"Instead of resisting any emotion, the best way to dispel it is to enter it fully, embrace it, and see through your resistance." -Deepak Chopra
When left to it's own devices, anxiety is suffocating. It lurks at every turn in life, and keeps you up at night, it's weight sitting heavily on your chest. You've learned that the further you try to run, the bigger and uglier it gets.
Your mind becomes swamped with "shoulds" and "coulds" and soon enough, shame or guilt have entered to tag along.
"You should be over that by now."
"Why do you keep thinking about that moment over and over?"
"You could have been doing so much more if it weren't for that mistake."
"Why can't you just get it together?"
This trio (anxiety, shame, and guilt) are considered inhibitory emotions. They let you know that you're feeling something, but they block core emotions.
If you're experiencing anxiety, shame, or guilt, you're likely either:
a) feeling internal conflict between your own experience and what you perceive as being pleasing to others (i.e. parents, partner, peers, children, co-workers, etc.)
b) core emotions have become too intense and your brain wants to shut them down to protect you from becoming emotionally overwhelmed.
The thing is, we get caught in this cycle, and that's what feels suffocating. It goes something like this:
feel a feeling > "stuff" feeling > feel anxiety, shame, or guilt > "numb" by using a defense
And inevitably, what comes next?
Yep, I knew you'd get it! You feel a feeling again.
Here's the deal, most of this happens subconsciously- so quickly that you usually don't realize it. And over time, this cycle escalates. Little by little, the physical experience becomes bigger and bigger. (Read my last blog post to understand this concept even better.)
Until someone points it out (which I did), and you gain greater awareness of it (which you are). Don't be surprised when you notice yourself looking through a new lens the next time you begin to feel uncomfortable as a result of an emotional response. And for goodness sake, don't "stuff" it when you do.
Instead, I want to offer you a helpful way to move through these emotion-laden experiences in a way that serves to bolster connection to yourself while dispelling anxiety. It will take some practice and lots of intentional effort. I can guarantee that it is worth it, though, and you will begin to experience a sense of greater peace and well-being, because of it.
It's called The Change Triangle, and you can learn even more about it here. Simply put, it is a visual tool that outlines the path to identifying our core emotions and opening us back up to "the openhearted state of the authentic self," a regulated space where we feel like the best version of ourselves.
It works like this:
Consider where you are on the triangle
Allow for space, pause without judgement, to listen to your body
Identify and name each core emotion that comes to mind as you concentrate on what your body is saying to you
Stay curious about what each emotion is trying to tell you about your experience
Maintain awareness and move forward by intentional thought around what your needs are based on the information you've just gathered
When you follow this process, you'll notice that the tension and heightened anxiety that you were feeling will decrease. With continued repetition, you'll begin to realize that your awareness of your internal state will begin to direct you to this model for moving through anxiety automatically, often before you even realize you're anxious.
As with anything, the more you do it, the easier it becomes and the more natural it will feel-because it is natural.
Unfortunately, our experiences have told us that emotional expression is unacceptable either because it it isn't pleasing to others or it will threaten our relationships and therefore our survival, which would be emotionally unbearable (look back at where anxiety, shame, and guilt come from...sounds familiar, doesn't it?)
You see, as a child- because we often learn to shut this system down very early- your brain knew you wouldn't survive on your own, so it adapted to the environment. That means you either a) pleased others when it was in conflict with your own need or b) survived by shutting off what was emotionally unbearable (no matter how small those moments seem now).
Along the way, you lost a really important part of you, by no fault of your own. It is the part that was attuned to your inner experience. To get back in touch with that part again, you'll have to get re-acquainted with all of the emotions you've tried to run from or stifle for so long.
Instead of believing that naming these feelings will make you weak, you'll soon realize you are stronger, more courageous, and more connected than you've ever felt. You'll see through your resistance, as the quote above indicates. You'll begin to feel empowered, confident, and more compassionate towards others. You'll feel authentically you, again.
By embracing your experience, you'll move out of anxiety and into authenticity. Embracing your experience- rather than trying to shut it down- is what changes things.
If you're tired of feeling like you are disconnected from yourself, or like you're always accommodating others, I can help. Let's start working towards the life of authenticity you want. We'll do it together. Call for your free consultation today.
Take a few moments to center your attention on what is happening inside your body. You might find it helpful to journal through this experience, or maybe it is more helpful for you to just be present with your body. Start by seeing if you can locate a physical sensation as you consider what sensations your are experiencing right now.
As you bring your attention to the physical sensation, ask yourself what this sensation is signaling. What core emotion is present here? Remember, the core emotions are: sadness, fear, anger, joy, excitement, sexual excitement and disgust.
Rather than judging the emotion that presents itself, take on a posture of curiosity. What is this emotion trying to say? If you feel tears begin to surface, welcome them. If new sensations and emotions rise, welcome them. Notice that as you lean into your experience with curiosity, the tension in your body begins to subside. Perhaps you are able to breathe more deeply.
Try practicing this once per week, if you're able. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers. Try your best not to filter your responses- even if they seem to not make sense right now.
As always, I would love to hear how this information has impacted you, what you learned about yourself, and what you'd like to know more about. Don't hesitate to email me. I read every response.