In my business, it’s not unusual for clients to come in consumed by emotion, feeling stuck and unable to find their way out.
People experience emotions in different ways. Some are completely overwhelmed and taken over by the emotions. Others are totally detached from them – an effort to avoid feeling them at all. Although we all probably lean more towards one or the other of these, neither extreme is healthy for us.
As always, balance is the key – somewhere in the middle is the healthiest way to deal with our feelings. Emotions are a part of being human, but they are only part of us. If we can recognize this, and allow ourselves to feel them without getting caught up in the memories of the events that brought them on, we will be able to move forward. If we can experience the physicality of the emotion without staying in the story that is tied to them, we can usually move through the emotion much quicker than we ever imagined. THE THOUGHTS ARE WHAT GIVES THE EMOTIONS ENERGY.
Most of our thoughts just blow through our minds – sort of like the ribbons that scroll across our TV screen when we’re watching the news. We have to choose which one we’re going to pay attention to. If we choose one that makes us feel bad, we can change our mind and choose another one that makes us feel a little better.
But some thoughts have been around for so long that they seem to find a corner and set up house in our minds. These are usually those core negative beliefs we’ve developed over the years. Often they were taught to us by our parents or society, as a social meme, and we’ve fed them until they gained weight in our belief system. They eventually develop into patterns of attitudes and behaviors that usually don’t serve us very well. But because they’ve become so much a part of how we see ourselves, we don’t think we can rid ourselves of them. We can – but we have to make a conscious decision to put our energy toward different, more positive thoughts.
One way to find the middle ground in our experience of emotions is to imagine stepping outside ourselves and becoming the observer of our lives, almost as if we’re watching ourselves in a movie. This allows us to feel what we need to feel, yet remain a little more objective and in control of our behaviors. It gives us that distance to recognize and own the feelings without letting them take over our decisions.
Even though our emotions run deep, our thoughts are on the surface. Finding a way to shut the thoughts down – through meditation, relaxation, visualization or even just soft soothing music – can help calm us and connect us to our inner strength. We’re similar to the ocean. On the surface it’s often very dangerous and chaotic with huge waves and turbulence. That turbulence is our thoughts – the intellectual violence. But if you go to the ocean floor (shut down the thoughts), it’s calm, quiet and peaceful.