If our power is within the present moment, then we must learn where to direct it.
On the last post in this series I talked to you about how activating a consciousness in the present is the starting point to being able to cope better with stress and regain balance and your own personal power.
I’d like to move on to what you can do IN this present moment to cope with situations and feelings as they come up. This post is going to teach you a little about how the Mind, Body and Spirit processes what is happening to us and how we can step into our own power and feel more able to manage ‘feelings’ in general. Beyond this post I will be addressing specific feelings, with a focus on some of the hardest emotions to cope with, starting with anger.
To be able to process a feeling or a situation, we must ‘feel’ it
I learned about how our human brain processes things about ten years ago through my experience with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Through EMDR therapy I was taught some incredible lessons and tools that not only that enabled me to recover but that I now use on a daily basis and want to share with you!
Our brain will very naturally process our positive emotions and experiences, this is because we are unafraid of feeling them, we immerse ourselves in the moment when we are happy, we notice feeling butterflies, excitement, wonder, we are present and processing. Our happy moments very easily slot into the incredible filing cabinet that is our brain.
Any situation or feeling that we have that comes outside something that feels comfortable and natural will not always be processed. A traumatic event is the ultimate example as to how this happens but the same applies to every single experience and moment. This will be different to each individual, when we have an experience or a moment beyond our balance, beyond our comfort and beyond our knowledge of what to do with it, this will not get ‘filed’ in our brain.
What happens when something has not been processed?
A feeling that has not been processed is able to affect us in a negative way in our day to day life. There is a wide scale of how this can become apparent for us. Using holistic thinking we know that a feeling and experience is stored in the mind, body and spirit.
- In extreme Trauma we can experience ‘Flashbacks’. This is partly because as a safely measure when we suffer in an extreme way the brain saves us from having to really ‘feel’ what we are going through. This is when a person is in shock. You may relate to this if you have experience grief, an accident or another traumatic experience. This period can last for days to months to years. It is the most natural for our brain to process and file so at some point the experience will rear it’s head, this is when a ‘Flashback’ happens as the brain is very literally re experiencing the event. Through various therapies and a healing period of time a traumatic experience can be processed so that it becomes a bad memory as opposed to something that affects us every day. This is of course a journey very specific to the individual and experience.*
- In our daily lives we can notice feelings and experiences that have not been processed. An example that I feel you will probably have experienced is that after having cross words with a friend, partner or family member you went about your business and the next time you saw them you felt that uncomfortable boom in your chest, accompanied by anxiety and stress? This is because the feelings that came up when you had the argument we not processed, therefore they were able to affect you at a later moment in time.
- As a daily build up. From the above example you can see how stress manifests by us not processing our feelings and experiences. If you are angry on a daily basis perhaps at work or holding on to something from the past, it will layer upon itself over and over again so that eventually you may experience the unprocessed effect with an anxiety attack, a feeling of being very overwhelmed and also physical illness caused by stress.
- Panic and Anxiety. I class a panic attack as a traumatic event and once you have experienced extreme anxiety often the subsequent anxiety is actually because of a fear of having a panic attack. If the Anxiety is able to be processed in the exact moment you have it then you never have this build up and are less likely to have a constant low grade anxiety.
Processing instead of projecting
A very common thing people do is to project feelings instead of feeling them. This is most often with negative emotions like anger. We get angry or jealous, we don’t want to feel it, it tastes too bitter, it’s so powerful and fearful that we want to get rid of it, so we spit it out. The projecting of negative feelings is so destructive and hurtful to others as well as yourself. If you learn to recognise your emotion in the moment and then feel it, the chances of wanting to project it out can get down to a total zero. Amazing huh?
“I would rather process my negative feelings than project them unkindly at someone else”
You can see in many of the above examples also how unprocessed feelings fling us from the present moment, so how do we learn to process? what do we do in the present moment? We ‘Feel our feelings’!
The most simple way to start turning around your negative habits, self esteem and management of your life.
♥ SO, how do we ‘feel our feelings?’
Ok, so the great news is that you can do this processing on your own and avoid future stress and learn to cope with negative emotions. Great right? I want to give you a tool that you can use in every situation, it’s a great practice and one of the first I teach to all my coaching clients.
