How to avoid getting caught up in your feelings?

Around a month or so ago, an idea came to me that I found really useful.

The idea was that situations that emotionally charge us are a reminder to focus on ourselves. Instead of getting caught up in the moment, feeling bad or worrying, take some time to check in with yourself.

Perhaps you were involved in a situation that left you feeling upset. You could ‘go off’ at the other people involved, blame them or get annoyed at yourself.

You could also ask yourself ‘Why is this bothering me?’, ‘What can I do for myself to shift my mood?’ or ‘How can I take responsibility for the part I played in this?’.

Asking these questions assures you’re looking at the situation consciously, taking care of yourself and not focusing on other people.

How to tell if it’s working?

When you’re working on yourself, it can be easy to overlook the progress you’re making. Sometimes it can feel as if nothing has changed.

It’s not until you find yourself in a challenging situation and you are able to manage it so differently compared to in the past, that you realise the work you have been doing is working.

Perhaps, in situations that feel comfortable you used to default to playing small and hiding away. But, now you find yourself speaking up and allowing yourself to be seen and heard even though you feel nervous.

That’s how you know the work is working.

A mindful offload

If you’re someone that likes to vent and offload I think it’s important to be mindful.

Think about things such as:

How many times have I vented to this person about the same issue?

Has anything changed or am I just repeating the same thing over and over again?

Do I want help solving this or just someone to sit and listen?

The answer to those questions might make you realise that you should spend more time solving your problems than you do talking about them. Your answer might also inspire you to ask before you vent instead of dumping on someone and apologising after.

As much as I think it’s totally fine to want someone to just listen without trying to offer advice, I also think that people have the right no not want to hear you talk about your problems, especially when you’ve gotten into the habit of carelessly dumping on someone over and over again.

Wasting ‘good’ advice

Your good advice is wasted on those that just want a listening ear.

It’s easy to know when you don’t want someone to tell you what they think you should do. But how often do you extend that to other people.

Have you ever found yourself giving what you believe is excellent advice only for the person to totally ignore it?

Perhaps you weren’t paying enough attention to understand that they didn’t want advice in the first place.
 

Creating a container for change

I first heard about this idea from Maryam Hasnaa in a class she taught.

When a person dedicates themselves to a particular path, it more often than not requires significant change.

An example of this could be taking space from friends that like to have nights out often. You need space from this because in that environment you’re likely to drink which leaves you feeling unwell the next day and the time it takes to recover feels like a waste. You also might decide that you want to maintain a regular sleep pattern and night routine which you’re unlikely to be committed to when you get home at 2am. Lastly, when your path becomes clear you realise that the pub, bar or club where it’s noisy, crowded and you’re probably spending a lot of money isn’t an environment that supports you.

And so even though no longer engaging in nights out may show up as you taking space from certain people, it’s not so much about the people at all, it’s about you and what you need.

Another example is leaving your job. Let’s say you work a very full on and at times stressful job that requires a lot from you. When you’re committed to something, in order to focus on that, you don’t want unnecessary stress getting in the way. Perhaps at one point the stress was worth it for the money but now you’d rather earn less in a calmer environment. If your finances allow it, you might even take a break from working for a little while.

Both of these examples could be permanent or temporary changes. The point is that when you’re clear about your path shifting your life is mandatory.

I think if we could, we would turn inwards and away from certain responsibilities and obligations. But since that’s not possible we have to create a container where we can focus and commit whilst still engaging in certain aspects of life. And that container becomes sort of sacred which is why we can’t allow everything in our lives to remain.

And if you don’t know where to begin, ask yourself what you would and wouldn’t keep in your life if you could start over whilst still being able to maintain your basic needs (food, shelter etc).

How to work through difficult feelings

When you’re going difficult feelings (or feelings that feel difficult), it’s vital to know what you need in order ton help yourself.

As a teenager, I had no clue and so would just end up overwhelmed with days spent mulling over moments that weren’t important in the grand scheme. Although i used to journal, it was very problem based and essentially just a ramble of fear and overwhelm which didn’t really benefit me.

Recently I had some difficult feelings come up. I’m at a point where I can sit with the feelings without getting carried away. I then find helpful ways to work through the feelings. Everything I do is specific to me because I’ve gotten into the habit of learning what I need in these difficult moment.

