You brush your teeth every day to keep them healthy. Dealing with emotions is the same way. You can “brush” them daily or as often as you need to, so that you avoid “cavities” such as anxiety and pain in relationships. Each of us is taught how to brush when we are little. Unfortunately no one teaches emotional hygiene when we are young. But you can learn today, and be free from painful “cavities” from now on!
Marisa Peer, award winning celebrity therapist and creator of RTT (Rapid Transformational Therapy), shares that Awareness, Allowing, and Articulating are key in dealing with emotions in a healthy way. In the last post I talked about the first “A’ of the Three A’s of emotions. Awareness. You need to be aware of what you are feeling at the time you feel it.
The next ‘A’ is Allowing. And the last that will come in a later post, is Articulating. Allowing is the practice of feeling an emotion fully. If this freaks you out, you’re not alone. Many people think to allow an emotion means to blow up, or cry all day. Or worse, to sit quietly meditating for hours or singing Kum Ba Yah. It doesn’t. Not allowing emotions causes a buildup that makes us blow up or cry all day. That may be what you have experienced in the past. The volcano analogy is probably way overused, but very clearly explains that when we don’t allow a feeling, it gets pushed down and builds pressure as other emotions are added on top of it.
If we go back to the analogy of teeth, it’s like not brushing your teeth and flossing because you don’t have time. It’ll lead to cavities or trips to the dentist that require way more time than just brushing your teeth for a few minutes a day. The Three A’s are preventative medicine.
Note: If you have never done this, go slow. You may have some pent up emotions. You can still allow. You need to. But give yourself some more space to do this. Do it in a place you feel safe. Trust yourself to know when and where and how. Give yourself time to learn how to do it. It’s OK to stumble. It’s all good! As you get better, you can deal with emotions as they come up, as I describe below.
So what exactly does allowing look like? It looks like taking time for your emotions. Let’s pretend you just became aware that you’re mad. Now you sit for a few minutes and feel mad. That’s it. Sit with yourself for a little bit. Just like you would if your child fell and hurt themselves or your dog needed to pee or you slammed your finger in the door. It’s not something you can schedule necessarily. Your emotions come up when they feel like it. They might come up if someone calls and shares some news you weren’t expecting. They can come up when your kid cries in the grocery store, or a friend gets a new car and posts it Facebook.
Some people write down how they’re feeling as they sit with the emotions. I tend talk to myself. (Most of the time when no one can hear…) Other people see emotions come up to the surface as they breathe in, then out of their body as they breathe out. Whatever works for you is great. I believe you and I are created to do this, so as you practice, you’ll get your own style of doing it. You’ll go slow at first and then get faster. This process doesn’t have to take long.
You may not have the time and space right then to sit with your emotions. If you’re at work or dealing with the kids, you may have to make a note to think about this later. No worries. That’s not the same as avoiding it. You will deal with it, just later. Later in the day, choose to remember what was going on.
OK, now you are sitting and thinking. Good! You may say or write or think something like, ‘That really ticked me off when they said I’m always late, or I can’t cook’, or whatever. So you allow the anger to come up. It might feel like it fills up your body. It may feel like all your muscles tense. Just let it. It’s OK. You may feel you hate somebody. Allow it. You may feel like you want to quit your job, or sell your kids. Allow it. These are just feelings. It may surprise you at how mean they are, but that’s normal. Allow whatever comes up. If it is really negative, then you probably needed this more than you know! No judgement. There are no bad emotions. They just are. It’s only bad if you actually go punch someone… Don’t do that…
Remember that under anger there may be hurt or frustration or fear. Allow whatever other emotions follow the anger. It might sound like, ‘I feel foolish when she says I’m late all the time.’ Allow it. It might sound like, ‘It makes me feel stupid, or inadequate, or like a failure. I’m afraid I’d be first to lose my job if we downsized.’ Allow it. Feel it. It might be, ‘I’m afraid I’m not good enough. I’m frustrated I’m not as good as everyone else.’
Once you have felt it, you will notice the emotion lessen. Just allowing it can help you to see how silly or over the top it is, and then it can go. You can picture the emotion come up, and feel it, then picture it floating out of your body.
Recently I felt really anxious after speaking in a group. I talked it through with my husband and figured out I was afraid everyone wouldn’t like me. Or people would think I’m wrong or stupid. Once I said it, I could then be more reasonable about it. I know that I don’t need everyone to like me. I have good friends. I’ll be fine. But it was a real feeling and felt very overwhelming till I allowed it.
If it is something that keeps coming up, then you’ll have to decide what action you will take to deal with it.
If you keep getting mad everyday and having a war to get your 6 year old dressed for school, then you might need to make a new game plan in the mornings. If you notice you are angry every time your husband leaves dishes out on the counter, and when you sit with it you see you’re hurt because he expects you to be the maid, then you might need to say something.
In Part 3 I’ll show you what the next A, Articulating, looks like. In the mean time, experiment on yourself. Allow your feelings. Notice how the process works for you. Notice how you feel later on after you have let it out. And celebrate any and all progress. This is important stuff to learn and practice! Your friends and family will thank you.