Tag: feelings

All About Feelings

Feelings are a tricky thing. There’s a lot of talk out there about getting in touch with them, understanding where they stem from, and knowing when and how to communicate them effectively. However, this can be hard to do if you’re not sure where to begin your journey toward emotional awareness.

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

We live in a world that values positivity. Everywhere you look, you see signs reading “positive vibes only.” There are hundreds of books and articles available to us that focus on how to find happiness, joy, satisfaction in your work, and everlasting love. But we’re rarely armed with the information we need to understand, process, and communicate negative emotions.

As you’re working to be more emotionally aware, it’s important to understand that sometimes you’ll experience negative feelings – and that’s okay. The sooner we acknowledge those feelings, understand where they’re coming from, and talk about them honestly, the sooner we’ll be able to feel “okay” about not feeling “okay.”

Do You Know What You’re Feeling?

Another common thing we do when looking at our feelings is to mis-name them. We may feel content but call it happy. We may feel annoyed and call it angry. Generalizing specific emotions can be harmful, and it puts you at a disadvantage when trying to better understand how you feel (and why you feel that way).

Next time you’re experiencing a feeling (positive or negative), describe it inwardly. Be as specific as possible. For example, if you’re having a rough morning, and feel as though everything’s working against you to get out the door to work, you may think you feel angry. But are you?

More than likely, you’re experiencing many feelings simultaneously. You may feel annoyed that your alarm clock didn’t go off, hurt that your significant other didn’t wake you when they noticed you weren’t out of bed at your usual time, frustrated that you can’t find your keys – there are many different feelings happening all at once, and each are caused by something else.

Communication Is Key

Once you start taking time to truly give a name to each feeling you experience, you’re better prepared to communicate them to the people
around you. When entering these conversations, especially with loved ones, it’s important to remain honest and calm. Know that you are not your feelings. If you feel hurt by a partner, communicate that while you’re not always hurt, you feel that way right now.

Embracing the idea that feelings are moments that come and go can help you to express how you feel without boiling over or pushing others away. You can also be open about why you feel a certain way. This can often help couples reach a sense of understanding with one another and accept each other’s feelings without judgement. It can also help to reduce negative feelings toward one another in the future.


Dealing with Loss

Well, everyone can master a grief, but he who has one. – William Shakespeare

We have all been there, a loss of one kind or another; the death of a friend or family member, the passing of a beloved pet, an unexpected tragedy such as a flood or hurricane  that alters our journey forever.  You may be experiencing a divorce or the end of a long term relationship.   Whatever the loss, it can be downright torturous to get on with living.  Most of us veer towards the familiar and when you experience a demise, change crashes in on your life uninvited.  But there are tools that can help you navigate through the painful terrain of grieving and dealing with loss.

First and foremost, don’t deny your feelings, otherwise they will end up somewhere in your body and wreak havoc.  It is normal to feel a profound sadness, to cry or wail, and to experience a sense of hopelessness. You don’t have to make excuses for your emotions, they are uniquely yours and everyone copes with loss differently.  You may feel utterly overwhelmed, angry or unequivocally fearful. When a person or family pet or companion passes it can flood you with memories and the void can feel physical.  Or the ending of a marriage or partnership can produce tremendous grief.  Acknowledge the surge of emotions with the same empathy you would give others who have experienced loss.  This is not the time to be stoic and keep a stiff upper lip.

When you are ready, share your feelings, talk to friends and other family members who are good at listening.  What you don’t need is a list of things you ‘should’ do.  Open up to people who can actively listen, that means they’re not the ones talking. Stave off those who try to cram unwanted advice down your throat, although they may have your best interest at heart, they are not you, they have not walked your path.  Now is the time to be present with what you are experiencing.  Facing your feelings helps you to come to terms with them, to put them in perspective, to shake hands with them and realize they are part of the process and part of you.      

