Feelings, Wo-o-o Feelings

 

Understanding Emotions

First, let’s understand emotions.  Emotions are energy.  The quality of our emotional energy depends on two key questions:  is our emotional energy high or low? For example, would we rather watch television or exercise, would we rather sleep or scream?  In these examples, watching TV and sleeping are examples of low energy.  Exercising and screaming are examples of high energy.

The second area to explore is whether our emotional energy is positive or negative?  We tend to be most comfortable when our energy is high – when we feel like we have the ability to tolerate or be with our emotions, and when our energy is positive – when we are hopeful and encouraged. So, to sort this out further using the examples above, high-positive energy would be exercising, high-negative energy would be screaming, low-positive energy would be peacefully watching television and low-negative energy would be checking-out by sleeping.  The ideal state, in terms of comfort, productivity, and overall health is an emotionally high-positive state.

Know Your Feelings

Our emotions provide a sophisticated alarm system that alerts us to dangers, protect us from loss, and encourage caution and preparation when we encounter the unknown.  Know your feelings and give them the power to serve and protect you.  To intentionally ignore or disregard your feelings is like responding to a fire alarm by saying, “what alarm, there is no alarm going off.”  To ignore our feelings invites disaster.  Know your feelings, make room for them in your life, and listen to what they are saying to you.

Our emotional system is comprised of five primary feelings.  These five categories of feelings are typically at the core of any feeling we experience.

ANGER  is present when we believe we have been wronged by someone or something
SADNESS     stems from loss/change any time something is different than we hoped it would be
FEAR  results when there are unknowns, and “what if’s”
JOY     pure positive energy stemming from a connection to something  meaningful
HURT is a combination of loss and violation

 

Open To Your Feelings

Many people have been conditioned to NOT FEEL.  When asked, how are you feeling, it is common for someone to truly not know.  It is helpful to begin to understand what is reasonable to feel in various situations – for example, when you have been harmed, it is natural to feel anger (if you revisit the guidelines above it is evident that we are being “wronged” when someone harms us, and the natural emotion one would experience is anger), and depending on the type of harm, you may also feel fear if there are unknowns about your future safety. How we feel helps guide us and understand situations in which we find ourselves.

Who we are is a delicate combination of how we feel, what we think and how we behave.  How we feel serves as a very personal, valuable guide in understanding when we need to do something different.  When we touch a hot stove, our physical body responds by sending a message through our bodies to our mind that says – “ouch! That’s hot – don’t touch that again.”  We respond by learning to not touch the hot stove.
Emotionally, we are very much the same.  When we are in a relationship with someone, for example, and we regularly feel unheard, unimportant, not a priority – we are engineered to have feelings about that.  These feelings inform us that we want and deserve better than this.  Once we allow ourselves to become clear about what our feelings are communicating to us, we then have a choice about what we do with those feelings.

So, in the example of feeling unheard, not a priority and unimportant to our partner, we need to examine our options for addressing these issues.  Because we do not have the capacity to change others – only ourselves, the best possible response to any dilemma in which we find ourselves is to ask ourselves this: “how am I participating in NOT getting my needs met?”  We are our own single greatest obstacle to getting our needs met.  This may be unnerving to consider – and yet, when you take as much responsibility as you can, you can begin to see how empowering it is to know that there is something you can do differently to feel heard, to feel important, to feel a priority.  If we can not change others, then our energy is best spent on that which we can change – ourselves!

WE TEACH OTHERS HOW TO TREAT US.  How have you been teaching others to treat you?  Have you tolerated being interrupted by others?  Have you chosen to not speak your mind because you assume no one will listen?  Have you withheld important comments, for fear that they won’t be considered?  There are many ways to consider your own participation in NOT getting your needs met.

Close the Exits

To exercise our emotions we must begin to close the exits such as numbing out with work, drugs, sex, gambling, shopping, etc. pursuing perfection, blaming others – and stay with our feelings, whatever they are. Most of our poor choices stem from an intolerance of our emotional experience. Just like some people have greater tolerances for physical pain, some people also have greater tolerances for emotional pain.   The goal, then, is not so much to rid ourselves of negative emotions, rather to begin tolerating for longer periods at a time without having to distract numb ourselves to our feelings.  Once we can begin to tolerate our feelings for longer periods of time, we are in charge of our feelings, our feelings are not in charge of us.  Sitting with uncomfortable feelings is a skill.  It is something that must be practiced, an ability that must be developed and strengthened, so that we can be with our feelings long enough to learn from them.  Until then, we risk wearing ourselves down and out trying to out run the very feelings that have been designed to serve and protect us.
Accepting Ourselves

“The pain of our perceived flaws compels us to cover them up. When we deny certain aspects of ourselves, we overcompensate by becoming their opposite. Then we create entire personas to prove to ourselves and others that we are not that.”  ~ Debbie Ford

Live Our Truths

“Facing the truth requires that we retain an ongoing openness to the possibility that we may not be seeing ourselves – or others – accurately.”    ~Loehr & Schwartz

Every experience that we have contributes to who we are.  Many of our greatest attributes stem from our most painful experiences.  Someone who was raised in a violent family may grow up, for example, to become a very caring and compassionate person  – dedicated to never being violent or aggressive like they experienced life as a child.   When we are able to make room for the fact that we were once in a violent situation and that has contributed to the kindness and peaceful way of living we experience now, we are at peace with not only the present, but also with the past.  One of the best ways to “get rid of the past” which is a common goal for many, is to simply make peace with the fact that it is a part of you – make room inside yourself for all of the experiences you’ve had because they are staying with or without your permission.

Don’t think about a big, pink elephant.  Are you thinking about a big pink, elephant?  I  don’t want you to visualize a big, pink elephant.  See how putting energy into NOT doing something, brings that something to the forefront of your mind?  If we spend a lot of energy wanting to NOT be something, we essentially become defined by that something that we seek to not be (by making it the center of our decision, so that all other decisions are a product of our efforts to NOT be that something).
Facing the truth is about accepting responsibility.  We can not be responsible (response – able)  if we are not responding to reality.  Being truthful, facing our truth – all of it, keeps us grounded in a reality that has the potential to move us much closer to the greatest possible version of our self.

 

Stay Present in Your Life

Being Present means accepting the moment.  ~ Lunden, Paul & Christensen

Staying present requires personal awareness to the people, places and things that surround us at any given moment.  When we are present, we are able to experience the gifts of life.  We live in the present tense.  We dream in the future tense and we regret in the past tense.  The art of staying present requires that we tend to each precious moment offered to us. Moments such as mine is in writing you now, and yours is in reading these words now – in this moment we are connecting and this is the moment that counts for now.  In a minute, that moment will change and the gifts of each new moment offer a new experience that is to be cherished and appreciated for what it is.

In this sense, I suppose life is but a series of presents.  And if that is so, it makes sense to me that we must open them all, experience what each “present” (moment) has to offer and be grateful for what we are given.  In this moment, I am aware of my health and my abilities (to think, read, type, and communicate), for my good fortune to work with or know you – one of the very many brilliant, creative, unique, funny, interesting, and likable people whom I know, my comfortable home, my healthy adorable children, my loving partner and family, and the fresh air moving through my open window as I type.  These are simply a few of the presents I am aware of in this very moment.  Life is good – in this moment, that moment, and even in the next moment.  I wish you many good presents in life, starting with this one.

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