Hello Beautiful People!
How was your week? How are you feeling?
This last week had me feeling a little lack-luster. I was stuck, lethargic, lost, unmotivated, uninspired, and at complete loose-ends. And on top of that I felt frustrated and guilty for not feeling and acting like my usual productive self. The Arizona heat has had me stuck inside, and as I was un-enthusiastically spending time in my apartment I grabbed my latest issue of Yoga Journal and sat down. But right there, in a full-page advertisement on the back cover, was a solution to my funky mood: Ben & Jerry’s Dairy-Free Cherry Garcia ice cream. “Oh, what the hell, it would feel so good to curl up on the couch with a spoon and a pint of that,” I thought. WHOA. STOP RIGHT THERE. Okay, for starters, I don’t even like Cherry Garcia ice cream, so what’s this reaction all about? Am I hungry? No. Is my body craving ice cream? No. So why am I thinking these thoughts?… What am I feeling?
If you’ve ever coached with me, then you’ve probably heard me use, or refer to, a coaching model created by fellow coach, Brooke Castillo. The model goes something like this:
THOUGHTS → FEELINGS → ACTION/INACTION
That is, what we think creates our emotions; the big loud thoughts that pass through our minds, and the little quiet ones that often go unobserved, are what determine how we feel. How we feel is what drives our action or inaction; what we do, or do not do, is determined by our emotions.
I’d like to add to this model that so much of what we do or do not do, is a way of avoiding, hiding from, covering, numbing, or “fixing” our feelings.
We learn from a young age that when we feel sad, lonely, angry, bored, or anxious, to take action to feel better. We have learned that “negative” emotions should be reversed or soothed as quickly and by any means possible. We habitually strive to fix our feelings.
How many of the habits or behaviors that you want to change have formed as a way for you to feel better?
How many times have you reached for food, alcohol, drugs, shopping, or even exercise as a way to numb or fix your feelings?
What if before you took action or inaction, you took time to sit with your emotions?
What are you trying to feel better from?
Give yourself permission to feel the way you feel. Your emotions don’t need to be justified, they are valid simply because you feel them. Accept them. Sitting with your emotions can be uncomfortable, and it painful, but as you learn to hold space for them, and you choose to feel them, you can tap into the wisdom they can offer. All our emotions are valuable, even the less pleasant ones. They are there to tell us when something in life is amiss, when something needs change or attention, or bring light to a growth opportunity.
We are beautiful, dynamic, human beings who are blessed to experience a whole spectrum of emotions, and we can learn from each one of them.
So before you reach for that pint of ice cream, or that glass of wine, or whatever your go-to may be, check in. Hold space for yourself and observe, without judgment, what specific feelings you are trying to fix. Act as an OBSERVER, Be HONEST with yourself, and TRUST that your emotions have wisdom to offer. Just PAUSE, even for a moment…
WHAT are you feeling?
WHY are you feeling it?
WHERE in your body do you feel it?
HOW long can you sit with this emotion today?
WHEN did you start feeling this way?
Here are 5 strategies to help you to step inside and feel your feelings:
- Mindful Meditation: Use your meditation practice to bring attention and awareness to whatever arises in the present moment.
- Body Scan: Take a few minutes to quietly observe where in your body you feel your emotions, Is it a lump in your stomach? A tightness in your throat? Do you furrow your eyebrows or hold tension in your fists?
- Free Writing: Grab a pen and paper and just write it all out. Don’t hold back, don’t edit yourself, just allow your emotions and thoughts to flow. Keep it in a journal, or shred it to pieces.
- Visualization: As a meditative practice imagine what your feelings look like. What color are they? What images come to mind? Are your emotions like a tornado or a locked door?
- Deep Breathing: Breath brings awareness and calm to the mind and body, use it to find your center, and dig deep within yourself.
Take care, dig deep, and have a dynamic week!