In Part 1 of this post: http://wp.me/p3ckDt-3C, we explored how your emotions hold important information about your current state of wellbeing. So how do you access that inner information when you have spent years avoiding your uncomfortable feelings? Here are some quick tips to start you off:
When you’re all worked up inside, see if you can take 5-10 minutes for yourself where you’re not doing anything. Find somewhere you can be alone so that you can feel into what’s going on for you.
Be in your body
To feel your emotions you have to be in your body. The quickest way to drop into your body is to pay attention to your body’s sensations. A useful starting place is noticing your breath – one minute of paying attention to your breath will bring you into your body pronto!
Don’t think, just feel
Most of us think we are feeling our emotions, but what we’re actually doing is analysing and rationalising them so we can solve the problem with our minds. If you’re trying to work out why you’re feeling the way you do, then you’re actually thinking about your emotions. Having said that, it can be useful to ask yourself why you’re feeling this way, then wait and feel the response in your body rather than with your mind. To extract the guidance from your emotions, you need to feel your feelings, which is a sensory experience, rather than a mental process.
Forget what others said or did; for now the focus is on what’s been triggered in you
Your feelings are about you, no matter how badly someone else has behaved. Even if another person has been the trigger for your distress, ultimately how you feel is your domain and it’s up to you to take responsibility for your feelings.
One way to do this is to get curious about what the other person has triggered in you. Is it fear of rejection, or of not being liked? Is it a lack of respect for you? Were you misunderstood? Or rudely interrupted? Did you feel invisible? Whatever’s coming up for you, once you realise what’s been triggered in you, then you can go a step deeper and sense into what, for example, being rejected or being misunderstood means to you.
Bring empathy to your inner judge and critic
That persistent inner judge and critic can create havoc in our system, bringing up feelings of shame and unworthiness in situations where we feel vulnerable. Shame is when we feel inherently bad or unworthy of love and belonging. It’s a toxic emotion that’s strongly connected to addiction, depression, anxiety and even suicide. Brené Brown’s work has shown that empathy is the best antidote to shame. If shame is coming up in your emotions, see if you can have some empathy for that part of you that’s feeling unworthy or bad, as it will go a long way to dissipating those nasty shame gremlins.
Above all, be patient with yourself as it can take some time to adjust to this kind of inner attention if you’re not used to it. Yet the rewards are many, including building trust in yourself, inner resilience, strengthening emotional intelligence and learning to sort through what issues are yours and what belongs to others in your relationships. Not to mention the information your system gives you when you pay attention to it!
How do you work with your emotions? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.