If we bottle up our feelings they fester and eventually, like bad wine, turn sour and are that much harder to swallow.  Open the door to your heart, let the contents spill out to those you feel emotionally safe confiding in. Get out of your thinking mind and into your feelings.  The mind tries to rationalize or distract you or even judge you, which will not help your progress towards wholeness.  Perhaps write how you’re feeling down or pen a letter to the deceased or journal your experience without censoring your words.  Let the paper absorb your sadness or resentment then either keep it or burn it, depending on what will honor your emotional well-being.

If there is no one that can help you unburden your emotions, seek out a support group or a counselor.  In fact, there is an array of bereavement groups that could help you with your specific loss and even those with a plethora of family and friends can benefit from the solidarity of those who have suffered similar experiences (although let me be clear every situation is different and don’t compare your grief response to another).  Find the right one for you, one you can feel comfortable in expressing yourself honestly and without judgement.

Keep some semblance of a routine. If you like to walk in the morning or evening, perhaps try to keep that healthy habit up.  Or maybe you love to water your flowers every morning or make coffee and read a book or listen to the news or watch the squirrels dart in the trees.  Whatever it is, by sticking to a few simple constants, you will create a sense of stability that not everything is lost, not everything has changed.

Try to eat as healthy as you can and stay rested.  If you have lost your appetite try eating smaller meals more frequently, foods that are easily digested.  Get a little exercise to help you sleep, ask a friend to walk with you or perhaps cycling helps clear your mind. If you have a yoga practice, this can be very soothing during times of duress.  Taking little measures to maintain your health, will help you cope with the loss. It is okay to step away from the sadness for a bit and indulge yourself in an activity that quiets the pain, if even temporarily. This is not the same as ignoring or escaping your feelings, it is rather an attempt to bring your life back to balance. Throughout the day we experience a gamut of emotions, allow yourself a reprieve from the painful ones.

Breathe, and give yourself time to grieve, be kind to yourself.  Try to not self-impose deadlines for when you should feel better.  Know that it is a process, just like learning how to be a parent or how to keep your relationship healthy, grieving a loss takes time. Albert Einstein once said, “It’s not that I am so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”  Allow the wounds of loss their proper healing time and eventually the pain will subside.


6 Steps to Shifting Negative Feelings

From time-to-time, we all have feelings crop up that we would rather not to dwell on. Whether that’s worry, anxiety, anger, sadness, or just all-out negativity. However, it can be difficult to let these feelings go and move forward with a more positive outlook. Negative feelings are a part of living, and they occur for a reason. But they also have a tendency to linger longer than we prefer them to because choosing negativity can often be self-perpetuating and, sometimes easier than shifting into positivity. So, how can we accomplish this shift? Practice these six steps to get started.

1. Focus on the issue you want to feel better about.

 

This can be anything, big or small. Maybe somebody cut you off on your morning drive to the office and it’s been bothering you. Maybe you’re going through a stressful time in your personal life and you need a break from constantly feeling overwhelmed. Whatever the issue is, take a moment to focus on it completely.

2. Allow yourself to feel.

 

Whatever emotions crop up as a result of this issue, allow yourself to feel them. Take the feeling into your body by putting your hands on your body palm to body, wherever you feel it most. This will allow these feelings to expand throughout your body which will deepen your experience of what you are feeling

3. Ask yourself the following three questions. Remember that both yes and no are acceptable answers.

 

Am I willing to let this feeling go?

Am I willing to allow this feeling to be here?

Am I willing to welcome this feeling?

4. Now ask yourself:

 

 

If I am not willing to let go of this feeling?

Then ask:

Would I rather have this feeling, or would I rather be free from it?

If you’d rather have this feeling, explore how come you’re resistant to letting it go.

5. Ask yourself, “When will I be willing to let this go?”

 

This is an invitation to let the feeling go now.

6. Repeat.

 

Maybe now isn’t the time to let the feeling go. Repeat these steps until you feel comfortable and ready.

