Hi! And welcome to almost April.
Let’s take a giant breath together, shall we? Breathe in, then sllllooooowly let it out—taking longer on the exhale than you did on the inhale (this actually slows our heart rate, it’s a great tool to use any time we feel stressed, anxious, overwhelmed…).
Speaking of emotions, let’s speak of them. All of them. Let’s feel all the feels.
Because right now we’ve got lots of them. And they are everywhere (they always have been, we just aren’t used to noticing them quite so much). And everyone around us is having them, too. And these lots and lots of feelings? They feel BIG. Bigger than before.
And sometimes these very big and very everywhere emotions feel like they are going to swamp us. They feel so big that if we hold still long enough to feel them they will pull us down and not let us go. We worry that we won’t be able to stop feeling angst, panic, or despair (and yet we never worry about getting stuck feeling bubbly, tranquil or jubilant, do we?).
The truth is—naming, feeling and expressing our emotions is one of our greatest superpowers.
Why? Great question.
To answer that let’s go to Disneyland (okay, so let’s go to Disneyland in our minds, because that’s the closest we’re going to get for a while). And at Disneyland, imagine riding It’s a Small World. And as you are sitting in the boat on the ride, see yourself looking up at all of the scenery—all of the characters and all of the countries and listening to all of the lyrics in all of the languages (Yep. Now you are going to be humming that tune all day long. Sorry about that). And what we don’t notice is that there is a track underneath the boat pulling us along, pausing us, turning us and directing us.
We think we are in charge of what we see, but actually it’s the underwater track that is guiding our experience. Totally powerful and completely out of view unless we take the time to peer over the edge of the boat to see it.
Our emotions are our underwater track. They direct every action we take. There is always an emotion that comes before any action. Always.
Think of the toddler who seemingly out of the blue hits the kiddo standing next to them. First, they felt something—they probably felt threatened that their toy might be taken.
Think of the middle schooler who, for what seems like no reason at all, lashes out at their best friend about where they sat for lunch—they possibly felt heartbroken that the person they have a crush on likes their BFF instead.
Think of us here at home, when we lose it as we hear a whiny voice say “I don’t want to…” –realistically it’s about our feeling trapped, incompetent or exhausted.
Feelings come first, actions happen after.
Which means, when we know what we feel, we get to decide how to act. When we know what we feel, we can observe the emotion, instead of getting taken for a ride by it. When we know what we feel, our boat is ours to steer. We get to pull it up from its anchored track and chart our own course.
And that is a superpower.
So let’s feel our feelings and figure out how to put this superpower into action.
Step 1: Notice Them.
Oh, hey, something is going on here. I’m feeling something.
Step 2: Name them.
Not just mad, sad, or glad, but emotions like angst, despondent or euphoric. (need a little help for this part? No problem. I’ve got you covered. Click here.)
Step 3: Find them.
Where in your body do they show up? Is envy a pit in your stomach or a pressing on your chest or a temple-pounding headache?
Step 4: Size them.
No matter how big emotions feel, notice how the rest of your body is fine. From pinky toe to earlobe, you are exceptional, except for the one area where this emotion showed up. See? You are bigger than anything you feel, no matter how enormous it seems. (note: this can also be step 1. Sometimes an emotion is easier to notice in our bodies rather than in our brains.)
Step 5: Share them.
Say it out loud. Let people know your emotions. “I feel ______.” Not I am _____. Not I feel ______ because you did ______. Stick to I feel ______. These are important distinctions (and if you’d like to know why, let me know). Feel like it might be a bit more fun to share with others not in the same house as you are? Hop right on over here to talk about them on our social spring facebook group page.
Step 6: Express them.
How can you show what an emotion feels like? Give it a color. Or a temperature. Or a weather pattern. Give it a kitchen dance party. Paint it a picture. Write it a bawdy poem (or a kindergarten-appropriate one). Find a way to express your emotion in a way that doesn’t trample yourself or the people around you. Saying that irate is burnt orange is better than yelling, right?
Step 7: Thank them.
Yep. Thank your emotions for showing up. Even fear. Thank you fear for being here—now I know this is important to me and I can be curious about how I can learn from it.
Step 8: Pair them.
Wine and cheese. Brats and baseball. If your emotion feels ‘dark’ think about what balances it on the ‘light’ side. Then find a way to feel that. Uncertain pairs nicely with calm or peace or safety. Taking a bath helps soothe the soul. Feeling uncertain? Jump in the tub.
Do you need all eight steps every time? Naaah. Use the ones that work for you. Use the ones that help you see how you feel and help you respond, not react. Want to use all eight? Great. Here’s a cheat sheet to cut, tape and hang all over the house, so everyone can practice.
See? Superpowers everywhere. And no matter the waters ahead, you are the captain of your ship.
Want to talk more about emotions? For yourself? For friends and family? The doors of Evolving Parents are open, and I am here for you. We can chat over the phone / FaceTime / zoom for 15, 30 or 50 minute sessions. click right here, or email me firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get connected.
Have family and friends you want to have join us? The more community, the more social, the more love. it’s never too late to sign up here.