Throughout my adult life I have lived in two modes of being, either overwhelmed or anxious (usually in times of busyness or when I take on more than I can handle) or unmotivated and depressed (usually in times when I am not busy and lean towards my introverted, hermit-like tendencies). And, when I feel this way, I tend towards the “get it together, what is wrong with you?” self-talk that only gets me even more stuck than I was before. It has been part of my own journey to find ways to change the cycle of these ups and downs and finding more balance in my daily life and to improve my overall well-being. And, more importantly, to manage these feelings without resorting to beating myself up for even having them.
So how can we begin to find more emotional balance in our lives?
HOW CAN MANAGE AND LEARN FROM DIFFICULT FEELINGS:
The truth is, one of the best ways to achieve any sort of balance is to know how to manage it when emotions do arise. One way I have learned to approach feelings is a technique borrowed from the wisdom of therapist, Buddhist teacher and author of Radical Acceptance Dr. Tara Brach who uses the acronym R-A-I-N. By utilizing these couple of steps, it may help in increase self-awareness, exploration of feelings in a kind and thoughtful way and pave a path towards a potential understanding and resolution of difficult feelings.
R- Recognize What is Happening
Recognizing starts with tapping into our inner experience. For some of us, we don’t know what we are feeling so sometimes it helps to just start with noticing what is happening in our bodies. We may notice a tightness in our chest, a lump in our throats, a pit in our stomach when we are having an emotional response to something. You can then ask yourself “What is happening within me right now?” Just becoming curious can open the door to understanding what we are feeling and why.
A-Allow Life to Be What it Is
This is giving a welcome mat to whatever feelings may come up for us and recognizing feelings do arise for all of us and sometimes they don’t have or need to have a logical reason behind them. Also, by giving ourselves permission to feel whatever feelings arise can lessen the stronghold of tension we may experience internally. It also paves a way for non-judgmental exploration of what we are feeling and the reasons behind it.
I- Investigate with Kindness
I go with the quote from Carl Jung “Until we make the unconscious conscious, it will rule our lives and we will call it fate.” In order to start the process of exploration and change, we need to explore our feelings in a kind and compassionate way. We can ask some questions of ourselves, such as “What is needing attention right now?” or “What am I believing?” “What does this feeling want from me right now?” You may discover resistance or difficulty in answering these questions. To help with this, attend to the “feelings before the feelings” and thoughts such as “This again??” or “I feel this way and I hate it!” Treat these feelings and thoughts with the same welcoming kindness and compassion and see if that eases some of the difficulty.
We are more than just a momentary thought or feeling and it’s important to recognize you are not your feelings, you are a complex human being with a multitude of abilities, emotions, strengths, intelligence and intuition. And, to remind ourselves that no feeling lasts forever and “this too shall pass” We can also view emotion as an opportunity for learning and growth and not something that is a permanent definition of who we are.
Taking these steps can help us to become more accepting and flexible in the presence of complex and difficult emotion. In addition, we can move through feelings more efficiently and allow for the next feeling to arise and limit feelings of “stuckness.” As with any new idea or practice, it takes time, so be patient with yourself in the process.
With love and support,