What is Your Relationship With Your Emotions?

April 29, 2008 at 1:33 pm | Posted in health, self development/motivation | Leave a comment
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I’ve just received a newsletter from Mona Grayson, who is a facilitator of Byron Katie’s ‘The Work’. I found it really enlightening and like to share it with you.

What if your feeling emotions were as essential to life as drinking water?

What if expressing them were as ordinary as going to the bathroom or getting sleep?

Have you noticed that there are some human behaviors that you accept as necessary (and valuable) parts of life, and others that are seen as problems?

It seems to be okay with most people that they’ll need to eat a few times a day…

But when it comes to feeling depressed, even 5 minutes of that can seem too much.

Emotions are part of the experience of being human, and yet as a species we tend to want to avoid certain feelings.

Here are some of the recent questions I’ve received:

– “How can we prevent the escalation of negative emotions?”

– “How can I stop being so angry?”

– “Why can’t I get my anxiety under control?”

Let’s look at each question one at a time and explore some of the underlying beliefs and look at some different perspectives.

1) How can we prevent the escalation of negative emotions?

A couple of years ago when I mentioned something being negative to a fellow inquiry lover, she said to me, “It’s negative, is it true?”

At the time I kind of rolled my eyes and was frustrated that anything I said could be held up to that question, “Is it true?”

But years (and plenty of inquiry) later, I’ve opened up more to the idea that perhaps the idea that some things are negative and others are positive – isn’t really serving me. Especially around emotions.

So with sincerity and an invitation for you to find out what’s true in your own life, I offer these questions to you below. Answer them only if you’re feeling willing to understand yourself and your emotions better:

– What payoff are you getting for thinking that there are negative emotions?

– Why do you want to live your life believing that some emotions are negative?

– How would you treat people differently (including yourself) if you didn’t believe that there were negative emotions?

– And if emotions weren’t negative, would you still want to prevent them?

Sometimes emotions can be painful, just as it can be painful to be very hungry, or to “hold it” for long time when you have to go to the bathroom. But that doesn’t mean that they’re negative.

If you don’t like being painfully hungry, look at the beliefs that keep you from eating sooner. If you don’t like being painfully depressed, what beliefs lead you to feel so depressed?

2. How can I stop being so angry?

Consider these similar questions:

How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?

How do you keep a wave upon the sand?

How do you hold a moon beam in your hand?

You may recognize these questions from a song in the movie, The Sound of Music.

I’m sharing them here because they suggest catching and keeping things that aren’t meant to be controlled.

Clouds aren’t meant to be pinned down. They belong in the sky floating where they wind up floating. Waves aren’t meant to stay on the sandy shores.
There’s an ebb and flow that they’re meant to follow.

And moonbeams? Think they’re meant to be captured and held in your hand? Hardly.

Yet, when it comes to painful emotions which are just as free-flowing as clouds, waves, and moonbeams, we have the crazy idea that we’re meant to stop them from happening.

Asking the question, “How can I stop being so angry,” is like saying, “How can I stop the wind? How can I prevent the sun from making heat?”

When the wind is blowing, that’s what is. When the clouds are billowing, that’s what is. When there’s anger to be felt, that’s what is.

Instead of being at war with anger and trying to stop it from showing up in your life, what would happen if sought to understand it and appreciate it for what it is?

3. Why can’t I get my anxiety under control?

When I taught 3rd grade, this sentiment was expressed to me in a slightly different way. Instead of parents wanting to get their anxiety under control, they were expressing the desire to get their children under control.

They wanted their children to behave differently, to follow the rules, to stop getting in trouble.

I could understand their desire to control their children. I had tried controlling their children in my
classroom too.

But I realized early on in my years as a teacher that controlling my students wasn’t the solution to my problem.

What I actually found to work best was aligning myself with them. The kids who were most disruptive, I took them under my wing and I became friends with them.

I talked with them. I listened to them. I walked with them. I sat with them. I put my hand on their back or shoulder while I was walking by and looking at their work. I genuinely cared for them.

It ceased to be about “What can I do to control this child?” and instead it became, “How can I connect with him?”

This is the approach I work on taking with my own emotions now. Instead of trying to control my emotions, I go for connecting and listening and understanding more.

That’s why I love the exercise I’ve shared with you about Facilitating Your Emotions.

Reminder: How to facilitate your emotions

1. Mentally sit across the table from one of your emotions.

2. Listen to what it has to say. Write down everything. Don’t censor anything. Your only job is to witness and listen.

3. Look over the list of beliefs that your emotion shared with you. Select one to question.

4. Ask your emotion the 4 questions and guide it through the turnarounds.

If you’re doing this exercise alone, you will be the facilitator and your emotion will be the client. You will play both roles: facilitator and client.

If you’re working with someone else, you will be the emotion and the other person will be the facilitator.

What’s Next?

When I first started sharing these suggestions with you for facilitating your emotions, I mentioned that there would be a special opportunity for you to work with me one-on-one to get some in depth support facilitating your emotions.

I’ll be telling you more about how you can get some focused attention on your emotions later this week.

Until then…

Remember to consider whether or not it’s actually serving you to believe that some of your emotions are negative.

Consider that feeling your emotions may be as vital to you as drinking water, eating food, and going to the bathroom.

Consider that it’s not about getting your emotions under control, but about understanding and connecting with them.

What happens over and over as people get more connected to their emotions and understand them more, is that they experience more enjoyable emotions and feel more empowered in their lives.

Are you ready for a new relationship with your emotions?



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