Upsetting events happen in our life, it is all part of living the human experience. You will get rejected, you may have your heart broken, you will do something you regret, someone will speak to you unkindly, your children will shout at you, you may be embarrassed (possibly BY your children), you will fail, you might not get the house your heart is set on, you may not get the job you wanted, you may lose your job, your holiday may get cancelled, a disagreement with a loved one …
You may have developed patterns to cope with upsetting events. Do any of these resonate with you? Looking in the cupboard for the best sugary thing, sitting down with a big bag/ box or bar of …(insert your favourite treat here), pouring a large glass of wine into the largest glass you have in the cupboard, or snapping at the person closest to you.
Yes, these can be classed as ways to cope, but the negative consequences of: weight gain, a foggy head, feeling out of control or a breakdown in relationships, can outweigh the short term relief that overeating, overdrinking or outbursts of shouting, provide.
Overeating, overdrinking, or being reactive with people give you more of a reason to feel unhappy. Now you are not only feeling: rejected, sad, angry, embarrassed, low, regret, ashamed or dejected, you can now add the consequence of weight gain, a foggy head and guilt which most likely lead to you beating yourself up.
Have some compassion for yourself. Although you do have some part in this, you are not solely to blame. Adverts, social media and people in our life tell us that the goal is to be happy all the time. I am offering you that this thought does not serve you. If this is the goal of your life, then you may spend more time further away from happiness.
Try this instead… Try thinking, the goal is to experience the whole range of human emotions including the negative ones. Because when we choose to escape or avoid negative emotions we actually end up being further away from experiencing the one thing most of us want… to experience more positive emotions. So instead of feeling bad about feeling bad, acknowledge that some parts of life will be bad and that is just what it means to be a human being. Let that in for a moment.
An option is to pause the next time you have an upsetting event in your life and don’t be in a hurry to escape the feeling. We have been taught that life should be happy all the time and that experiencing a negative emotion may mean we won’t survive. I want to offer, we will survive. And furthermore, we will become stronger as a result of feeling it. We need to re-educate ourselves.
I watched my 8 year old have an argument with his 10 year old brother over the destruction of his wooden creation of ‘The Abbey', from the Battle of Hastings, of Battle’, that he reported, had taken him 57 minutes to build – side note. After closer questioning – my 8 year old had vandalised something that my 10 year old had built in retaliation for him not wanting to play football.
Why am I sharing this with you? Because my 8 year old was resisting being sad that his brother did not want to play football and was doing anything other than just letting that sad emotion in. Resisting ‘sad’ meant he became reactive and broke something which then added guilt to the pile of emotions he was already trying to resist from feeling. In the good old days, he may have even been offered some chocolate or a lolly pop to feel better. Like feeling sad was not a good option, and food would solve for this. Sound familiar?
When I told him that it was completely ok for him to feel sad that his brother didn’t want to play football with him, his whole body changed. The fight or resistance left his body and he allowed the sadness in. He cried a little, and then he moved on and started fixing his Battle Abbey building.
The emotion may be a little uncomfortable in your body, but you can show up feeling better about yourself for being willing to feel discomfort to move through difficult situations. The more you practice this process the easier and less foreign it becomes.
So have a go at letting the feeling in. Decide what you are making the upsetting event mean about you. It is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of being brave to open yourself up to the truth. If you see it as a sign of being brave you can take the opportunity to grow as a person, and learn another way to deal with emotions. Because let’s face it … the current way may not be getting you your desired results of: the body you want, the sharpness you need each day, or the relationship where you show up being compassionate and proud of the way that you act. Have your own back and experience the vibration of the feeling in your body.
Having a go at practicing this new skill and not trying to escape from yourself, may just be the skill that makes you practiced in being able to handle other things that you know may be uncomfortable. That sure sounds like building resilience, trust in yourself and an ability to be in control of your actions. How empowering.
You don’t have to try allowing your feelings in, but if you do here’s some tips.
Expect and welcome your negative emotion when you have a difficult situation present itself
Pause and allow the feeling to be in your body. Do this for 10 – 30 seconds.
Breathe through it, where are you feeling it in your body?
Ask yourself what you are making this situation mean about you. Does this thought serve you? How else can you think about it to get a better result?
If you would like some help on how to experience feelings instead of buffering by overeating, overdrinking or being reactive, give me a call to find out if I can offer you some help. If you have subscribed to my blog, you will also receive the latest information on upcoming workshops. I have been collaborating with other coaches, so there are a few in the pipeline coming out soon. Don't miss out and subscribe to the blog updates by entering your details in the pop up window.
Have a brilliant day