One of my clients said something during a recent session that really struck me. He told me that he was finding himself moving away from his routine of safely doing what needs to be done to get what he needs to have.
Instead, he said, he was starting to allow new, more challenging experiences into his life. Even though that sometimes felt scary, it also felt like he was really starting to live.
Go With the Scary Feelings, Not Against Them
For most of us, trying something new can spark intense physical feelings. Our heart rate quickens and our breathing gets shallow. We often associate these sensations with anxiety and fear.
These feelings are uncomfortable so we tend to actively resist them. The best thing to do when you find yourself operating from a place of resistance, is to pause, take a deep breath and say, “These are just feelings and I can handle them.”
Scary and Intense Go Hand-in-Hand with Excitement
Before our work together, my client told me, he’d always figured he could either be either anxious or happy. One or the other, but not both.
When we begin to interpret those uncomfortable physical sensations as excitement rather than fear, we realize that anxiety and happiness are actually quite compatible.
Because of our work together, my client was starting to understand that his happiness wasn’t dependent on not feeling anxious.
Your Emotions Are A Choice
It’s too easy to focus on the primary emotion we might be feeling at a given moment — sadness, fear, anger — and view that as the “truth.” But we have a choice when it comes to experiencing our emotions.
Imagine you wake up tomorrow morning in a bad mood. You could say to yourself, “I can’t believe I’m in a bad mood again! I’m always in a bad mood. This is just who I am,” and carry that emotion around with you all day long.
Or you could say, “I’m in a bad mood. Let me look at that.” Ask yourself if you’re projecting meaning onto the fact that you’re in a bad mood in this moment. Are you always in a bad mood or is that just what’s happening right now? Is it possible that you’ll wake up in a good mood tomorrow? Is it possible you could be in a good mood in the next few minutes?
Your Emotions Aren’t Giving You The Entire Picture
When we accept our feelings as “Capital T” Truth, it’s as though we’re looking at a scene through a very narrow window and thinking we see everything.
Imagine viewing the same scene through a much bigger window. You’ll start to pick up on additional details that broaden your understanding.
You can do the same thing with your feelings. If you wake up in a bad mood, expand your view of that single moment to include your whole day, calling to mind all the great stuff you’ve got planned.
By expanding your view you’ll be able to move beyond that one moment of grumpiness.
Stop Judging Yourself for Feeling
One of the biggest mistakes I see people making when dealing with emotions is to judge themselves for feeling them.
Feeling sad doesn’t mean that you’re a sad person or that you’re always going to be sad. It only means that in this one moment, you’re feeling sad. And that’s OK. It’s important to actually feel your feelings.
When you allow yourself to feel to your emotions without judgment and without labeling them as fact, you’ll be able to remind yourself that this feeling is only one tiny part of a much larger picture. You’ll be able to feel them without being stuck in them.
Do you find yourself attaching too much meaning to your emotions? How do you move through those moments? Leave a comment in the area below to add your two cents.