Were you taught to bury your challenging emotions like I was? To be the pretty, pleasant little girl who didn’t make other people feel uncomfortable with her messy emotions?
It took me decades to break free from that pattern — and to be honest, I’ll still occasionally catch myself making “nice” when I feel anything but. I have found, though, that when I feel pinged by something someone said or by an email with bad news, the sooner I cut to the core of the emotion, the faster I can move through it and get to the other side.
Here’s the thing.
Your emotions contain important information about a) what is and is not okay for you, b) something in you that needs to be healed, or c) something that needs to be expressed.
And they don’t go away when you escape into a bag of chips instead of feeling them.
They go underground and create distance.
Distance between you and your truth. Ouch.
Distance between you and your joy. Ugh.
Distance between you and your loved ones. Yikes!
Each unfelt emotion adds a brick to a wall around your heart.
But there’s good news (yay!). There’s an antidote to that distance — a way to embrace the emotions without being engulfed by them.
First, each time you get triggered, recognize you’re at a choice point. Will you choose a form of escape, perhaps stuffing your face or downright denial? Or will you be brave enough to stand your ground and step into the vulnerable place of being REAL about what’s going on for you?
If you choose to stuff it down, no judgement here (we’ve all done that – whether with food, alcohol, shopping, drama, TV), just understand that you are choosing to perpetuate the problem.
If you choose to get curious instead, you take the first step toward healing. Ahhhh.
Harville Hendricks said, “Tension is the energy it takes to keep truth out of our awareness.”
What is the truth that you are withdrawing from? What are you actually feeling? And why are you feeling it? When you take the time to process the emotions as they come up, you dissipate the charge around them and begin the process of healing. This makes you able to handle the next situation that comes up with more grace and ease. You will find over time that you have fewer and fewer triggers that can take you off course from your peace.
Pull out your journal and walk through this process and see what turns up!
The E Squared Process: Exploring Emotions.
Think of a recent or current event in your life that pinged you (or outright hijacked you) and then respond to these prompts in your journal. Later, you can come back to this process whenever you feel pinged.
- This is what happened (stay with the objective facts — what would a video camera have recorded?).
- This is what I felt like it meant (this is where you start to understand the story you layered on to the events).
- This is how I felt about it (remember, this is about letting the feelings come up and out. No shame. No judgement. Just curiosity. Keep asking yourself, “What else was I feeling? And what else?”).
- This is why I felt that.
- This is what I would say to my best friend if she was feeling this.
- This is what I want to say to my Little Girl self who was hijacked by fear in this moment.
- This is what Love would say about this situation.
- How did this situation help me define who I do or don’t want to be?
- Is there anything else this emotion has to teach me?
Give it a try and let me know how it goes!
With much love,