Often it is fear, dread, or anxiety. And it feels kind of like you are going to die if you don’t make it go away.
Truthbomb: emotions are not emergencies. You don’t have to rush to extinguish the fire. In fact, it is best that you don’t.
Our emotions come from the way we think or interpret any situation. It all happens so fast that it seems like the circumstance – that letter from your ex’s lawyer – is the reason you feel horrible.
Before you try to feel better, I want to encourage you to slow down and name how you are feeling. One word only. Here are some ideas:
- broken hearted
Just by doing this small exercise, you become the watcher of your body. It gives you a bit of distance from the emotional experience to give you a bit of clarity as to why you are feeling this way.
Feel the big feelings
Your brain will tell you that the emotion you are experiencing is an emergency that needs to be stopped immediately. But it is not.
I encourage you to focus on the uncomfortable emotion. The emotion is just a vibration in your body and is a normal part of the human experience. It does not need to be fixed. Close your eyes and visualize the feeling.
- Where is it in your body?
- Is it heavy?
- Does it radiate?
- Is it hot or cold?
- Can you give it a colour?
- Is it sharp?
For me, when I experience a trigger, such as a client getting a poor result in court, I get a tightness in my chest that vibrates and radiates into my throat. It makes breathing a bit difficult and my heart rate increase. I call it panic, and I remind myself “oh ya, this is the part when my body perceives danger“.
I used to eat chocolate and drink wine to make it go away. That was when I believed that emotions were emergencies. Now I let it be there and let it vibrate through me.
But here’s the thing, when you don’t feel the emotion all the way through, it waits for you. It would be there after the chocolate hit wore off. And I would have an extra layer of shame for overeating.
Triggers create poisonous thoughts
The circumstance actually does not create the emergency emotion. It is your interpretation of what happened that is really the problem. This is the best news I have for you because you are completely in control of the way you think about any triggering circumstance.
But you will never access the poisonous thought creating your emergency emotion until you feel that emotion all the way through. So let it rip my friends. Feel all the feelings and remind your brain that you are not going to die. It’s just an emotion.