‘I AM’ vs ‘I FEEL’
As I mentioned above, we tend to veer away from feeling our negative emotions, simply because we don’t want to. Sometimes we don’t want to even admit we are angry, jealous or hurt, and with emotions like anxiety they are just so scary to us and we just want to distract ourselves. However the best and quickest way to be free from a negative feeling is to feel it. Let’s get to it!
‘I AM’ – This is a labeling term, it’s like slapping a badge on yourself and calling yourself an emotion. On a deeper level, by calling yourself a negative word you are constantly reinforcing fear based and untrue belief in yourself.
Hands up who has ever labeled themselves or the moment with a negative word? e,g ‘I AM FAT’, ‘I AM UGLY’, ‘I AM ANGRY’, ‘I AM STUPID’, I AM CRAZY’…(*Raises hand)
By sticking a ‘negative badge’ on yourself, you by choice remove all of your personal power in that moment
With an ‘I AM’ phrase there is no feeling and so therefore no processing happening and so it is just there like a negative sheet of paper starting a pile up.
- Remove the term ‘I AM’ from your vocabulary. This is the first and most positive step you can make.
Don’t label yourself with what you feel! feel it instead!
‘I FEEL’ – Now this is processing! ‘I feel‘ is a statement that enables the holistic trio of mind, body and spirit to get into action and for the mind to process. The best way to do this is with a holistic viewpoint in mind.
- As from right now, every time you use an ‘I AM’ phrase change it to an ‘I FEEL’ phrase and notice how the energy and weight of the statement shifts. This is the ‘mind’ part, the statement you can say and think.
- When you have a feeling come up part of the processing comes from acknowledging that feelings are felt in the phyiscal body too. With your ‘I Feel’ statement scan your body and notice any changes, perhaps your hands feel funny or legs wobbly. You can then use ‘I feel’ for that too. Focus in on the area.
- Notice what the experience does to your energy, do you suddenly feel ungrounded or dizzy? these are the most common with negative feelings as we try and distract ourselves from them so propel ourselves in full force out of the present moment.
Two examples –
- I AM anxious —> I FEEL anxious. Can you see the difference just from looking at those words? Although when we are in an anxious moment it really does feel sometimes like something has swept in and has you in it’s grasp, by saying ‘I feel anxious’ you reclaim that feeling, it is your feeling. As you connect your mind to feeling anxious, you will notice the body and where this feeling is storing, with anxiety it is most often in wobbly legs or a heaviness in the chest. Put your attention on those feelings and as you are present with them they dissolve. It can feel scary to focus in on what in the moment is a very unpleasant feeling but it works and with practice this can dissolve anxiety very quickly.**
- I AM fat/unattractive/stupid —> I FEEL fat/unattractive/stupid. There is a huge difference in these statements, one is considerably more self loving than the other. Even if there is a huge part of you that wants to label you or your body something extreme, step back and feel it instead. This is such a big step to start regaining lost self confidence.
Back to the present moment
When you use the ‘I feel’ in the moment you are totally present, this is exactly where you want to be.
Get to it!
- Use the term ‘I FEEL’ for positive as well as negative feelings. Start right now and become aware of how often you label yourself a negative feeling. Above I gave two examples but we all know the spectrum of feelings is massive: jealousy, embarrassment, anger, sadness, oh boy, humans eh!
- Start a journal addressing these statements, when you notice an abundance of the ‘I AM’ phrase, write down “Why do I feel like this is a part of me?”, answer your question and see what comes up. This is the beginning of the next step where we are able to go deeper with our feelings and work out why we struggle with certain ones, we begin to see how they form links to feelings from the past. Once we find these links, we have the power to break them.
- Be kind to yourself. You may become very aware of how often you are imprinting a negative thought form on yourself. Know that recognising is the first step to changing. Change is awesome, well done!
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Your mantra for this exercise.
Feeling my feelings helps me regain my balance and reclaim my personal power
I would love talk with you in the comments or come and join me on social media
* Having had PTSD I understand it is terrifying and debilitating. I recovered and healed from my PTSD through EMDR therapy, something that I believe really saved my life. I would highly recommend it if you feel you have experienced a trauma as well as a well rounded therapy that is wonderful for grief, stress, panic attacks and many other things!