OK, lets recap Marisa Peer’s Three A’s of dealing with emotions.
First, you become Aware of your emotions. You simply notice them. Stop for a minute and think about what you are feeling. Then you Allow your feelings. No judgement. Just allow whatever comes up, to come. If it’s anger, sit a minute longer to see what’s under the anger. There is always hurt or fear underneath. The last A is Articulate. Talk about your feelings.
If you are like most people, this last A, articulation, or talking about how you feel, can be super scary. And uncomfortable. And the last thing in the world you’ll ever do willingly, thank you very much. But it’s needed and healing and sets you free. So you might want to try it…
I’m going to give you a few tips and ideas about how to do this. I have no idea what you may be picturing when I say “talk about your feelings.” But I have a hunch it’s not positive. We don’t see many healthy examples of how to do this. It may not be familiar at all. You may picture a person who is very emotional or who doesn’t deal with emotions, just stays stuck in them and blames others. Or you may be like, ‘If I told everyone how I really feel, I’d have about zero friends by tomorrow night.’
The good new is that most of the time when you articulate your feelings, it only needs be to yourself. No need to share with everyone all the time. This does not mean blame. This isn’t sharing your emotions or pain with anyone who will listen. That just keeps it there longer. This is about getting honest with yourself. Telling yourself how you feel first. This powerful practice of telling yourself how you feel, helps the feeling pass. It’s the last step to get it up and out and gone. It stops the build up that causes outbursts of anger and hurt relationships.
I don’t know much about cars. So whenever I have to deal with them, I feel stupid. I had to get a headlight a couple of weeks ago. I avoided it. It’s super easy, but just going into the car parts store makes me feel stupid. I grew up with four brothers so I’m kinda tough, but I don’t really care about cars. I care about what color a car is. So even though I can change the oil and change a tire, and know a little about cars that I like, I’m still embarrassed about all that I don’t know. So anyway, by the time I got around to buying a headlight, I got pulled over because I had a taillight missing too. (At least that’s what I thought the cop said) So I go in and have the guy behind the counter at the car parts store get me a headlight and tell him my taillight is missing too. He asks if it’s the inside or outside light. I have no clue. So I ask what the difference. He says the outer edge is the outside. I feel like an idiot. I don’t know which it is. So I go outside and check. Both lights look fine. So then I figure out, it must be the brake light. (Oh, yeah, I remember now, the cop said brake light.) So I go in and buy the headlight. I don’t even bother with the brake light. I just want to get out of there as fast a possible. I feel like they all are judging me for being a dumb woman who drives a minivan and got stuck in a car wash a few weeks ago…(that’s another story, but true, and ads to my shame) because they know how bad I am at life…
I’m not sure if you can relate, but what I did with all these feelings was NOT follow the three A’s. At least not till later. What I did instead was start to be really mad at my husband. And mad at myself. He should take care of this stuff!! And I should know more. But I don’t. And I shouldn’t have gotten stuck in the car wash, but I did.
After a while I came around. I became aware that I was really feeling stupid and mad that I didn’t just figure it out. I was frustrated that I always feel dumb about cars. And mechanical things in general. I allowed it all to come up. Then I sent a message to my husband saying I felt really dumb and couldn’t get the brake light. And I wanted him to take care of it. He was happy to. Then, it was done. I went on with my day. How long do you think this took? Hours? Nope. It took about 10 minutes. (After I left the store). How long did I wait to deal with it? 3 days till I stopped at store to buy the part, then 10 mins in the store feeling dumb. But once I decided to apply the three A’s, it only took about 5 mins. Is that ideal? Yes. For me it is. It’s so much better than what I used to do. And I can be proud of that. There is no one who gets this perfect. But I wanted to get on with my day and I knew I had to be honest and feel the feelings or I’d be in a bad mood all night. Which I chose not to do.
Did that sound a little petty? Or insignificant? As you start this practice of noticing emotions, it might feel that way. That’s the point. If we go back to the volcano analogy, it’s letting all the mini eruptions happen, so they don’t all pile up and cause a huge mess. These little things that seem insignificant, or that shouldn’t bother you or me, can add up fast.
Most of the time you will find relief when you talk to yourself, or share with a friend or spouse what’s going on. But there are a few times you need to articulate to the person who’s hurting you. If the situation isn’t getting better. If your emotional “gas gauge” is showing that a certain person drives you nuts and gives you high blood pressure, or constantly criticizes you, then it’s time to talk. If you are practicing the three A’s with yourself and it’s still not easing up, then it’s time to talk. You’ll use the three A’s to process what’s really going on. Before you talk to them. You can get past anger and find out what is actually happening.
How to do conflict successfully is a skill you can learn. I’m going to share a really helpful video to help you if you are needing to address this in your life. Which we all do! If this video doesn’t suit you, google a different one! There are so many great resources for this. You CAN learn it and feel so much better after you resolve the situation.
Dealing with your emotions is simple. Awareness. Allowing. Articulating. It’s a skill we can learn and hone with practice. Emotional hygiene. Rinse and repeat every day. You got this!