings within you. If you keep writing in this way, I promise you that genuine forgiveness will eventually come. It may take a while, but your heart will one day be free.
Jonathan Temporal is an author, lawyer, university lecturer and Aikido teacher. The preceding blog was partly excerpted from his book WriteTech: How to harness the power of writing to achieve audacious goals, solve any problem, and radically re-engineer your life.
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