You've probably heard the expression, “healing is in the feeling”, but I want to tell you that healing is actually in the expression of the feeling. We always attempt to suppress our emotions, ignore them and ignore our intuition. I'm going to show you how expressing your feelings will actually help you to heal, move forward and grow.
We know from psychologists that there's hundreds of emotions that we can experience, but essentially, they boil down to six basics, love, peace, joy, anger, fear, and sadness.
What we tend to do with emotions is suppress them; we think our way through an emotion rather than expressing it and feel its importance. To deal with our emotions, we need to feel them, whether they’re positive or negative ones. There’s no such thing as a good or bad emotion, even the negative emotions like anger, fear and sadness can save your life. They have a very real and definite purpose, and sometimes they’re essential. It’s when the emotions control us, rather than us controlling our emotions, that they start to become a problem. The thing that you need to understand about your emotions is no one can make you feel anything.
The way you feel about a situation is a choice. Anger is a choice, fear is a choice, love, peace or joy is a choice. You may not feel like you're in control of them, but if you learn to process your emotions and actually express your feelings, you'll find that you can then choose the way you react to a situation.
Emotions are a chemical process and lasts between 60 and 90 seconds and then the chemicals start to dissipate. How we express our emotions after that 60 to 90 seconds is essentially our reaction to that emotional feeling and we can choose how high on the scale we express those emotions. If you imagine a scale of one to 10, you can say you’re feeling about a four on the anger scale right now, rather than going straight from zero to 10 in one jump. But the only way to do that, is to actually have control of your emotions and a lot of people don't. The reason we don't is because we spend our entire lives suppressing our emotions rather than expressing them and the emotions build up inside.
Have you ever had a situation where you've seen somebody react in a way that is bigger than the event that triggered the outburst? In my experience, when the reaction is larger than the event warrants, you’re dealing with all the emotions, old anger, old fear or old sadness, and those emotions can come back and bite you when you least expect it, if you haven't expressed them and dealt with them in the past. I’ll show you how we can look at our emotions and process them and express them in a way so that they don't control us in the future.
Imagine that your emotions are like a bucket of water. For example, imagine you have a leak in your roof and you put a bucket under it and the water gradually drips into the bucket. As the bucket fills up, it will overflow. That overflow from the bucket is essentially what occurs when there’s an outpouring of emotion. It can be an angry outburst, crying at the drop of a hat or a panic attack that’s attached to a fear. These are some of the ways we express our emotions. It becomes an extreme reaction that we don’t necessarily have control over. Imagine that you could empty the bucket regularly so it never overflows. This is precisely what I’m talking about, because over our lives, we suppress our emotions because society tells us to do that. All we're doing by suppressing these emotions is leaving them in the bucket, but the bucket is going to get full and will eventually overflow.
The thing with emotions is you can't think your way through a feeling. Let’s say you’re at a funeral and you’re feeling sad, justifiably so, and people will come up to you and say don’t be sad, think of all the happy times, essentially, what they’re saying is don’t feel what you’re feeling. You’ve been told to suppress your emotions. How many times, in your life, has someone said to you “don’t be sad”? People are saying to you, don't express that feeling, don't even feel that feeling just suppress it, just push it down until it doesn't exist anymore. Then they’ll say to you, think of the happy times. They're telling you to think something, but you can't think your way through a feeling. The only way you can deal with a feeling is to express it. You need to get it out of the bucket and the only way to do that is to actually allow that emotion in, you have to lean into the emotion, not run away from it.
Again, there are six basic types of emotions. We tend to label them as either positive or negative, but the reality is they're not positive or negative. Love, peace and joy are the emotions that we tend to try to encourage.
We express them more easily and people are generally good at expressing love, peace and joy. Anger, fear and sadness are the ones that people tend to supress and ignore and make them go away. As I said previously, those emotions can save your life. Fear will stop you from playing in traffic and these are the things that you need in your life. They're you, your lizard brain emotions that will actually stop you from doing things, and get you out of situations that you need to get out of. They're not emotions that we should be suppressing, but they’re emotions we need to understand so that we can deal with them and we can be in control of them rather than them controlling us.
