We all know have those moments where a difficult emotion comes up for us. Sometimes it can seem to hang around for hours – or even days. But what most of us don’t realise is that we have a choice over how we experience our emotions. And, rather than being a passive victim to them, there are simple techniques we can use, to gently release them and then deal with the root cause. And it can be done in under five minutes.
Want to find out more?
The technique I am going to share with you today is like emotional first aid. It helps you get yourself back into a space of clear-thinking resourcefulness, so you can choose whether or not to deal with the root cause of the emotion. It’s a way of handling that emotion, without suppressing or denying it. It sets you free from feeling ‘stuck’ in it.
But before we go into the strategy, there’s a fundamental, scientifically-proven truth that I need to share with you:
Emotions are a chemical reaction in your body. That’s all.
It’s your mind that triggers the chemical reaction.
Emotions don’t have a ‘life of their own’. Unless our mind feeds the chemical reactions in our body by diving into the ‘story’ and the ‘drama’ of the emotion, the chemical reaction will naturally come to an end, surprisingly quickly.
There are long-term dangers of suppressing and denying our emotions, which I won’t go into here – but Bruce Lipton has written brilliantly about them in his inspirational book Biology Of Belief. It’s well worth a read, especially if you’re not yet convinced by the whole ’emotions being chemical reactions’ bit.
There’s no such thing as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ emotion – they are, as I said, just chemical reactions. What causes the pain is the story we tell ourselves, which keeps those chemical reactions going. If you’re running one of those powerful emotions and want to deal with it, this 7 step strategy will help.
So here’s your ’emotional first aid kit’, which you can use any time, any place. And it works. Once you have calmed and gently released the emotion, then you’re free to look at the situation, truthfully, and see if you’re ready to take action on the root cause.
If you want it to. 😉
Note: if the emotion you’re feeling is a ‘biggie’ (like a 9 or 10 out of 10 on your emotional scale), then do this process twice. The first time, imagine you are standing opposite a mirror and the ‘you’ in the mirror is doing the process – you’re just watching them. This allows you a certain degree of detachment. Once the emotional first aid process has worked its magic and the emotion is a 6 out of 10 or below, do it again, this time for yourself, in your own body.
Emotional First Aid
- When you feel that strong emotion, ask yourself a question that might seem a little strange, but your ‘first instinct’ response is the one you want:
“Where in my body am I feeling this?”
By moving your awareness of the emotion out of your thinking mind and into your physical body, you’re automatically reducing the power of the story and the drama.
- Ask yourself:
“What colour is this emotion?”
“What shape or size is it?”
Yes, I know these sound like weird questions, but they work! And they’re an important way of you objectively experiencing the emotion changing, at the end of the process.
- Surround the emotion, in your physical body, with gentle, golden light. Breathe into the area and imagine you are filling that physical space with acceptance, rather than resistance or anger at the emotion. Keep doing this for a few gentle breaths, until you have a sense that the emotion has relaxed. You will know how this feels when you have done it!
- When you feel ready, breathe out the emotion or stress through your legs and out through your feet, into the earth. Release it, gently, rather than rejecting it, forcing it out or pushing it away.
- Continue for a few breaths: as you breathe in, surround the emotion with golden light and acceptance. As you breathe out, release it through your feet into the earth. Allow the physical tension in your body to flow away, as you do this. Allow this gentle cycle to continue for as long as you need it to, until you feel that the physical sensations have changed. This may be as few as 3 breaths or it may take a few minutes.
- Now go back to the physical location of that old emotion. How has it changed? How has the colour changed? How has the shape, size or location changed? It will have changed! Tap into your emotional body – how are you feeling now? If you’re feeling more grounded and centred, then move on to the next point. If you’re not feeling grounded enough yet, then repeat steps 1 through 5.
- And finally, ask yourself:
“What is real or true about this situation?”
This is your chance to go beyond the story or the drama that triggered the emotion and to see the essential truth of the situation, without blame, guilt, resentment or anger.
“What is real or true here?”
Then, when you’re ready, ask yourself:
“What action could I take to move towards a resolution, rather than feeling stuck?”
There is always something you can do. And if you choose an action that is based on love and kindness, rather than fear and pain, you will be taking a powerful step towards a happier life.
When could you take that action? How will you feel when you have done it?
Then do it!
By releasing the pain of that emotion before we choose which action to take, we are much more likely to choose a response that creates freedom and harmony, rather than more pain and icky emotions for everyone concerned. We are much less likely to end up regretting that action. And the whole emotional first aid kit can be done – anywhere – in a few moments, once you have practised it a few times!
Just imagine being able to run this process for a few breaths, before you respond to that angry email; before you reply to your boss’s criticism; before you ‘retaliate’ in an argument with your loved ones. Just imagine how releasing the painful emotions first could change the outcome to one that is no longer destructive and brings a happier outcome for all!
Not Letting Go Of That Pesky Emotion? Or It Comes Back?
If you’re still stuck, deep in that emotion, it’s worth checking why you’re attached to it. What is it doing for you? What are you scared might happen (or might not happen) if you let it go? Is that emotion being used, at an unconscious level, to make the ‘other person’ feel guilty? Are you using it to beat yourself up? Are you using it to avoid doing something?
None of that would really be helping you – and it’s well worth asking for professional help, to set you free from the cycle.
Have you tried this first aid kit? How did it work for you? Any questions or insights you’d like to share? Where could you see yourself using this? Please let us know, via the comments box.
And if tricky emotions are a problem for you, how about getting off the emotional rollercoaster by joining my 14 day Master Your Emotions Kickstart?