I recently had a moment of feeling insecure, in hindsight I can see that I had attached a particular outcome of a situation to me feeling good. And so when it didn’t turn out that way I felt the opposite. I wanted to share this because it’s useful to have more specific and less generic examples.

So here’s what I did:

1 Phoned a friend

I had an almost 2 hour phone call with a dear friend. This particular person is someone I trust and find easy to talk to about anything. We spoke about what we’ve been up to, future plans and we laughed a lot. They knew I was feeling a bit off however, I didn’t end up offloading and allowing my inner monologue to run wild because I know that there probably isn’t much this person could say to shift my feelings. Instead, I appreciated them making the time and supporting me. Plus, laughter is really the best medicine and probably helped more than any discussion about how I was feeling and why would have.

2 Did my morning routine in the afternoon

There are three things I do every morning at the moment: a 10 minute singing bowl meditation, my gratitude practice and reading my monthly manifesto (a passage that sets clear intentions for what I’m working on at the moment). I wasn’t feeling great that morning so I didn’t do it but later I remembered how much that simple 15 minutes each morning really helps set the tone for my day and establishes the possibility of how I can feel. And so I just did it in the afternoon and it helped me feel a lot better.

3 EFT

Emotional Freedom Technique also known as tapping is something I have been doing for a few years now. I went through the tapping points and essentially just reminded myself that even though I may feel the way I was feeling it’s not permanent and I’ll be okay. EFT is something that really works wonders for me.

4 Rest

Instead of just putting my feelings aside and getting on with my day I decided to rest. Sometimes the best thing to do is allow yourself to be bare minimum and work on things you need to do later when you’re feeling better. It doesn’t always help to just get on with it, especially when the work isn’t urgent.

Don’t read the comments

Well not yet anyway.

I consume a lot of YouTube and social media content, most of which comes with comments. Something I’ve learnt is that reading the comments before watching the content can totally skew your view.

You might not even realise that your opinion is not your own but simply a mix of the other peoples opinions you’ve just read.

I think it’s important to be able to watch something or look at something and form an opinion about it without knowing what other people think first.

NLP changed me

When I first discovered NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), it felt pretty radical. I was going through a difficult time and it helped to have something new to learn about that could in turn help me. I bought a book, read it and it changed my life.

It wasn’t so different that it felt weird or hard to take it. But it was new enough that I found myself evolving in order to become open to it.

I was a fairly pessimistic person at the time with a lot of unhelpful beliefs so the idea that underlying every behaviour is a positive intention was hard to take in. Yet at the same same, something like if what you are doing isn’t working, do something else felt pretty wonderful.

When you’re going through a challenging period life can feel very rigid and brittle, as though change isn’t quite possible. But then I had this book telling me that I could just ‘do something else’ which almost didn’t even occur to me at the time because I felt so stuck.

And so today lets highlight and celebrate the journeys we’re on, the things we’ve overcome and our ability to embrace life with a little more flow because change is always possible.

Re-learning compromise

If you’re used to always being the one to bend to the needs of another, you might reach a point where you decide to change. Perhaps after an epiphany about the importance of balance.

When it comes to some change, the advice is to go slow and take it bit by bit. However, when it comes to changing a habit of compromising, it’s probably more helpful to go cold turkey.

The reason for this is that no compromise allows you to gain clarity on exactly what you want to do for yourself without taking others into account.

It’s then from a place of clarity of your own needs that you can learn to compromise properly.

Bent out of shape

People that are used to people pleasing know what it’s like to put their own wants and needs aside.

Sometimes, you convince yourself that you’re just compromising to find a balance. This is fine, until you realise that you’re the only one willing to change. This could all be with one person or apply to your life overall.

You can become so used to doing it that the thought of doing anything else feels wrong.

But the thing about bending, is that it can lead to breaking. However, before you reach breaking point you end up bent out of shape. By this I mean, you’ve spent so much time bending (meeting the needs of others) that you’re no longer yourself. You’ve become what you think other people need you to be.

When you’re engaging in the art of compromise which is the overlap in the Venn diagram of 2 people’s needs (or a balanced back and forth of meeting one another’s needs without self-sacrifice), it’s fine. The problem occurs when you consistently go outside of your circle into another’s, so that they get what they want.

People become so used to you doing it that they may even push back at you if you stop compromising for them.

However, sometimes it’s only when you stop and reflect on how you act that you realise you’re doing it but also the negative implications, one of which is your needs never being met.