Grief, sadness, anxiety and anger often feels like getting caught unexpectedly by a wave in the ocean; it crashes over you, pulls you under, turns you around, and leaves you just as suddenly as it arrived while you gasp, sputter, and seek solid ground. These feelings are so strong, they can rob you of hope for ever feeling joy again.
The emotions aren't what you think.
We are never upset, afraid, depressed, worried, anxious, sad, or angry for solely the reason you think. We all have moments throughout our life that were so painful, we didn't fully process in order to heal. To do so would have been too hard, too painful in the moment so we chose survival instead, burying the pain just under the surface, choosing to fake it till we make it.
We create layers where the hard stuff gets buried because we know it works. Kind of. The pain is still there, under the surface, creating a low grade friction that is irritated every time we re-experience those emotions with a new situation. The emotions are more intense because of that friction.
There are layers within us longing to be harmonized. Think of the buried emotions like a piano key out of tune. Every time that key is struck, we know somethings off. It's a constant reminder that we're not okay. For some, they adopt a belief that they are broken.
Try tuning into your emotions with these simple steps:
- Notice how you feel in the moment you are triggered. Do you feel angry, sad, frustrated, tired, anxious, something else, a combination? If there's more than one, choose the strongest emotion and say out loud, "I feel ___." pause for one breath and notice how you feel and if any stories begin to come up. Then repeat the process until the feeling shifts or a story comes up.
- If another feeling comes up, repeat #2. If a story comes up, sit with that story as if you are watching a movie of the story. Of the people involved, were they doing the best they could in the moment with the tools, skills, and experiences they have? What do you think they were needing or wanting in the moment and why?
- Ask yourself if there is room for love, even in the pain? Can you bring love to the part of you that was hurt? Can you bring love to the situation? Can you bring love to the part of the person that created pain out of their own fear or hurt?
- Take some conscious breaths while turning inward to your heart and ask, "How do I want to feel now?" Then repeat to yourself out loud, "I am (feeling)." Taking a breath in between saying the statement to just notice how you feel. When the original triggered feeling begins to dissipate, just sit with your breath and the new feeling you identified for a few minutes.
This exercise is simple, yet profound. In its simplicity is some deep work that may be helpful if you have a friend who can process through allowing you to fully be in the moment of the experience. The process is empowering because you you are removing yourself from the victim energy. You are liberating yourself by creating a new story by shifting the perspective. You harmonize the old stories, making space to create healthier beliefs that lead to a more fulfilling and joyful life. That is power.
Wendy Reese is passionate about helping people live their yoga off the mat. If you want more strength, balance, and peace in your health, relationships, work, and daily life, join her free 7 day Living Yoga Off The Mat Challenge. You can register here.