We are feeling beings.
Emotions are like a weather system; they are always passing through. Stay aware and recognize your emotions. Your emotions belong to you. Pay attention to your feelings. If you do not take care of your feelings, they will become very troubling.
My friend Phil asked me to share some of the best ways to care for your emotions.
First, never ever take a feeling at “face value”. What you see at first is only the face of an emotion - anger, sad, embarrassed, anxious, etc. There is always more behind that surface of a feeling.You need to Unmask it. Get to know what is behind the surface of the feeling.
Be curious and ask yourself questions about your feelings. Do an investigation. I promise you will make discoveries. As you get better at investigating feelings, you can do this with others, but for now, practice with yourself.
What brought this feeling to the surface? What happened?
What story am I telling myself about what happened? Am I willing to hear any other point of view? I may not be able to because my own emotion is demanding all the space in me.
Does this emotion want me to take action? What action?
If the feeling is very strong you may want to blast your emotion at someone.
Is this action the way I want to behave? Will this action solve the problem?
(These actions are usually crazy, and not going to solve the problem.)
Our emotions are terrible at problem solving!
This is where you step in and take care of your feeling.
Offer your feeling some better ideas about how to solve the problem. Is there a way I can care for this feeling, address the problems that have brought on this feeling?
Are there actions I would like to consider?
What is familiar about this situation from my past? Did I take good care of my emotions back then in a previous situation? Could I do better now?
Here is an example of how it works. I was at the pool, waiting for a lane to open to swim laps. When a lane opened, someone from another lane, went and took the new lane. He pointed to his old lane and said “Swim in the that one!” The lane was against a wall with a ladder hanging over it.
I was fuming angry.
But I jumped in the water and started swimming as I did not think a fight with this guy would resolve the swim lane issue.
I was angry while swimming.
I asked myself if I came to the pool to be angry or to relax?
Then could I please let go of the anger and enjoy my swim?
That worked for 2 strokes.
Back to anger.
Remember I came to relax.
How about if I think about ways to deal with this asshole later, when I am done swimming.
Would you like to call him an asshole? Would that make you feel better?
Do you come to the pool wanting to call people names?
He is an asshole, but I don’t think it will actually make you feel better to call him names.
I understand what he did was wrong, but what is it about this that makes me so angry?
Well, I experience quite a bit of male dominance around the gym. Some of the men are very rude around waiting their turn on equipment.
So this sort of thing happens here.
How would you like to address that problem? What do you need?
I started thinking about ways to change my gym schedule, and to purchase some equipment for home. I also thought of some things I will say if someone crowds my space at the gym from now on.
Did this feeling have a past?
Yes, this sort of dominance and pecking order was very common in elementary school. Can I remember when this happens that old feeling and take better care of the situation now?
So I came up with ways to address the feeling, I bought some home equipment, I acknowledged that some days I don’t want to deal with this behavior in the gym. I picked my swim times for the least crowded times. I decided to not let anyone crowd my space at the gym. I asked them to please back up and let them know when to expect me to be finished on a machine. But I do not give up my space.
I feel more empowered. I don’t even feel angry when someone crowds my space, I just step in and say, you need to wait your turn. This anger in the pool led me to address something that had become a series of problems.
While I was busy being curious and interviewing my feeling, the guy in the pool, randomly grabbed another good lane for me and offered it up with an apology. (I didn’t even expect that.)
Just blasting the guy in the the pool in the moment would not have allowed me to really and truly address the source of the feeling I was having. It wouldn’t have helped me with my feeling.
Before you share your feelings with someone, there needs to be a signal, an agreement that you are both willing to “go there”.
Ways to care for each others' feelings.