Have you ever had emotions get the best of you? Maybe anxiety, worry, stress, or doubt? How about anger, jealousy, hurt, or fear? At work, have they impacted your behaviors, communications, or relationships? Have you carried them home?
I was with a client the other day who was in an anxious state of mind about a situation in her life that is demanding a lot of her time and attention. She felt a little trapped, a little scared, and a little unseen. I could see that what she really was longing for was to feel like she mattered.
Her signature strength and gift in life is being of service and caring for others. This strength overplayed, however, causes her to not pay attention to what she really needs.
What if her anxiety was really just her heart throwing a temper tantrum? What if our lower resonance emotions—the ones we don’t like to feel—are actually just our hearts and souls saying, ‘Pay Attention!’ What if blame is just your heart afraid of not being perfect? What if stress is the suffocation of the soul?
So often we look externally for the source of those emotions. We blame someone or something for causing us to experience them. When we point a finger at someone or something else, there are three fingers pointing back at ourselves. There is something inward for us to be curious about and play with!
So, back to my client who was feeling trapped, scared, and unseen. She won’t feel free until she frees herself. She won’t stop being scared until she shines the light on what is scaring her. She won’t feel seen by others until she sees herself. Finally, she won’t see how much she matters to others until she matters enough to herself to nurture her own underlying needs.
Our lower resonance emotions (as opposed to ‘negative’ emotions which carry a judgment) can go on spin cycle because our heads get in the way. It’s our threat response speaking louder than our hearts, our souls, or our guts. Physiologically this is actually true—it’s our survival instinct kicking in and many of us have never learned to respond vs. react to our emotions.
What are you not paying attention to in your life? What is your stress, anxiety, anger, frustration, or hurt screaming at you explore? What if you were able to routinely process and overcome these feelings that stall your progress or get you stuck in life or your career? What if we were to ‘play’ with our emotions with the curiosity and imagination of a child?
Game Rules – Do’s and Don’ts:
Don’t judge your emotion as good or bad or right or wrong. Emotions just are—they don’t make you a good or bad person.
Don’t send your emotion to its room. Do not tell it to suck it up buttercup. We’re done stuffing them down! Remember, we want to pay attention and invite them out to play.
Don’t tell it not to worry or to calm down. That’s like telling an emotion to not emote! That’s minimizing it.
Don’t indulge the emotion by taking it out for ice cream.
Don’t excuse or justify its behavior by deflecting responsibility and pointing to something external. That’s like adding fuel to its fire and makes you powerless to change your reaction to the situation.
Do create a visual of some part of your being and envision what it is doing (i.e. your heart throwing a temper tantrum, your fear cowering in a corner, your soul being suffocated.)
Do pay attention! Get curious. Listen.
Get curious about what is important in the situation. What value might you not be honoring? What are you wanting more or less of in your life? For my client, she acknowledged she was ‘at choice’ in the situation, that the situation saddened her, and that she could define boundaries for self-care without guilt.
Finally, how can we be a nurturing adult to our inner child and teach it to learn and grow? Think of it as inviting the emotion to play a challenging, educational game that will change your life! From an empowered place (rather being controlled by your emotion,) you can now assess your options. What’s just one small thing you could do to change it? What else? What do you want and need right now? How will you claim it?
So stop giving emotions a bad rap. Empower yourself to listen to their important message. Invite them out to play!