Can you pull yourself out of an emotion or do you identify so strongly with it that it gets hard to control?
Most of us have never been taught that we are not actually the emotions we feel.
We can look at them differently, compassionately, and most of all, we can learn from them.
Often, when we hold to an emotion, we end up losing sense of who we are. We become that emotion.
How many times have you heard yourself saying: I am anxious, I am sad, or I am pissed? By identifying yourself (I) with the emotion, you disconnect yourself from your real self and consequently are no longer able to acknowledge it for what it really is — a passing feeling.
Now, imagine this. It’s a summer day and you step outside your home. The sun is brightly shining in the sky. You can feel the rays touching your skin. What happens? After a while, you start feeling the heat, and your body warming up, right? But are you the heat itself?
The same goes with our emotions. It’s just like the heat in your body is simply an experience triggered by the sun rays. There is a trigger, the sun rays touching your naked skin, and a consequence, the physical reaction, your skin starting to burn and your temperature rising. Although you may say I am hot, you are not the heat itself. And you know what needs to be done. You know that the sun rays are setting off the heat and all you need is to step away from the sun. Chances are, after a while, you will no longer feel hot.
But now what about an emotional trigger? Can we remove ourselves from our emotions?
With emotions, we are dealing with different triggers, that activate our emotional response. It may be a word someone said, a situation, an image. Different triggers coming from past conscious or unconscious memories that elicit a reaction in our brain and body— anger, pain, anxiety and even happiness. But still, you are not that emotion that is surfacing, as a reaction to a trigger. Same as the heat, you are not the heat or the cold — you are simply experiencing it at that moment.
So instead of identifying yourself with it, what can be done?
The first step is to acknowledge it. Acknowledging the emotion arising.
Paying attention to our breath and body is one of the most effective ways of staying grounded in ourselves. You might feel your breath running shorter, if anger is surfacing, or your energy lowering if sadness is paying you a visit. Once you are conscious of the emotion, it means you are no longer identified with it.
When you say I am the emotion, you become that. In contrast, when you express it differently, let’s say, I feel sad, I feel anger, you no longer blend yourself with it but instead acknowledge the feeling as a visitor entering your body and mind. It allows you to look at it, you gain space and perspective.
You don't identify yourself with it but instead bring it to light. Because you hold the consciousness that you are not the emotion happening to you but simply the experiencer— you can deal it from a new perspective.
Once the emotion is acknowledged, and you can differentiate who you are from what you feel, you can start the process of welcoming the emotion and caring for it —yes, caring.
Shifting from engaging with it to acknowledging it, brings you enough room to consciously deal with the emotion.
Down the road, it will allow you to dialogue with what you are experiencing instead of reacting to it.
Self-understanding. Self-awareness. Self-compassion.
That’s where the healing begins.
Once you acknowledge the emotion and you stand apart from it — you bring consciousness to your emotional state and you can start to observe it — you are no longer immersed in it.
The space between you being triggered and your response to the trigger, is where all change can happen.
You can understand, bit by bit, emotions as results of triggering situations and that they will pass — what remains is your acknowledgment that such emotions exist, that they can visit you from time to time, and that it is ok.
Understanding the triggers is the next step to healing — what was the trigger that arose such a visitor, the emotion? What was it trying to tell me? Understanding then what triggers you will help you plunge into your wounded parts that need healing.
Being triggered is after all a sign that something, within us, needs our attention, our love and our care.
Hello dear readers. I am a self-awareness and transformational guide. Based on my life experiences and studies, I help individuals to reconnect with their hearts and souls, bringing meaning and purpose into their lives. Differently than most goal-orientated coaching sessions, my work consists of intuitive listening with a mix of different techniques and tools, such as Systemic Constellations, allowing new answers and perspectives to surface and naturally transformation to occur. Sign up here and get my free eBook on how relationships can help us through that process.