You´ve now had an introduction to the range of feelings and information available to you. Now its all about practicing, and bending that awareness to new curves.
By practicing, imagine you’ll be moving up a ladder of consciousness, sharpening your ability to sense what´s happening in you and what’s happening to you, getting access to more productive and healthy levels of thinking and reacting. (check out this video for the perfect metaphor for what you can be able to achieve).
So here’s a few pointers, tips and exercises:
- The difference between feelings and emotions: While emotions are the biological reaction, feelings are the subjective interpretation of (how you give meaning to) the emotion and the feeling therefor defines a lot of your reality. A feeling consists of five parts: a need, a physical sensation, an impuls to act, a perception and a sense of meaning and direction (Greenberg, 2015). It is the conscious uncoupling of these elements that create health, self mastery and progress.
- Interpretations: Remember, feelings are subjective stuff extra grande! That means, if you’re feeling it, it is real. But it might be a tertiary or secondary feeling you are feeling, which can be defined as “how you feel about what you really feel, and when actions and communication has secondary or tertiary fuel, it is seldom understood with the compassion you actually deserves. And by the way, it creates conflicts and division along the way. One example. You receive an e-mail with some content you don’t really like, approve of or agree with. Let´s say you easily and rapidly reacts by dismissing the content, the credibility and the one who sent its you might reply annoyed or feel provoked. In turn, after a lunch break, you might second-guessing your reaction and start feeling guilty or ashamed. All in all, not the best outcome of the day. By noticing and interpreting your reactive patterns in a more conscious way, you’ll be able to reroute from the emotional and unproductive roller coaster of the secondary and tertiary feelings and “motivators”.
- What makes us interpret and react in a more primary authentic way? In general there are five keys to a healthy and productive brain (what you eat, your sleep quality, exercise, mindfulness and learning new stuff). In addition to these long-term strategies and solutions, it is all about noticing and having the courage to not be in control, know entirely what is happening and daring to be personal about it. Using I-communication and meta-communication is two important strategies for excellent selv management and communication (with spouse, kids or co-workers). If you didn’t see the video in the link above, what I am writing about is like Neo stopping the bullets in Matrix, being able to slow down and notice whats arising in us physically and psychologically. Maybe you sense that annoyance is growing in you, and instead of going all critical on the others (“our amygdala” tend to want to blame others or judge our selves really hard) you stay still and notice that it is actually the primary feeling of anger that is going on. Noticing this, and start taking responsibility for your anger is a another league of self-management and productive contribution. Here are some ways to help you notice more:
- Do not ponder. What we often think is reflection is actually self-criticism and “worst case scenario-thinking”. To much pondering and “grubling” is actually making you more emotionally tangled and trapped. Use the strategies below instead:
- Describe what you are sensing, verbally out loud to your self or someone you trust or write it out on a piece of paper.
- Ask your self the question: what values or needs are being ignored, stepped on or over-used right now? Reflect, and write down different possible answers. Remember, reflecting on important values are according to neuroscience research one of the top 3 strategies for maintaining a healthy mind.
- Comfort your self: Showing self-compassion is a game changer, and while we pretty much are good at understanding and excusing others, we tend to do the opposite with our selves. One way of being self-compassionate is to not dismiss your self as an idiot or other nick names just because your feeling stuff. Start by noticing, and prioritising the minutes that will take you. Ask your self what you need right now (if the answer is unhealthy and bad for you/others, its probably not your primary need right now, be patient and listen to what you need).
- Visualise: If you have a vivid minds eye, imagine your self in a peaceful and safe place and spend time there. Seeing all kinds of nice and calming stuff. It could be a made up place or some place from where you have good memories. Remember, the visual cortex of the brain are older and more developed than the verbal parts, so visualising aren’t a stupid idea.
- Breathe: When you notice strong feelings on the way, or are lucky to have a “sane moment” in a high voltage emotional experience, breath structurally for a few minutes to calm down the stress hijack of your brains executive center! Also try to close your eyes to not further contribute to the “information overload” thats probably going on. One way to breath is to breathe in for 4 seconds, holding for 4 seconds and breathing out for 4 seconds.
- Become present: Notice actual physical sensations and your physical environment. It could be rubbing your index finger and your thumb veeeeery slowly towards each other, almost noticing you finger prints, or it could be studying the weaving of the carpet or the texture of painting. Or go tree-hugging 😀
Best regards, Anders 🙂