Catching us off guard and making us say things we don't want to say or do what we don't want to do. Common belief is that things just happen to us...we have no control over life and how we feel - now that's a powerless position to put ourselves in! And a scary one too, never knowing what's around the corner or if we'd be able to handle it.
Can we really control our emotions?
Good news. The answer is YES! How we experience life is much to do with what is going on in our 'control tower' - our brain! The thoughts and images that we choose to focus on in our mind all have a meaning that we attach to it. For each person the meanings are different - we each have our own 'map of the world' or 'pair of glasses' if you like and its by focusing on these meanings, thoughts and beliefs that we have the control of creating lighter or heavier emotional states. It's up to us.
I certainly have my moments too. The magic part though is being aware and accepting responsibility which can bring a HUGE sense of freedom. We have a choice, we can mope around all day and point the finger elsewhere (easy to do!) or we can accept that the quickest way things will change is by doing something about it and to start changing our focus (more effort at first but oh so more rewarding!).
So when you next catch yourself starting to feel sad, angry or frustrated...trace back your thoughts and notice where your focus was. Quite often you'll notice negative thoughts such as 'its not working, I cant do anything right' or 'he hasn't replied, he's lost interest in me'...hmmm not so uplifting thoughts eh?
No wonder we feel rubbish afterwards!
So how can we let go of the emotional baggage if we find ourselves swimming in heavy emotions?
1) Openness & Loving Awareness: Being open to consider a different perspective, noticing how we feel and tracing back our thoughts to find the root cause. Notice the word 'loving' here. This is not about beating ourselves up again for having a negative thought in the first place...simply be curious and notice.
2) Re-framing: Challenge your thoughts and beliefs and re-frame the situation. Is it really that 'he's lost interest'? Or perhaps he's had a challenging day?
3) Creative Release: If you still feel some of that emotion you wish to let go of, find a creative outlet to release it whether be that through dance, exercise, writing or art etc. I often encourage clients to write what I call the 'I feel...' page if I notice there needs to be more of a release.
Taking out an A4 piece of paper and repeating and finishing the sentence 'I feel...' until they have completely covered the page. Emotions are like energetic heavy weights if we hold onto them...by writing things down we can let go of some of those weights, allowing the emotions to express their true nature and simply be the 'energy in motion' that they are. Its our constant focus on unhelpful thoughts, judgement and lack of creative release that makes them heavier. Writing the 'I feel...' page followed by screwing up and throwing away the paper can create a huge relief. I also use this technique if ever there is a time I feel the need to let go of excess emotional baggage and it works wonders.
Being an empathetic person myself (yes, its my number one Gallup strength too!) can have its pros and cons. Whilst I often feel what clients are feeling and sense intuitively what needs to be worked on in each moment it can also mean I need to be very loyal to my personal well-being to then ensure I can continue giving the best service possible. Just like when you're travelling by plane and they say 'place your own mask on first before helping others' - because if you don't you simply cannot help others effectively.
These above tools are fundamental for any empathetic person, or anyone dealing with unpleasant emotions. Try it, notice how much lighter you can feel and let me know what difference you notice in the comments below! Or perhaps you have a technique that works great for you, I'd love to hear your thoughts - feel free to share with everyone in the comments below.
Its through the practice where the real magic happens!
And finally, do you have friends currently struggling with their emotions? Forward on this post and create pack for a week with your friend, both supporting each other through the 3 step process and discussing the changes that occur...as they say sharing is caring and a helping hand can work wonders.