Our emotions are always giving us information. They help us to inform decisions and are constantly providing us with what we need to know in order to survive. Our emotions can also be unfounded or reactive or out of control - making us feel like somewhat of a crazy person. Am I right?!
From an early age in school and at home we are taught basic skills such as how to tie our shoes and brush our teeth, but we are often lacking in our understanding of emotional management and regulation strategies, which is a skill we will use each and every day.
In our busy, technology connected yet socially and emotionally disconnected hustle vibes society, emotions are often brushed aside, not addressed or ignored. We are often taught that we shouldn't show emotions like anger and sadness and to pretend everything is A-OK all the time. Especially with social media constantly showing us other people's highlight reel - we can get caught up in thinking everyone else seems to be happy all the time - so what's wrong with me?
The truth is we need to feel and honor all of our emotions. If they aren't addressed or felt, they can built up inside of us, and over time can pile on and on and on until we inevitably reach a breaking point.
This is where a mindful practice comes into play. It teaches us how to dance with our emotions; to see and feel them and let them go when necessary.
Give these strategies a try to help surf those emotions waves instead of getting knocked over when the wave breaks.
Tools for Managing Emotions
1. Emotional layering: Tuning inward and identifying exactly what you are feeling in a given moment will help you understand where it is coming from, and how to move forward with the resolution. Let's say you are feeling uneasy about something. Close your eyes and place your hands on your heart and ask yourself 'what am I feeling right now?' See what comes up. Then ask yourself, what's below that. Continue until you think you've finally gotten to the root of the emotion. Often emotions are layered on top of each other so getting to the root will bring wonderful awareness.
2. Respond vs. React: We have all had those moments when something triggers us and we fly off the handle, jumping straight into frustration and or anger. Practice instead the art of responding. Taking in all the information about the situation as it is happening, process and pause and THEN respond instead of relying on that knee jerk reaction that can often escalate the situation even further. Having a regular mindfulness practice can help with this, I have been using this free app for daily meditation which has been really helpful.
3. Sit with your emotions: When those tricker emotions come up for you, try your best not to dismiss them before you have had a chance to fully acknowledge, understand and feel the emotion to the fullest. This may look like actually letting yourself cry when you are sad instead of swallowing back the tears, or releasing that pent up anger in a run or boxing class so it's not wreaking havoc in your body. Fully embracing your joy in high vibe moments like singing in the shower or smiling wide are great too!
4. Let it go: If emotions are like waves, then they are always coming and going. Emotions aren't meant to stay with us permanently so sometimes we need to allow ourselves to let go of what no longer is serving us and bring back the ease of the ebbs and flows of the waves. As weird as it sounds, holding negativity or being angry is almost like eating candy... it's addictive and once we let ourselves indulge, sometimes we want to stay in that state. Releasing when necessary is another helpful tool to support you in managing your emotions as they present themselves so they don't build up to the point of explosion.
Last week we talked all about new beginnings and how to make the most out of a fresh start and learn how to embrace new situations. If you missed it, check it out here. This week we're taking it one step further and unpacking the sometimes dreaded word, CHANGE.
Change is something that we all seem to resist yet it is the only thing CONSTANT in our lives. The ability to change your situation, your luck, your relationship etc takes massive guts and is hard. Remember when we were young and change happened daily in the form of a new tooth, an inch of height or fresh hormones (ugh, I don't miss those!). We didn't resist it, we simply understood that it was the way of life and accepted it or welcomed it.
Growing up in Canada, I never liked the cold. My parents took me to Vermont to ski every weekend and although I became a great skiier, I did not like putting on a skisuit and spending the whole day freezing my a$$ off! The hot chocolate at the end of the day was always the part I looked forward to the most. So from an early age I decided I wanted to move and I set my sites on California.
This dream from its first inception to becoming a reality took over 10 years to manifest! The lesson here is that you can't put a timeline on the things you want to change, you just have to keep working at them and trust that they will happen.
Over the years I've learned to make friends with change and to actually like it, even when it's throwing me a curve ball I didn't expect or sending me a change that makes me uncomfortable or sad. I know that life is better with an influx of change and I'm a better person for learning to love it.
Want to feel the same? Embrace these tips and watch the changes unfold.
Tips for Change
1: Nothing changes if nothing changes: The biggest thing that is halting change in your life is as simple as not making the changes. If you want to learn a new skill but never take a class or try the activity - nothing will change. If you want to change your habit of pressing snooze every morning but never make any changes like going to bed earlier or putting your alarm clock in the next room so you have to get out of bed to turn it off then nothing will change. We have more power than we think over the changes we want in our life and it all starts with baby steps and consistency.
2. Seasons of change: We are just like nature, always changing from season to season, day to day. Nothing is ever really the same and yet there is a consistency and familiarity to the sun rising each morning and setting each night. Work with the seasons in your own life by first off acknowledging that they exist and observing yourself through the days, month, years and how you DO change over time. How your body becomes stronger from working out and eating right, how your goals change, your mood changes with the seasons etc. Learn to notice the rhythms of your body so you know when they are coming and can prepare for what they bring.
3. Backwards plan: Changes take planning and the big ones don't just happen by chance. It wasn't by chance that I ended up calling California home, it took focused planning and dedication and many years to make it happen. Backwards planning has always been a great tool for me to visualize the change and break it down into smaller actions so it doesn't feel overwhelming. Think about what you want to change and think about the steps you need to take in order to make it happen.
4. Celebrate change: Chances are you've experience BIG changes and SMALL changes in your life. It's SO important to take the time to celebrate each of those that you've experienced and created for yourself. It's ALSO great to know when it's time to stay put and enjoy what you have created. We can't always be in a state of BIG change and don't need to be. Reflect upon what season of change you are in right now and honor yourself for being exactly where you are supposed to be.
No matter how many years we have been out of school, the beginning of September always feels like a fresh start.
If you are working in the corporate space you are starting to think about Q4 targets and deadlines and how you want to end the year.
Maybe September looks like the start of a new job for you, or living in a new space. Maybe this new fresh start is coming in the form of an exciting travel adventure, a new project at work or an exciting new romance.
Whichever resonates with you - they all have in common the idea of setting an intention. They involve thinking about something that you want to create in the future and then deciding what action steps you should take right now in order to make that thought become a reality.
Since all of our thoughts carry energy, being mindful about the thoughts you think will help drive the actions you take and bring your dreams into reality.
Want to harness this exciting 'new' energy and kick start September and Q4 off right? Follow these steps to make it happen.
1. Make a plan: Take a look at the next 4 months in your calendar and start to visualize and write out your intentions for this final quarter of the year. Ask yourself what do you want to achieve by the end of September? November? 2019? Work backwards with your goals to create bit sized action steps that will support you reaching your goal.
2. Write it out/ vision board: It's SO important to actually write out your goals and take it one step further to create a visual representation of them so that we see them every day can be massively impactful. While you're doing this, journal also on WHY you want to achieve this new goal. Who can you enroll in your vision to help bring it to life? What purpose do you want it to serve?
3. Embrace the NEW: If you're diving head first into something new this month here are a few words of advice... stay curious and ask questions about your new job, new neighbourhood or new travel destination. Remember to embrace the here and now. It's easy to get caught up in things too far off in the distance when we are in new situations. The best way to mitigate that is to bring yourself back to the present moment and be where your feet are.
4. Trust yourself: Remember that where you are now is likely where you wanted to be 6 months ago. Trust that you intended for whatever is happening to happen and if you didn't, it is happening because there is a lesson to be learnt. Trust that whatever new things are coming your way are for a reason.
Samara Zelniker is a yogi, wine drinker, pet lover and travel junkie.