So I have been welcoming my negative emotions and sitting with them. The other day I was off on a new adventure and was feeling nervous about it, so I said welcome nervousness, come along with me. It occurred to me that those feelings will be with me no matter what. They just are. I noticed that when I acknowledged that they were there and invited them along, I actually felt better. It was ok that I was nervous, in fact it totally made sense, and I think in this acceptance of the feelings there was less of a struggle with them. They had been recognized, heard and accepted which is exactly what they want, so they were no longer trying to get my attention.
I also noticed this week that spending time with negative emotions can leave you with residual feelings that can affect your view of the rest of the day. So, now I am adding some time feeling positive feelings. I heard on tv the benefits of positive daydreaming. I’d never heard this term before and it was perfect timing. I think of things that make me happy. It can be something that actually happened, something I did, some nice thing someone did for me, something someone said, or it can be rewriting an ending to something that happened in a more positive way. There are lots of ways to do this and it’s been fun rewriting my interactions.
This week, when I feel some negative emotion, often worry, I have been saying, I notice that I feel worry in my body. Welcome, worry. I’ll take good care of you. Then I may ask questions with curiosity. What more can you tell me? And then I listen and acknowledge. I might say, oh, I see, or yes, that seems familiar. Then I go about my day knowing that I am bringing worry along with me and that I am ok with that. I mean, let’s face it, worry will be there regardless, so I may as well accept it. I’ve noticed that I feel more calm. I think it stems from not fighting the feelings. I can see now that what I used to do, which was try to calm them, actually feels more like pushing them away or wanting to change them or reframe the situation, when really what feelings want is to be heard. Period. Nothing else needs to be done. When I honor them, accept them and let them be, then they don’t have to keep popping up wanting attention.
I think my old ways were just adding another layer of discomfort because I would feel angry that worry was still there. And that just adds to the fight and I feel even more uncomfortable and end up saying things that turn people off. Whereas when I say hello worry. Sit down. What’s up? Worry feels heard and doesn’t have to keep trying to get my ear. Then I can have a more peaceful experience.
See Experiment for details.
I’m finding it a challenge to honor my feelings, to just sit with them. At first my instinct was to run away and my mind does wander, then I remind myself to come back to the feeling. Another day I will notice I am comforting myself against the feelings and I remember not to do that. Another time, I will notice myself reframing the situation. I do believe these are useful strategies to use to manage my feelings when I’m in public or with other people, however this experiment is to take the time to be with my feelings, as difficult as they may be.
What I am able to do now, is to be curious about my feelings and to ask questions like: Where do you feel that in the body? Does it have a colour? When did it begin? Is there anything else you can tell me about it?
I find it helpful to be the witness or the observer. This taking a step back lets me be present without being consumed by the feelings. It also helps my younger self feel like she doesn’t have to do this alone. It’s good for her to know that I am there for her, that I care and I’m looking after her. When she feels safe, the feelings will arise and can be processed.
I think this might be a bit of a process for me but I do believe it is very worthwhile. Even though I can’t really say what the result are yet, I do plan on continuing.