Our emotions become upset when we feel our needs are not met. We may be feeling the need for some quiet time alone, or we may crave company and laughter. We might feel the need to rest but feel too busy to take a break. We might feel unheard, disregarded, or just plain overwhelmed.
Whatever the case, and however you feel, there is a way to acknowledge and honour your feelings without feeding them and allowing them to grow into an all encompassing mass.
These five simple steps provide an opportunity for reflection and personal growth. Your feelings are validated but they are viewed in perspective. A funk might feel all encompassing and the only overriding feeling in your life right now, but there's a part of you that knows it won't be next week, or next year. It's a little thunderstorm, bought about by your own internal weather system. By processing your feelings in a gentle relaxed manner where you take a step back and observe, you can find balance and recover quickly without zapping yourself or someone you love with a bolt of lightning.
1. Name that Feeling
Identify the exact emotion you are feeling right now. Get specific and fill in the blank. "I feel ______." Angry? Sad? Hopeless? Overwhelmed? Pick one descriptive word for how you feel, be specific and then acknowledge your choice. "I feel x."
2. Find where the Feeling Lives
Emotions are thoughts that have distinct physical sensations. Find where the emotion you just identified is making it's presence felt in your body. Your emotions cause the release of powerful chemicals. Your emotions are energy in motion that trigger your body to respond, when you deal with the energy of the emotion you can help it evaporate and help yourself enter into a calmer place of self care and understanding. Find the feeling in your body and sit with it a minute. Take some deep breaths and sit and observe, don't engage with it, just watch and witness.
Allow your attention to feel the sensations in your body and as you do, some of the emotional charge will begin to melt away. Now, as your mind begins to clear, you can start to listen for the message this emotion is carrying.
3. Allow Private Expression
Talk to yourself about how you feel. And listen as if you were listening to a close friend. Take a minute or two to fully express yourself. You could have a dialogue in your mind, or talk to yourself out loud, or write your feelings on paper, or in a journal. Let your full understanding of this emotion or situation come to the surface of your awareness now, and express it fully.
4. Release with Your Breath
Physical movement is the key to discharging built up stuck nervous energy. For this stage of your processing and releasing this emotion put your full attention on the area where you feel it in your body and begin taking deep active breaths. Breath in strongly through your nose and then sigh out through your mouth. Sit straight and focused and keep breathing into that place where that emotion is held, and as you do begin to feel it loosen, lighten and release. Keep breathing, and keep clearing.
5. Acknowledge and Appreciate
You have just taken valuable steps to healthily process a negative emotion. You've acknowledged and respected your feelings, you've expressed them fully and then released them from your system. Well done. Now it's time to pat yourself on the back and reward yourself. What would make you feel good right now? Pick something uplifting like listening to music, taking a walk, running a warm bath, or sipping a cup of tea. Nourish yourself with a few minutes of self care and make a mental note of what you learned through this process so you can remember to use it again and again as you continue to make healthy choices in balance and growth whatever your day may throw your way.
In conclusion: we all get funky moods, I've just spent a week full of extra obligations that weren't on my to do list. I started the week with a generous heart feeling happy to share and care but as the days rolled by and I spent half a night sitting up in bed with a nasty headache I realised I was getting out of step with myself. Time to stop and re-balance before my mental goop spoils my mood and clouds the space of those I love.
I have a few tools for checking in with myself and getting my head straight, the process I've shared above is a definite favourite. I hope it helps you as it's helped me and I welcome your comments.
Photo by Beni Ishaque Luthor