These steps are a start to acknowledging your feelings, giving yourself permission to feel them deeply, and then allowing yourself to let them go. You are fully in charge of how you respond to the feelings you have, and you always have choices on whether or not you want to let them go or keep them.


Respecting Differences

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I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Presidential Election and how to respectfully handle the opinions of people in our world. The American Psychological Association’s study shows that a little more than half of people surveyed say that the election “is a very or somewhat significant” source of stress for them. From New York to California, fearful, frustrated and anxious clients are expressing their concerns about the campaign and the candidates to their therapists. The prospect of either Trump or Clinton winning the election has spurred contentious debate. By Wednesday morning, we will know who our President-Elect is; and while many will be rejoicing, others will be quite upset. It has been an election unlike any other – filled with tension and anger.

This is a really big deal to most of us, so, no matter what the outcome, avoid inflammatory statements and behaviors. Respect those around you who may not feel the same way that you feel, and in fact, will likely be very disappointed. Remember a recent post about there being more than one “right”? We all feel that we are “right”. The person that you are sitting next to at work or at the dinner table would appreciate the same level of respect that you would like if you were in their shoes.

We can show who we are as individuals when we disagree. Author Bryant McGill wrote, “grace in conflict is a study in love.” We have the ability to be that person – to be graceful, to be who we are and not let anything get the best of us. We can’t expect any one else to change, but we can. By our changing, we will change the environment. I often say, “Our actions are the way we define ourselves to others.” How do we want to affect the environment?

“Culture makes people understand each other better. And if they understand each other better in their soul, it is easier to overcome the economic and political barriers. But first they have to understand that their neighbour is, in the end, just like them, with the same problems, the same questions.”  ~ Paulo Coelho


Emotions and Your Body

P1020568Have you ever experienced physical pain or discomfort with no apparent physical cause? For example, dreading doing something and after thinking about it for a while, having a headache or stomach upset? What we experience as physical pain in the absence of any injury or physical cause may stem from our emotions. Our thoughts and feelings are so powerful that they can manifest in our body. We become aware of this process when we feel discomfort. Emotions somatized can actually be the cause of our organs and systems not functioning properly.

Some examples of how emotions can manifest in the body:

  • Anxiety/Fear may be experienced in the body in many different ways. Often these feelings will affect the adrenal gland and the kidneys. Of course they can affect other parts of the body as well.

Possible causes: Lacking in confidence and security. If you dispute irrational thinking and keep your thoughts in present time rather than negative futures, you will eliminate anxiety and fear from your life.

  • Sadness often will affect the heart and the thymus gland.

Possible causes: Holding on to negative experiences, the inability to “let go.” Letting go of negative thoughts and past experiences will allow joy into one’s life and sadness will shift. Refer to the post Letting Go for more on this.

  • Depression often will affect the way we think, our head and brain.

Possible causes: A need for acceptance, self-consciousness; unable to see path; over-thinking or over-feeling with the perception of having no choice in life. Truly accepting yourself with all of your flaws and strengths decrease your need for outside approval. Practice seeing yourself as one with infinite possibilities.

  • Grief often will affect the liver, gall bladder and can cause many other challenges in the body.

Possible causes: Denying and/or not releasing grief,

  • Anger often will affect the liver, which cleanses our blood and stores our emotions.

Possible causes: Not releasing anger, bitterness, or resentment; not allowing forgiveness. By acknowledging experiencing, honoring and releasing these negative feelings you will be free of anger and able to allow joy in.

  • Stress in general can affect all organs, depending upon the person.

Possible causes: Imbalance in one or more aspects of life. Refer to the post, Life Balance, for more information and how to create balance.

  • Feeling stuck or confusion usually affects the throat area.

Possible causes: Having something to say but fearful to speak the truth, which results in feeling “stuck.”

Can affect: Gall bladder (for example, gall stones). The gall bladder acts as a passage from the liver to the small intestines.

