Recently, I’ve been doing some clutter clearing in my workspace. It's so therapeutic to be throwing out things that I’ve held onto for years.I had been reluctant to discard this “stuff” before now as I had the notion that “one day I’ll definitely use that”. Well…..emmm….11 years later that day is yet to arrive! (Someone told me recently that a guideline for throwing things out is to ask yourself if it brings you joy keep it ….if it doesn’t, bin it!)
A couple of the manuals that I threw out were so old there was dust on them! It’s amazing the stuff you can accumulate in a small space! As I was binning everything I realised that I’ve done a lot courses over the past 10 years. I’ve certificates coming out my ears: 30 at last count and I’m sure there are more. It struck me that for all the courses that I’ve done, I continuously come back to some teachings that are common to them all.
One of these teachings that I talk to clients about time and time again is how to manage their emotions. I believe this to be a major key to our happiness.
Now when I say managing emotions, I don’t mean labeling them, judging them and then filing them away in the storage cabinet that is your body. Cause you know what happens then? Well all that repressed energy is stored in our body and over time it has to come out somewhere: we burn out, get sick, behave irrationally, become depressed, sabotage our lives or all of the above.
While doing this clutter clearing, I came across a lovely little tool that I wanted to share with you that helps you to manage your emotions in a healthy way. I’m not sure where I got it from or who conceived this idea originally but I was so taken with the simplicity of it that I thought it was so lovely and I had to share.
Lots of clients who come to me tell me that they have been told their whole lives to suppress their emotions. They’ve been told since they were young not to get angry, not to get sad, or frustrated, or lonely or anything we deem to be “negative”. And even sometimes when they were really happy they were told also to be quiet. Oops. I remember as a little girl bursting with joy and happiness and I was singing away (can’t hold a note), when someone told me to be quiet. Gutted I didn’t sing again until a few years ago. So it’s not only negative emotions we’re told not to have, it’s also sometimes the positive ones as well!
As adults (and some children unfortunately), social media now tells us the same thing. In our society we feel the need to tell the world how happy we are with our posts, updates, tweets and status. People are being encouraged to “be positive”, there’s lots of images being shared telling us to think positive, don’t give into negativity and be happy. To me it’s ridiculous, unrealistic and impossible to attain.
I remember being at an event and I happened to look at facebook where I saw an update from a friend (at the same event). She posted about what an amazing time she was having, when I looked at her she had the biggest sour face on her I’d ever seen! It was very obvious she wasn’t having a good time. I’ve heard of this happening often, so I know this wasn’t a one off.
Even in our online presence we have to deny our emotions.
In this pursuit of the positive, denying of our actual emotional state and the suppression of the energy of emotions we deem to be negative (& sometimes positive), we are actually affecting our mental, emotional and physical health. I saw an interview lately with a expert on emotions, who said that being happy 100% of the time isn’t possible, and if you are then there is something wrong with you! Amen and Halleluiah! Someone is speaking the truth!
An aspect of my job is to teach people to honour each and every emotion that they have as each one is valid and has a message. I also teach people not to react from any emotional state, but to wait until that state passes and then decide. For example, anger is good, it teaches us about boundaries and behaviour and to feel angry is good as it propels us to make changes, however reacting out of it isn’t generally a positive thing: snapping at a work colleague or partner is most often something that we regret in the short & long term. Expressing your emotions then in this way is the opposite of suppressing them and is disempowering also. So no, not the best idea, but there is another option…..
The 3rd option is what I teach people: Feel your emotion, learn from it, let it go and then take the appropriate action. From a place of calm. This is an empowering, confidence building and a healthy way to manage your emotions.
There are many ways in which to do this. In my Mindfulness courses we have a whole section devoted to this as you un-learn all you’ve been told about emotions and you train yourself instead to greet, and meet each emotions as it turns up, feel into it and let it pass. However this process is a little too lengthy to go into here so I wanted to share something quick and easy to get you started.
As I mentioned,It does take time to un-learn what you’ve been taught and I’m not suggesting that this little tool will fix it for you, but it will give you an idea of how to start to deal with your emotions in a healthier way. If you’re nodding your head at this article, and it feels as if I’m talking about you, then I would definitely recommend that you explore things like Mindfulness, Meditation, Yoga, EFT or any similar therapies.
This tool will also demonstrate to you that each emotion has a message (yes even negative ones!) and when you listen to the message generally the emotion dissipates. This means that it leaves your mind and your body, ie it’s not stored/ suppressed anywhere, ie that’s really good!
Remember there is no magic pill, so you will need to do this often but the more you do it the more you will feel the effects.
Thank you for reading this blog post and phew: for getting to the end of it! (it’s lengthier than my usual) Please do pass this onto anyone who you feel might benefit from this.
Try This Exercise:
Think of something that you know will make you feel bad,
When an image comes to mind, notice:
whether it’s black or white.
Where is it located…..s it in front of you?
Is it to the left or right?
It is big or small?
Moving or Still?
Solid or transparent?
Are there any sounds associated with it?
All of this information is what gives the bad image its power and until a short while ago you were not consciously aware of what was going on. Now that you are aware of the thought, you’re going to ask what it’s intention is.
What does the image want you to know?
Remember that if you’re feeling bad, it’s always for a reason, no matter how unusual. Stop and ask yourself….. “what’s the intention behind this feeling?”
Then think of some ways in which you can respond to that.
Now drain all the colour out of the image and shrink it. Then move it off into the distance.
If it happens to return…simply ask yourself if there’s anything that you’ve missed. If not – just repeat the process.
NB you will only get the amazing benefits of this technique if you practice it every time you feel bad about something.