Did you know that the unpleasant feelings you experience are essentially a cleansing system?
Yes. They are arrows pointing to what needs to be changed, updated or upgraded.
The hard part about the unpleasant feelings is that you might find yourself avoiding them or tempted to avoid them. And, it’s not just you. It’s me too. And your neighbor. And the person in the car in front of you at the stoplight.
Part of your avoidance is just a knee jerk reaction. Part of it might be not knowing how to deal with the unpleasant feelings.
So, let’s talk about how to deal with unpleasant feelings first:
- Recognize that the feeling is there. You can do this by noticing sensations in your body. You can notice this in your behaviors (for example, you might be more snappy or impatient than normal). You can notice by paying attention to the thoughts occurring in your mind (for example, being more judgmental than normal).
- Let it be there. Now, this is the scariest part. Here’s the deal: it is only a wave. It will pass if you let it just be there for a short time. This is the part where you might want to avoid it because, if you let it be there, it might never go away. But. Let’s be honest. It’s there anyway, whether you try to push it away or not. And, you’ve done hard stuff before. You have pushed through a work out, you have been sleep deprived, you have maybe had a painful medical procedure, you have endured stress. So, you can let the feeling be there for a beat.
- If you are able to think clearly: reflect. Write about it, talk to someone, think about it on your run or during your yoga class. Once you download the message and your body metabolizes the feeling (it just gets processed, you don’t have to consciously “do” anything, the body will take care of it), you will feel relief. If it is a big feeling, you might have a number of waves of the feeling, but there will be relief in between the waves.
**If you are not sure what your feeling are trying to communicate to you, go here to download your FREE copy of 5 Basic Emotions and their Messages Quick Reference Guide.
Ok, so why are unpleasant feelings the keys to your success?
They are showing you where the blocks or barriers are to getting what you want.
I’m talking more about the things that you often get upset about. Not just random things. I’m talking about the thing in your life where you are like: “ugh, this…AGAIN”.
If you notice something showing up repeatedly, there is likely something you are doing that is not effective or helpful.
It is not because you are dumb. It is because human beings create ways of operating in the world that eventually become outdated. Just like a phone has to be updated, our operating systems have to be updated. Not a big deal. Inconvenient? Yes. But not a big deal.
Let talk about an example:
You feel like you are always doing all the work in your relationship. Anger, resentment and frustration show up. You are having fights with your partner about it (either silent distancing or actual verbal exchanges).
If you take a minute to reflect on this (step #3 above), you might come to the realization that you are doing a lot of work your partner really isn’t asking you to do. You might realize that you are actually doing that in a lot of your relationships. You might realize that you do that so that no one can criticize you. You might realize that you don’t want anyone to criticize you because you had a critical parent and you would rather bend over backwards than experience more of that.
There are lot of ways the reflection could go. The bottom line is that there you are angry, resentful and frustrated because doing all the work isn’t working for you anymore. And, it is costing you harmony in your relationship, your peace and enjoyment in life. You are not OK with it. So, that means a change or an update to that program needs to happen.
What would be the pay off of addressing this?
Maybe you could be closer to your partner. Maybe you could have more free time on your hands to actually do something fun. Maybe you don’t have to go to sleep angry. Maybe you don’t have to dread going home or be fuming in the car on the way to work. Wouldn’t that be nice? Do you think you could give that to yourself?
That is how the unpleasant feelings act as an arrow to the places that are getting in the way of your success.
Here are some questions that you can ask yourself when you reflect:
- When and where (in what relationships) have I felt this way before?
- What am I really upset about? It’s usually not about the dishes or money in a fight with your partner, it is underneath that. Look underneath the “details” of the situation bringing up the feelings.
- How have the ways I’m being in these situations actually worked in my favor in the past? As in, what is my behavior in this dynamic trying to accomplish?
- How could I handle this differently so that I can get what I want without the solution being contingent on someone else making changes?
Do you think you could start to shift your relationship to unpleasant feelings? How are you going to start?