Feelings are what drive us. Most of the time we do things because of how we think it will make us feel. Whether its buying that new purse, that new car or signing up for a class, we do these things often impulsively because we anticipate a positive emotion at some point during the process. But what do we do when we have a negative emotion comes over us? Anxiety? Fear? Anger? Shame? Rejection? We are not taught how to process these difficult emotions. Why isn’t this a course in grade school? Most of avoid and distract ourselves from them. Take a hot bath, exercise, call someone are common strategies suggested. The problem is you can’t always hop on a treadmill when you are having anxiety about a meeting at work, or take a hot bath when your kids are having a tantrum in the grocery store, so let’s explore our options when negative emotions arise.
Option 1: Resist the emotion. This typically involves pushing it down, pretending it isn’t there, throwing a smile on your face when you are dying inside. Remember what you resist persists, so the emotion is bound to pop back up and sometimes with more intensity.
Option 2: Distract: So many ways to do this now: Hop on Facebook, Twitter, do some online shopping, overeat, overdrink, I could go on, but the emotion lingers and will return once you stop distracting.
Option 3: React to it: Maybe you run all around keyed up/acting it out, thus fueling it. If you are angry you might stomp all around and start to yell.
Option 4: Accept it: This is where I recommend you put your energy. If you can actively accept an emotion, you then have the power to change it. This can be the most helpful option of them all.
You cannot change a feeling you are not willing to feel!
In order to actively accept a negative emotion, start by becoming quiet, tune in to the present moment, what is going on inside your body, and then lean in. It can sound a little scary at first, but this skill can help empower you to no longer fear your feelings. If you can master this, you can even stop fearing fear itself. Here’s a suggestion: if there is pen and paper nearby, start to describe the feeling. Where are you feeling it in your body? Is it fast or slow? Hot or cold, etc. Allow yourself to become immersed in these feelings. As uncomfortable as it may be, sit with it, don’t rush it, and it will pass, I promise.
For any of you who have been following me, or working with me, you know that I teach that our thoughts create our feelings. In turn, our feelings are little windows into what is going on in our minds. Eckhart Tolle says “Now remember that an emotion is the body’s reaction to the mind” If we tune in long enough to the feeling, we will then have access to our mind, and more specifically, the thoughts that have caused this feeling in the first place.
Get quiet, tune in, lean in, sit with those feelings, remind yourself they are just vibrations in the body and witness them dissipate. You then learn that you can be with any negative emotion and nothing can hold you back. Be willing to be uncomfortable and you can learn how to return to feelings of calm if you practice this. More to follow. If you are someone that struggles to manage a negative emotion, please don’t hesitate to contact me for a breakthrough session. Mindyourstrength.com