April 29, 2018
When you’re feeling uncomfortable emotions, this is a quick, easy way to come back to yourself.
NOTICE THE DISCOMFORT
You know when something feels off. (In fact we’re better at noticing when something’s wrong than when things are right.)
We all have a monkey in our mind, leading us on endless chases through forests of ideas that have nothing to do with reality.
That monkey is our thoughts, and if we don’t rein them in, they will run the show, whether they make sense or not.
The thing to remember is that when your thoughts are running the show, they are creating emotions that make an appearance as physical sensations in your body.
If you want to manage your thoughts, sometimes it’s easier to start with identifying the sensations and the emotions.
DESCRIBE THE SENSATIONS
Pay attention and describe the physical sensations you’re experiencing in your body – pressure, buzzing, pulsing, heat, cold, tension … whatever it is you’re feeling, put words to it.
Your emotions and physical sensations are caused by thoughts you’re having, whether or not you’re aware of them.
Describe the sensations so that your brain can shift from creating the emotions with your thoughts, to observing the emotions as physical sensations in your body.
As soon as you take charge of your mind by paying attention to what’s going on in your body, you begin the process of changing the emotions.
NAME THE EMOTIONS
Name the feelings that the sensations represent – anxious, angry, insecure, sad, disappointed, lonely, inadequate, stuck.
When you label what you’re experiencing, you are separating from the emotion and observing it, rather than continuing to believe that you are it.
At the point where you label it, you stop both creating it, and perpetuating it.
FIND THE STORY
Remind yourself that the reason you’re feeling anxious is because of what you’re telling yourself. It’s a phrase or a sentence or several sentences, playing like a broken record in your mind: “Nobody likes me”; “I won’t be able to get it all done today and I’ll get fired”’ “I can’t figure it out – I’m so stupid”; “They’re so stupid”; “Nobody understands” …
The story possibilities are endless.
TIP: You might think you can’t find the story. But if you don’t tell yourself you can’t find it, you’ll find it.
CHANGE THE STORY
Once you’ve found the story that’s making you feel uncomfortable, you have the opportunity to reframe or change it.
When you change the story, you change the emotion. From “I won’t be able to get it all done today and I’ll get fired” to “I’ll figure out the next step as soon as I put my mind to it”, or “Yeah, it’s a lot, but I can probably get it done today, and if I can’t I’ll get it done tomorrow”.
- Notice that you’re feeling uncomfortable.
- Describe the sensations you’re experiencing in your body so that you can observe them, not be them.
- Name the emotions – anxiety, anger, sadness, disappointment, frustration, impatience.
- Find the repetitive story creating the emotions.
- Change the story.
The very next time you experience discomfort, set an intention to try the six steps. Intention gets the ball rolling. Practice gives it power.
Sometimes all discomfort needs is a little acceptance. But when you start feeling stuck and acceptance feels elusive, these ideas may make a difference.
Love to hear if this was helpful, and any ideas you’ve used to manage uncomfortable thoughts, feelings or emotions. Please pass it along to anyone you think might benefit.