In today’s world, too often the concept of feelings is linked to weakness and ultra-sensitivity. What a shame! Feelings – and their cousin, emotions – are powerful drivers of our thoughts and actions. Recent neuroscience suggests that feelings and emotions are actually capable of changing the way our brains work, how hormones act in our bodies, and literally how we see the world. Powerful stuff.
Like any powerful tool, emotions and feelings can be used to create or destroy. Destructive emotions include things like distress, fear, shame, and anger. Constructive emotions include: joy, abundance, bliss, and empathy. Notice I didn’t say “bad” or “good” emotions. Those are judgments and only apply to one person’s point of view – by labeling something ‘good’ or ‘bad’ we are telling the world that our opinion is the only one that matters and – if you have different values or judgements – we may find ourselves in conflict.
Next time you feel a destructive emotion welling up inside, try this:
1. Stop. Take three deep breaths – in and out through your nose, calmly inhaling and exhaling fully.
2. Ask yourself, “why”? Why am I feeling this way? What is happening right now? Why am I reacting this way? What story am I telling myself about what’s happening?
3. Make a different choice. Chose actively to focus on a different emotion. Don’t try to banish the negative feeling (that leads to resistance and frustration – more negative energy!). Focus all that energy on a constructive, positive emotion – pick the first one that comes to mind. Repeat it to yourself…”I feel ____ “. Keep breathing.
4. Take it easy on yourself. Life can be difficult and we all have days that stretch us mentally, physically, and emotionally. It’s natural and completely normal to feel upset, to be sad or lonely.
5. Ask for help when you need it. Being vulnerable is challenging for many people. But when you need to help, reach out to someone who can support through those tough times.
We can’t control what happens to us in our lives – challenges, pain, and struggles will happen. The good news is that we ALWAYS have a choice about how we feel.
Keep practicing self-compassion (and deep breathing!) and let your feelings be your guide.
Until next time, keep working towards and living your best life!