This week, I want to share a specific way you can deal with your negative emotions.
Sadness, anger, hurt… those are well known visitors in our lives. We all know them, don’t we? Not pleasant feelings – at all.
Well, the negative emotion I was feeling last week was mostly… fear.
This February, I will be starting a new life. Yes, sounds a bit theatrical, but it’s true.
My partner and I have decided to spend 2017 traveling. Working & traveling. We cancelled our apartment. I resigned from a work position I had in one firm (let go of that steady income), and we bought one way tickets. I’m already saying goodbye to everything I know here.
First stop is Thailand, then Australia, and then New Zealand. After that, who knows.
One would think I must be on cloud 9, right?
Every day I’m dancing with joy.
However, it’s not joy I’m only dancing with. If I’m honest with you, I had been drowning in anxiety and fear as well.
What was going on?
During the day, I would feel great. I would my tasks, have sessions with clients. And, at the end of the day, I felt contented. My mornings? Completely different story. I would wake up feeling anxious like never before.
My fear would literally wake me up.
First thoughts would pound in my head: “What are you doing?! What if something bad happens? What if you end up alone, or run out of money? Why are you leaving your family?!! You know nothing about where you’re going!!”
I would spend the first minutes of the day curled up in my bed, gripped with anxiety, trying to get rid of my fear, and wondering “Where the hell is this coming from?!”
A week went by, and every morning Miss Anxiety would come and visit me.
Finally, I had a talk with myself. A quality one on one session, with myself. It took me a while to realize… and ask myself: Why are you fighting it? Why are you fighting your fears, and yourself?
In that moment, I knew exactly what to do.
I realized the common theme in my life: by resisting my fears and pushing them away, I only made things worse (again!)
This is something we all do, way too often. Unconsciously or consciously, we try to make a bad feeling go away by running away from it, numbing ourselves, or trying to shift our attention to something else.
We often add even more pain by feeling sorry for ourselves, in that moment, because we feel so sad, angry, hurt, etc. (How many times have you done that? ; ) )
And if you ask me, all I wanted was to snap my fingers and make the fear disappear.
Unfortunately, that trick doesn’t work. (You know it.)
So here’s one trick that does work – proved and tested. Hundreds of times.
Whenever you’re experiencing emotions like sadness, hurt, anger, disappointment, loneliness, ________ (insert your own), go through these five steps and release your negative emotion by turning it into your friend.
1. You Stop resisting it.
Yes, don’t push it away, no matter how uncomfortable it feels.
The next morning that I woke up with my fear, instead of waiting for it to go away, I let it stay in my body.
I located it where it was in my body (it was in my chest and stomach) and I felt it – entirely. I placed my arms on my chest and stomach, and I gently whispered “You are welcome here.”
I welcomed my fear.
In that moment, the fear loosened up a bit. It was still there, but it wasn’t so overwhelming.
2. Send it love
Why? Well, for numerous reasons. The main one (in this exercise) is because by sending love to it, unconsciously, we stop telling ourselves we are wrong for feeling this way. Suddenly, we don’t feel so bad for feeling this way. We are saying to ourselves that we’re okay.
That’s why, the next thing I did was that I sent it love. From my heart, I imagined sending love to that part of my body. I let love rush through my entire body, especially in those areas – chest and stomach.
The grip has loosened up. I could breathe again.
3. Realize what’s behind that emotion
When “negative” emotions appear, they are a perfect indicator that one of our needs isn’t being met. We are missing something in order to feel good or, at least better.
Therefor, I closed my eyes and asked my fear: Why are you here?
I asked myself: What is the need behind my fear that isn’t being met?
And I listened.
The answer I got was: “You need to trust in yourself more. You need to trust that you know what you’re doing, and that whatever comes up – you will know how to deal with it. Trust that all is going to be good.”
The need behind my fear was my need for certainty and security.
Since going into the unknown is everything but certainty, the only certainty I can have is about myself. The only thing I can be sure of, is that I will do great!
4. Promise to meet that need
Once you realize what exactly you need, promise yourself that you will do something about it. You will find some other way to fulfil that need.
Knowing that all I needed was to have a little bit more trust and faith, during the day, I shifted my thoughts to more encouraging ones, and I built my self-trust again.
5. Say thanks
Where would we be without appreciating lessons like these?
Lying in my bed with my hands on my chest and stomach, sending love and realizing I need to trust myself more, I said “Thank you” to my fear. Thank you for wanting me to feel safe.
Bare in mind: Your emotions are your friends.
That negative emotion is here only because it wants something good for you.
It tells you that “something” isn’t right the way it is. That you yearn for “something” other than that.
It wants you to get up and go for that “something”.
So, instead of fighting yourself, find out what that is and go for it.
And thank your emotions for reminding you to do something about the things you’re not happy with. That’s the only way to make peace and say goodbye to them. That’s the way to feel calm, content, loved, connected, appreciated, and so on.
Should we wrap up?
Here’s the short overview of the 5-step process:
- Stop resisting it – locate it in your body, (where it is), and express that you welcome your emotion
- Send it love – imagine sending love to that area, and spread the feeling of love through your entire body
- Realize what’s behind that emotion – ask your fear: Why are you here? and ask yourself: What is the need behind my fear that isn’t being met?
- Promise to meet your need – what are other ways that you will fulfill that need
- Say Thank you – and let your emotion go (if it hasn’t disappeared already).
Stay friends with your emotions.