What’s your strategy when you’re feeling: Stressed? Worried? Overwhelmed? Anxious?
In the past, I distracted myself by keeping super busy. This didn’t require much effort as I was naturally already busy with two daughters, three dogs, a part-time job, a husband, and a house. I also volunteered and made dinner most nights.
Dinner time reminds me of another strategy I often utilized. Wine. I even had one of those cute wooden “It’s Wine O’Clock” signs hanging on a nail in my kitchen just in case I forgot to pour a glass. I wouldn’t get drunk - just a little less connected to what was bothering me.
What I didn’t know then that I do now is that our emotions, even those we relate to the negativity in our lives, are our allies - our friends. Through transformation coaching, I’ve learned that our emotions are an internal guidance system - a sort of doorway into our soul - letting us know moment-by-moment how closely aligned we are with who we really are - our true self.
And just like we wouldn’t ignore a good friend who’s feeling badly, we shouldn’t ignore, numb, or bury our bad-feeling emotions.
Our emotions are trying to tell us something. We need to notice them and take time to experience them - at least long enough to hear what they have to tell us.
And then we get to let them go.
Yeah. I know. That last step falls into the “easier said than done” category. It’s a process. I know from personal experience. But I also know that all you have to do is start.
Keep reading to gain a baseline understanding of emotions and learn the six steps that will lead you to appreciating (and maybe even becoming friends with) your discomforting emotions.
A Transformation Coaching Primer on Emotions
The metaphor of an iceberg is helpful in explaining why sometimes we experience good-feeling emotions and at other times, the ones we like….less.
The part of the iceberg jutting out of the water represents our emotions, our feelings; they’re usually obvious, and we’re able to readily sense them. For example, if we’re annoyed or hurt, we can readily recognize these feelings and can easily name them as “annoyed” or “hurt”.
The point at which the submerged ice breaks the water’s surface is a little less noticeable. In transformation coaching, our “needs” correlate to this “underwater to surface” breaking point. In other words, below each emotion is a need that is either being met or unmet.
If the underlying need is being met, we experience a good-feeling emotion. For example, if you’re someone who needs positive reinforcement at work - especially enjoying being acknowledged in front of your peers - , and your supervisor mentions at the weekly staff meeting your exemplary sales presentation earlier that day, you’re going to experience a good-feeling emotion; e.g. you’ll feel pride, satisfaction, or accomplishment and appreciation for your supervisor.
In contrast, if this underlying need isn’t met and the staff meeting transpires with no mention of your worthy effort, you’re going to experience a bad-feeling emotion; e.g. you’ll feel disappointment, frustration, annoyance, or hurt.
OK. You’re ready. The first few times you follow these 6 steps, allow at least 3-5 minutes.
Step 1: Commit to Change
Decide now that the next time you become aware of a discomforting feeling, you’re not going to ignore, numb, or bury it.
State your intention now.
Say, out loud or in your head:
“Next time I notice a discomforting feeling, I’m going to pay attention to it”.
Step 2: Acknowledge and Name
OK. So your supervisor, partner, or friend, has pushed one of your emotional buttons, and you begin to notice that you’re feeling…..(fill in the blank) ..e.g. anxiety, stress, frustration.
Acknowledge it; literally say “hello” to it,
In your mind or out loud, say “Hello…. Anxiety/Stress/Frustration”.
Naming your feeling has turned it into an emotion.
By naming your emotion, you’re acknowledging that it isn’t you.
This is huge!
Step 3: Connect and Allow
Returning to the premise of the post, you’ve begun to befriend your feeling by greeting it by its name.
Now it’s time to further the friendship and get to know the feeling by inviting it in and asking it to take a seat (or at least have it join you in the hallway).
Close your eyes.
Take a few deep, slow breaths.
Connect with the emotion by noticing where in your body you are feeling it.
Take a few more deep, slow breaths and allow the emotion to be experienced.
With an awareness of where in your body you are feeling it, describe the feeling with one or two adjectives. Share your observations internally or out loud.
For example, say “I feel you, Anxiety, in my chest. You feel tight and ragged”.
Step 4: Question and Learn
Continue breathing in and out with your eyes closed.
Like a good friend, show interest in the emotion you are experiencing by asking it what it has to say. Be sincere. Ask with an expectation that you have something to learn.
For example, say “As I notice you feeling tight and ragged in my chest, what is it you’d like to tell me? What do you want me to know?”
Be patient. Continuing breathing. Your inner wisdom will arise and provide you with a response.
Whatever comes into your mind is your answer. It may be an image. Or a color. Or a scene.
If you’re coming up blank, no worries. Just breathe and give it some time.
If you’re new at this “connecting to your inner wisdom” thing, no worries.
Even with no clear response, taking the time to connect with your emotions is SO BENEFICIAL.
Step 5: Appreciate
When you feel ready to move on with this process, welcome the idea that your emotions are your allies, your friends.
I don’t write these words without feeling the weight and the personal history behind them.
Over my lifetime, I have been in a near constant state of trying to either ignore, bury, overcome, or understand my emotions.
It is only in the last several years, as I’ve allowed myself to truly let go of old, limiting beliefs from my mind and their toxic buildup in my physical body, that I have embraced and embodied the wisdom of my life experience. This detox has made room for me to incorporate the teachings of transformation coaching, Abraham Hicks, Dr. Joe Dispenza, Deepak Chopra and many others so that I can comfortably share my insights with you now.
From a place of knowing, I have come to appreciate my emotions, and it is my desire to offer this knowledge to you.
Our emotions comprise an internal guidance system that is telling us, moment by moment, biochemically, neurologically, spiritually, in our bodies, if what we just experienced is a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down”.
In other words, our emotions are feedback. They’re telling us how we’re doing.
So, whatever emotion you just experienced; thank it.
Step 6: Let Go
Again, as we return to the premise of the post, it’s time to walk your emotions to the metaphorical door and let them go.
You can do this with your eyes open or closed. You can do this standing or seated. You can do this in your head or out loud.
Say “Goodbye”, smile, envision a breeze blowing it outside, and close the door.
Though, naturally, we often want to ignore our bad-feeling emotions, this only makes it easier for them to consume us. By naming and befriending our bad-feeling emotions we are better able to recognize them and accept them, before letting them go.
Next time you feel overwhelmed with an emotion that makes you feel not-so-great, remember to sit down and take the time to get to know the feeling by following the 6 steps in this post. Let me know what happens the next time you try this! I love hearing from you.