If we go back to the example of the bucket, if your bucket is full, you're no longer in control of when the bucket is going to overflow. We need techniques to be able to empty our bucket so that it can have capacity for these emotions, to fill our bucket again, because you can't avoid emotion. You're going to have situations that make you angry, you're going to have situations that make you afraid or sad, and that's perfectly normal, that's part of being human. It's really important to feel those emotions, but what we're trying to do is ensure they don't control us. If we want to allow more peace, love and joy into our lives, there's ways that we can encourage those emotions and feel those emotions with greater capacity. For instance, the best way to invite joy into your life is to laugh, it’s that simple. Grab your friends, get on YouTube, find some comedy routines, sit down and just have a good laugh, make sure you laugh every day. That actually invites joy into your life.
The best way to express love is to do things that you love. It might be a hobby, spending time with people you love, doing things you love, whatever it is that helps you to express love. These are the things that you need to focus on so that you can express love more readily and on a more regular basis.
Peace, I've talked about this before in other podcast episodes, where the best way to encourage peace is to spend time in nature. Go for a walk on the beach or in the bush, experience the peace of nature without your headphones on and just be in nature. That's the best way to encourage peace.
Now, let’s talk about how we empty the bucket on anger, fear and sadness, because these are the emotions that will overtake you and overwhelm you. These are the ones that we really need to ensure that we process. The easiest one is sadness. You've heard the term having a good cry. The reason it's called a good cry is because a good cry is actually really good for you. Women aren't too bad at doing this. Grab a bunch of girlfriends, put on Titanic or some other equally soppy movie and just have a good cry. It doesn't matter what you're crying about, the actual act of crying will help you to empty your sadness bucket and the more often you do it, the more effective it is. When I say the more often you do it, you didn't actually need to share this. Make a time in your diary and depending on how full your bucket is, it won't take you long to figure it out, will determine how often you need to schedule this.
It might be once a week to start off with, and then perhaps you can drop it back to once a month, but you actually need to schedule this. You don’t necessarily need to put on a sad movie, you can sometimes prepare it yourself. I have a habit of crying in the shower and some mornings I will just stand in the shower and cry, and then you get on with your day and it really helps to process your sadness by having a cry at a time that suits you. We've all had those situations where you just kind of burst into tears at the drop of a hat, for no real reason and that's what I was talking about earlier, where the reaction is greater than the trigger and that's because you're dealing with old grief and old sadness.
If you regularly cry when you schedule it and when you're in control of it, then you're emptying out that sadness bucket and you’ll have capacity, it won’t overwhelm you, it’s not going to overtake you. Men, by society standards tend to struggle with this. We often find men don't know how to express sadness and when their sadness bucket is full, that will often manifest itself as anger. So even though what they're feeling is grief or sadness, or sometimes even fear, it will actually show itself as anger. This is actually one of the reasons why domestic violence is such a problem in our society, because we've got men who are sad and/or frightened and instead of expressing that effectively, they express it as anger and they take that anger out on the people around them. If more men had the ability to actually process their sadness and their fear at a time when they were in control, we'd probably have a lot less issues with domestic violence.
Anger is another one that you need to process, but you need to process it in a way where you're in control. There's an amazing technique that feels a bit strange the first time you do it, but trust me, go with it, it really does work. Again, this is something you need to schedule. Two o'clock on a Thursday afternoon, you need to share in processing your anger. What you need to do is get a punching bag, if you haven’t got one, a couple of pillows will do. Lay the punching bag or pillows on the floor or on the end of your bed. Then I want you to kneel down, with your bottom resting on your heels and resting on your legs and take your hand and make a fist. Use the side of your fist, it’s not about punching something, but about using the side of your fist. Raise your fist above your head, like you’re using an axe and imagine you’re chopping something with an axe. Using a scale of one to 10, I want you to start off in the first round, at a three. Raise your hand above your shoulder and as you’re doing that breathe in through your nose and when you come down, breathe out through your mouth with an audible sound. Remember in this round we’re only at a three out of 10, so this isn’t all out. Do this for about 30 seconds. Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth with an audible sound. Now take a break and see how you feel.
