Many of the issues my clients want coaching on are the result of not being able to allow in and feel emotions all the way through. Instead they are reacting, avoiding, and dulling emotions which, in turn, cause huge problems in their lives. So, this begs the question, “how do we feel our emotions?” I have documented the process I go through and I wanted to share with it with all of you. Please note that this isn’t meant to be a checklist that goes in a specific order but rather a guide to work from and make your own.
When a negative feeling comes over me this is what I do. Instead of overeating, yelling at my kids, or grabbing a cocktail…..
HOW TO FEEL
1). Name the feeling
-Find ONE word to name the emotion as closely as you can to what you think it feels like (i.e. worry, anger, sadness). If you struggle with this, it can help to print out an emotions wheel to help you find it
2). Find the feeling in your body
-Look for the vibration. Where is it centered? Where does it live? In our chest, our stomach?
3). Shoulders back and relax into the feeling
-Often times our natural reaction is to tense up when we feel a negative emotion, so take a deep breath, shoulders back, open up or relax into the feeling. Relax your muscles, make room for it
4). Describe the feeling
-Ask yourself, what does this feel like in my body? Is the sensation tight? Restrictive? Is it light? Pretend you are describing it to someone who has never felt an emotion, E.T. or a robot for example. How would you explain the feeling of stress to them?
5). Animate it/Picture it
-Close your eyes for a second and see if you can give your emotion an animated form. Does it have sharp edges? Is it blob like? Big? Small? Cute alien like creatures come to my mind, so have fun with this part, what do your emotions look like/what form do they take on?
6). Thoughts cause feelings (People or circumstances never do)
-Remind yourself that you are feeling this way because of one sentence in your mind about a situation. After you go through this, you can find the sentence and do thought work. But for now, just feel it
7). Allow it until it dissipates
-Instead of being in a rush for it go away, give the feeling space to be there and do the above steps. Eventually, the negative feeling will subside. Keep in mind, however, that sometimes it comes back up and if you are willing to be with it, it comes back down. I think of waves in the ocean. They rise and fall until they are calm again when it meets sand.
Feelings are meant to be felt. The resistance to them is what causes a lot of pressure in our lives. The next time you feel a negative feeling, pull this list out and see if you can feel your feelings all the way through without reacting, dulling, and avoiding. It can change your life and lessen your need to turn to something external, and often with negative results, to deal with it. The next time you are upset and you go to grab a snack or a drink, put it down and try this instead.
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