Possible causes: Self-resentment, not allowing yourself to speak your truth.

Areas of the body that can alert us to emotional causes of pain:

  • Left side of body – represents feminine energy. Ask yourself are you denying your feminine qualities or ability to receive.
  • Right side of body – represents masculine energy. Ask yourself are you denying your masculine qualities or ability to take action.
  • Lungs – might indicate an inability to speak one’s truth.
  • Abdomen/gut – caused by the unconscious taking in of other peoples’ emotions.
  • Shoulder issues – the feeling of being overburdened by the challenges of others.
  • Hips – the feelings of insecurity and fear create the inability to move forward.
  • Knees – the lack of self-respect, often is the cause of knee issues.
  • Lower back – resentment rooted in the belief, that there is no one to help you and your burdens feel too great.
  • Cervical spine (neck) – linked to the inability or fear of being flexible in life.

We can use the presentation of symptoms to check in with ourselves and ask whether the pain or discomfort we are feeling could have an emotional cause, rather than a physical cause. Spending some time on releasing heavy emotions can help lessen—or completely resolve—physical symptoms.

Try using:

  • Meditation or yoga to quiet the mind and provide a sense of grounding, lightness, or peace.
  • Emotional Freedom Technique (known as EFT or Tapping), which involves tapping your fingertips on pressure points on the face and body to release emotions.
  • Journaling. The simple act of recording thoughts and feelings on paper can provide awareness, release, and resolution.
  • Counseling. Sometimes, just having an impartial person to hear you can provide great relief.
  • Coaching. Sometimes in combination with counseling, coaching will teach you the action steps you want to move forward.

Emotional Awareness

Desert

Let’s say elevating your level of positivity and happiness is a daily intention for you. You utilize mantras, affirmations, and/or other tools on a continuous basis. You are letting go of unsupportive thoughts and adopting supportive ones. But there are many moments, or even days, that you are far from a state of bliss. What gives?

Well, we’re not robots, so it’s perfectly normal to experience unexpected emotions even after a lifetime of positive focus. No one is a happy, smiley person 24/7. Nor should that necessarily be the goal, nor a marker for successful personal growth. A more helpful goal is to achieve emotional awareness, or being conscious of how we are feeling and why.

Here are some points to keep in mind regarding our emotional experiences:

Emotions are not destinations. They are road signs. Your emotions are a result of your thoughts. So if you recognize you are in an uncomfortable emotional state, take a look at what you are thinking. For example, if you’re feeling despair the thoughts creating that are likely defeat, hopelessness, and powerlessness. Once you’re alert to your thoughts, you can start shifting them to ones you consider more positive and higher energy. “Happy people” are not always happy and “unhappy people” are not always unhappy…they just engage in more of that particular kind of self-talk and, therefore, resonate the corresponding emotion.

All emotions are the same. Yes, you read that right. Emotions are neither “good” nor “bad.” They are just different from each other, and some we prefer over others. However, being able to identify what kind of emotion we are experiencing gives us the opportunity to shift our thinking in another direction. We can create more of the feelings we like (referred to as “positive” feelings) by changing or shifting the language we use in self-talk from words that create emotions we feel badly about to words that create feelings we feel positively about.

All emotions are useful. Emotions like despair, fear, anger, and frustration may be uncomfortable and undesirable, but they are signals that something isn’t sitting well with us. Uncomfortable emotions can nudge us into awareness and can help us define what we want in life. As we work to move on to preferable emotions, we may see beneficial results we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to experience in the absence of that initial unwelcome feeling.

Recognize and accept all of your emotions for what they are. Emotions are part of the human experience. Take comfort in knowing it’s ok to feel unwelcome emotions, and feel confident that you have the power to change your thoughts, and therefore your emotions and your experience, at any time.