In your second round, dial it up a bit to about a six out of 10. At this point, people usually say to me, “but I don’t feel angry. I’m not angry about anything at the moment”. That’s okay, what we’re doing is training our body to be able to turn our anger on and off at will, rather than your anger controlling you when you don’t want it to, you’re now going to be in control of your anger. You’ll be in a situation where instead of the anger overwhelming you, when you’re feeling angry, you’ll be able to disassociate yourself from the feeling, rather than it controlling you. So, dial it up to six and for 30 seconds, same action, but the sound that you make is going to be a bit louder and the force that you hit the pillow with is going to be harder. Take a break and see how you feel. This is one situation where fake it until you make it actually works. The first few times you do this will feel weird and you’ll think there’s no way this will work, but the more often you do this, you will actually find that the anger comes from somewhere you didn’t even know existed and it can really start to overwhelm you. Have a break and then we’ll go into round three.
The third round, we’ll dial it up again. We're going to go for a 10 out of 10, and you're really going to go to town on those pillows now. Remember to bring your hand up high above your shoulder, because what you're actually doing is, you're opening your chest up and physiologically that is actually going to help you process the anger, so that you can whack those pillows. You're breathing in hard; you've got an audible sound as you're breathing out, you're really going to process this anger. Do that for another 30 seconds and then rest. As I said before, the first few times you do this, you may not even feel anger as you're doing it. You may feel like a complete fraud, but trust me, this is something that you will get used to, and it will become something that you shed into your life and you'll actually process your anger, so that it no longer overwhelms you. Give it a go.
It's really important to empty out your anger bucket, because there's no other way to process your anger. If you process your anger by taking your anger out on somebody else, it's not actually going to empty your anger bucket, it's actually going to put more emotions into your bucket. You need to process your anger in a way that nobody else is impacted.
The last one I want to talk about is fear. I’ll be doing another podcast episode on fear itself. The thing with fear is you need to talk through it. You need to actually feel it, explore it and understand it. Fear that isn't expressed effectively often manifests itself as some kind of panic attack or anxiety.
You can't run away from it, because if you run away from it, it doesn't actually go anywhere, all it does is follow you around and then it comes up when you least expect it. With fear, you actually have to lean into it and feel it. It’s like when you were a kid and you thought there was a monster under your bed, but then you look under the bed and there’s nothing there, the fear disappears. Fear is like that, you have to look at it and explore it, you have to be curious about it. When you do that, you can talk your way through it. It’s essentially a case of looking at fear and saying what is this about? What is the worst thing that can happen? How is it going to manifest itself? What is the likelihood of that? What can I do about it? Just be curious about the feeling and lean into it and allow yourself to feel it, that’s often enough to actually get the fear to dissipate.
If you choose to process your emotions, rather than actually letting them overwhelm you, you will then be in a situation where you're in control and you can then choose how, and when you express your emotions. I hear a lot of times people saying that they don’t have a choice or they couldn’t help it, they were angry at him or her. I saw an episode of Dr Phil once, and he was talking about a married couple who were fighting in front of their children, and he was basically cited saying to them that they shouldn’t ever fight in front of their children. The couple were saying, “well, we can't help it. If I feel angry, what am I supposed to do?” And he said, “okay, imagine you're at a dinner party with the Queen, the President, your nana, anyone else that you have respect for, and imagine you got angry at that point, with something that your wife did, would you express the anger in front of those people?” And the guy said, “well, no, of course I wouldn't. That would be rude”. And he said, “okay, so we've established that you can choose whether you express the anger or not. If you can choose not to express it in front of the Queen, surely you can choose not to express it in front of your children”. And that was a pivotal moment for me, because that was the time when it really crystallized to me that the way we express our emotions is absolutely a choice. We can make a different choice; you don't have to let your emotions overwhelm you.
What I want you to do is have a look at your anger, have a look at your sadness and at your fear and explore how you express those emotions and whether you can get to a point where you're in control and that they’re no longer overwhelming you.
If you have any questions or need to get in touch email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for listening and see you next time.