Updated: Jan 3
I am an honest person, and I am sure you are as well. Still, if I am stuck in a place in life that I don't like, and that is not serving me, it is because of lies I have chosen to believe. Two of the most prevalent lies we tell ourselves are about our feelings.
The first is "I'm feeling it; therefore it is real." ( and not just for you but real for everyone). This is a very distorted logic. Feelings are not real "things". You cannot put water in a feeling. You cannot push a feeling up a hill or watch as it rolls down one. Feelings are subjective. They are perceptions. I have burst into tears watching a baby smile. It just fills me up to capacity with emotion and poof, out flow the waterworks. If someone were to label my sentiment from the outward appearance, they might label it as sadness and think I feel sad, they might begin to feel sad too, or anxious, but on the inside, my emotion is joy. We are both in the same experience but experiencing it differently. Who wins?
Some people hardly emote at all, and some experience highly intense emotions. Two women in labour, hooked up to monitors showing their pain peaks as identical may exhibit widely varying degrees of behaviour concerning their "feelings". One woman is observed breathing in, and out methodically while the other yells, writhes, and demands medication. Who wins?
Just because the feelings are perceived or expressed differently doesn't mean that each is not as valid. Your feeling may not be real for me, but it is valid. The person who is joyful, or anxious, or quiet or loud is entitled to feel what and how they feel. The feeling is there sure enough for that person, in their way, at that moment.
The second lie we tell ourselves is that we have no control over our emotions. The truth is: My feelings do not control me, and your emotions do not control me.
People say they can't help how they feel but what distinguishes us from other animals is we can. We have higher faculties like maturity. And imagination.
Advertisers use the latter every day Coca ColaTM and Tim HortonsTM sell nostalgia, NikeTM sells pride and perfume sells sex. None of them sells a product directly; they manipulate our emotion and imagination.
We can get caught in negative loops that carry us away in all kinds of imaginative stories when our emotions are triggered. When someone has said a word we've perceived as unkind or shown a nasty side to us, our body reacts immediately. Start to notice your first response. It's automatic. I have a feeling in my stomach and a tightening in my chest. I didn't always know this. I had to activate my inner observer. We all have a watcher. Right now, take a breath and ask how am I feeling? And pause for a second with your eyes closed. Let an inner set of eyes scan inside and listen for an answer. Ask all other voices in there to hush. Meet your observer.
The way you think you feel needs to be acknowledged. Then, put some breaks on before you go blindly down the imagination highway. You are not in a TV commercial. But, if you aren't careful, you will be selling yourself a fantasy just as surely as those ad campaigns.
Use Your Higher Faculties:
Step 1: Maturity: With maturity, you acknowledge to yourself, "yes, I am feeling something" and go beyond that. I can see that physical cues tell me I'm triggered, so I ask myself: "what am I feeling?"
It might be hurt, anger, betrayal, frustration, sadness. And ask the next question," What do I need at this moment?"
It might be space, clarity, apology, comfort, acknowledged, safety, appreciation. Even if it might be impossible to get any of those in the exact moment, let yourself say it out loud, in your head anyway. Start to learn the skill of identifying and validating what you feel. Start to learn how to meet your needs and de-escalate the intensity so you can remain in the driver's seat. It takes practice but you can utilize your awareness and intellect to remain calmer.
If your feelings are very intense, and you are going to do or say something that will cause harm, maturity allows you to:
1.1. use a coping strategy to de-escalate:
*say I need to take a brief time out
*count the items in the room(in my head)
*do a mudra (this too shall pass)
* breathe in 1,2,3 out 1,2,3,4 5
1.2 do some critical thinking and ask some probing questions of yourself before you run away in a negative fantasy:
*am I reacting based on truth or assumption
*is this about now or the past
* does it serve me to react to this
*could there be another explanation
* can I be misunderstanding
* even if I'm not, do I chose to let this ruin my happiness
Step 2: Imagination: Is this a person or situation that has made a mistake? Ok, so deal with IT. DEAL WITH THE ISOLATED INCIDENT. Don't go down misery lane. Instead, once you have said "I feel" its time to move on.
Put your imagination to work:
1.1 recalling all of the good times together.
* Be Coca ColaTM. Dredge up in your heart centre every corny, kind, sweet memory you have about that person.
*Think of everything they ever did right.
*Remember all the ways they've been helpful and said good things, and gave nice looks.
*Make yourself feel the way you want to feel.
*Visualize it, hear the words, feel the warmth spreading.
*Say to yourself "I am happy and grateful for my beautiful life.
1.2 recall other times you felt happy, loved and compassionate
*if you can't find memories of this person, think of a time from your childhood
* think of a pet you love
* recall a moment of compassion
1.3 imagine sending love from you to the world
*see unconditional love as white light dissolving everything in its path
* see the separation between you and everything else melt away
*see yourself filled with light, you are the light and the light is you
* send the light out into the world and receive the light back
*know that the light is unconditional, love, forgiveness and healing
You can't choose to have an automatic physiological reaction to stress or trigger. But, with practice, you can decrease the severity of the reaction and the duration. You can set the intention to respond with maturity to people, and circumstances in your life. You can determine to use the gifts that God gave you of maturity and intellect to interrupt any negative patterns and improve your control over harmful or destructive emotions.
You can choose how you feel. You can ask smart questions, leave the past in the past, stop making assumptions, release guilt, shame and blame. You can choose love, compassion and healing.
You feel how you choose to feel.
So why not choose to feel happier, healthier and more successful? Why not feel extraordinary?
Learn how to create your own emotional freedom. Contact me and let's talk today.