• by Dealing with our Emotions Head On

We are well into 2020 and this year (like all years) has likely already tossed a few unwanted curve balls at you.  And, as we all know, there will always be more to come.

“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass.  It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” – anonymous

That’s not just a nifty quote.  I think its wise advice that most of us would love to implement.  The problem is, we really haven’t been taught how to manage our emotions effectively.  

Most of us have instead learned how to side step our emotions resulting in various forms of self sabotage.

If you feel confused about what you are feeling sometimes, you are not alone.  Most of us have a hard time identifying, feeling, and expressing our emotions directly.  It’s much easier (and socially acceptable) to eat, drink, gamble, shop, binge watch, (etc) our emotions away.  The problem is, when you do that, you’re still stuck feeling crappy in the end…with an additional side order of guilt and regret!

“There is no nutritional solution to an emotional problem” – Glenn Macintosh

You can expand that to say, there is no Netflix show, facebook distraction, shopping spree, or any other form of sabotage that can fix an emotional problem.

Sabotage is about fear, pure and simple.  And sometimes what we are fearing, is handling ourselves and our emotions directly.  Why?  Because it can feel complicated.

We can often have conflicting feelings running at the same time.  Maybe you are both happy for, and jealous of a friend’s success.  Maybe you are both nervous and excited about a risk you want to take.  You might feel anxious, angry and depressed all at the same time!  The good news?  That’s normal.

The best way to figure out what is going on with you is to sit down and write.  (I have a paper and pen handy at all times.)  Just write down whatever is going on in your head.  This is called free-associative writing and you can’t do it wrong.  Just write.

At first you may write things like, “This is stupid.  I don’t know what the point of this is.  I don’t have time for this”…etc.

About a half a page into the writing you will be seeing EXACTLY what you are feeling and why.  It will be crystal clear…  “She always treats me like I’m an idiot!”, etc.  Trust me, this process is highly effective and the more you do it, the faster you get to what’s really going on.  (and it’s free!)

Now with this clarity, how can you address your emotions directly (and skip the sabotage all together)?  What do you NEED in this moment?  Is there a conversation you need to have?  Do you need to take care of something?  Is your inner critic raging and therefore you need to journal about your negative beliefs for a while?  Do you need to do something physical like go for a walk?  Do you need to ask for help?  

Figure out what NEED is not being met in this moment.

Recently I had an experience that left me feeling furious, unheard, and ineffective…I basically felt like I’d been given the runaround by a clever politician although in this case, it was with the manager of the care unit where my mother lives.

After our conversation, I found myself angrily rummaging through the cupboard.  I was about to take a sharp turn down the road of self sabotage!

In the past, my go-to reaction would have been to stuff away my anger with chocolate, cookies, etc.  Remember Glenn’s quote?  “There is no nutritional solution to an emotional problem.”

So, having done this work (a lot), I left the kitchen, sat down, and started writing. I narrowed down what was going on for me.  (Again, I felt furious, unheard, and ineffective.)  The NEEDS for me were to express myself, feel like I had some control over the situation, and feel capable again.  (And making another useless phone call with her would only further fan my anger).  So, for me to feel like I had control, meant taking some sort of action.   So, I looked up other care facilities, read reviews of them plus the ones where my mother lives.  (No I did not leave a nasty review…I’m still holding out for a decent resolution to our issues.)  I spent about 15 minutes investigating other options.  That helped me feel somewhat in control again.  However, I was still angry.  I could still feel it in my body.  So?  I let myself thrash around a bit.  (I’m sure I looked like a melodramatic toddler having a full on tantrum!)  And then (after I’d calmed down), to feel effective and maybe even empowered, I WROTE THIS NEWSLETTER.  

So ultimately, something GOOD came of my crappy feelings.  Actually, something GOOD came of me not succumbing to my old patterns of self sabotage!  Instead of crashing from a carb high, (and still feeling pissed and ineffective) I did something positive to help me feel empowered, and hopefully helped a few other people along the way (with this newsletter).

So again, when you feel yourself heading down the road to self sabotage, stop and write out what’s going on.  Get clear about what you are FEELING.  When the clarity comes, ask yourself what NEED needs to be addressed.  And then see if you can address that need directly rather than side stepping it with sabotage.  And if you can’t solve the problem directly, (which was the case for me because this is still an ongoing issue) you can at least manage your emotions and avoid sabotaging yourself.

Practice this.  The more you do it, the faster and easier it gets.

And if you need support tackling your needs, I’m here.  Get in touch and together we will figure out how to get past your self sabotage and handle your obstacles directly.