 


Express Your Feelings Today

I have invited Yaz Headley of http://thecompletelife.com from the UK to guest blog on my blog for your pleasure:

We can have so many joys and regrets in our lives.

Bronnie Ware wrote a book on “The top five regrets of the dying”. One of the regrets she found was that they often wished they had the courage to express their feelings. So often we bottle up our feelings and think we can maybe, fully express ourselves another day. Will that day ever arise or are we meant to seize the day today, everyday.

Expressing a feeling does not have to be hurtful or painful to another. Expressing feelings can be kind, generous and simply practical. Expressing a feeling helps us to understand how we ourselves feel, something we so often forget to do.

If you do anything today, express at least one feeling not just to yourself but to another. Expressing your feelings is about living and savouring your interpretation of the life you are living. The other four regrets she found were wishing they had chosen to be happier, work less, being more authentic and stayed in touch with friends.

Ware, B., 2012. The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing, Hay House UK.

©2012 Yaz.


The Holistic World of Music

Music can provide feelings of love, inspiration, relaxation and joy. Which is why some people use music to set a mood. Others will have their favorite symphony playing while they study for exams, and let’s not forget dancing to your favorite song as a form of meditation! Yes music does inspire and provoke us to be who we are in a to the fullest of our abilities, creating mindfulness.

I imagine that music plays many roles in your life as it does in mine. It allows others to have a sense of who we are and what we believe. Consider the ways that music has influenced your life. Music has the power to shift our feelings from joy to sorrow in a split second. It can bring us back to memories we forgot we had or act as a muse and bring us forward to the world we have yet to create. Music has many purposes and abilities. It can be used for healing and communication as both Don Campbell and Tom Kenyon mentor us. They both have schools that teach ways of using one’s voice for healing. There are degrees in Music Therapy offered at many Universities.

American Indians and many African and South American Shamans have been using the drumbeat for centuries to elevate shamans to other dimensions. Yes music is a very powerful source. So the next time you are sitting with your partner, or by yourself for that matter, and you want to change your mood, feelings, or thoughts, just listen to music and notice the difference in your body mind and spirit!

Music can be a beautiful form of meditation, as I speak about in this video:


Life and Loss

Most of us believe that relationships are supposed to be permanent, yet loss and grieving is a theme in our lives. Inevitably along our path someone dies or will be left behind. Loss of a relationship plays a significant part in all of our lives, as it is part of life.

Often we define ourselves by our relationships; we believe something is wrong with us if we do not keep our friends for life. What I have learned is that relationships come and go throughout our lives. When someone dies, leaves us, moves away or becomes estranged, it can feel confusing, sad, overwhelming, we might feel a bit lost for a time. The loss of the relationship is an opportunity for us to grow and get in touch with our authentic selves; to learn and understand that we are not our relationships.

In all relationships there is some degree of dependency. Whether it is your relationship with your life-partner, mother, father, sibling, friend. When a relationship ends, you will find yourself forced to undertake tasks that the other person used to do; or perhaps you will be taking care of their will. In all cases with loss comes new experiences, some enjoyable some scary, some just a nuisance. What is wonderful is that it is through these tasks that a new sense of self will evolve.

Whenever we let go of someone a psychological death occurs and we want to allow ourselves to grieve for our loss. Death comes in many forms; it may be an aspect of ourselves, our youthful qualities, our health, or a dream that is no more. Or it may be a relationship that is ended by death or distance.

With every death there is rebirth; something of value is growing inside us. How we react to the constant changes that occur in our lives through our relationships is probably the only aspect of a relationship that we have choice about.


Music – a Powerful Resource

Music is a very powerful source. I imagine that music plays many roles in your life as it does in mine.

It allows others to have a sense of who we are and what we believe. Consider the ways that music has influenced your life.

Music has the power to shift our feelings from joy to sorrow in a split second. It can bring us back to memories we forgot we had or forward to the world we have yet to create. Music can provide inspiration, relaxation and passion…