I was paralyzed. I couldn’t move my arms. I couldn’t focus. All I could do was imagine the worse case scenario – what will happen when I get hate mail? What if somebody disagrees with my point of view? I stood up and went for water. Then I cleaned the bedroom. Then the kitchen.
I checked Facebook…just in case (for 3 hours). I didn’t want to face it: the fear of putting myself out there and the doubt that I was not good enough. It took me 4 days to write one post, which ended up going right to the forgotten content ocean of Facebook. A lot of drama, and little result. Can you relate?
I was just starting to put myself out there as a coach and I really wanted to help more women get out of their own way. But yet, I had a hard time getting out of my own way (yes, we all have blind spots!).
Since then, I learned the secret to freedom–focus on managing your own feelings and emotions instead of trying to control what is going on around you. The truth is, you can’t control what somebody else will do, how they will react, or how an event will turn out.
You can do your best to contribute to the desired outcome, but other than that, it is really out of your hands.
When you learn to manage and let go of the feelings that are not serving you, you allow yourself to move forward and continue on your desired path, no matter what happens in the external.
How powerful is that?
We all have emotions we wish we didn’t. No matter how much we try not to feel fear, anger, sadness, they will always be there from time to time. It’s okay, those emotions are valid. The question is – how do we deal with them?
Here is what I discovered based on my own and my clients’ experience on embracing our negative emotions to better let them go, and become unstoppable toward our goals.
1. Understand Your Triggers
Have you ever been in a situation where you were really triggered by an incident and somebody else was completely calm? Or somebody next to you experienced deep fear about something and you didn’t?
We interpret emotions based on our personal beliefs and perceptions. These are relative to each of us, and so is the way we experience them.
This doesn’t mean that they are not important or not real. However, I strongly believe that knowing where our feelings and emotions come from, and knowing that they define OUR reality and not necessarily THE reality, puts things in perspective when dealing with them.
In that matter, awareness is key. It is instrumental to the process – we need to know what we are working with. Being able to identify our emotions is a huge part of dealing with them.
When you are in the gist of feeling, observe your thoughts and sensations as if they were detached from you.
What thoughts come to mind?
On a scale of 1 to 10, how intense is it?
Where do you feel it in our body?
This will help to have a more neutral approach toward the emotion – and see it for what it is: a temporary feeling.
2. Be Compassionate
You are human. We are humans. Humans have emotions, positive ones and negative ones. This is completely normal and NOBODY is immune to that.
We all have different reasons and triggers to feel negative emotions. A lot of us try to distract ourselves to be able to cope with it (ex: emotional eating, social media binge, etc.) or, some others would ‘feel bad about feeling bad’, which perpetuate the cycle. Can you relate?
Here is an idea: have compassion for yourself. You are feeling bad about something…that sucks. You don’t need to beat yourself up on top of that. Being compassionate with yourself can mean:
- pausing to acknowledge what you are feeling
- making sure that your basic needs are fulfilled
- letting it out in the shape or form that suits us (journaling, voice memos, talking to a trusted friend, etc)
Compassion is key to improve your relationships, including the one with yourself.
3. Accept the Present Moment
With compassion comes acceptance. Acknowledging the emotion and accepting that it is there, without attaching a specific meaning to it, is very important in order to let it go.
It doesn’t mean that you are weak.
It doesn’t mean that you are not good enough.
It doesn’t mean that the world is coming to an end.
It just means that you are feeling bad at this moment in time. Period.
Okay, so you feel X (insert negative emotion). That sucks, but it is what it is. Now, what do you do with this?
It is incredible how our busyness sometimes leaves us forgetting about our most basic needs – like breathing.
Often, when we feel negative emotions, our muscles contract, or our bodies close up. Making the deliberate effort to breathe deeply will help to ease the discomfort.
It helps to stay grounded and present.
5. Ask, How Is This Serving Me?
Depending on the emotion and its intensity, you may choose to deal with it differently. If you are heartbroken, you may choose to let it out, and work on compassion and acceptance until you judge that the emotion is not serving you anymore, so you are ready to move on.
There is a slight nuance in here, between holding on to a negative emotion (like throwing a pity party for yourself) and genuinely mourning and taking care of yourself while the discomfort slowly fades away.
A helpful question to ask yourself in those moments is: how is this emotion serving me?
For example, it may be trying to protect you; it may try to keep you still, for fear of change.
Once you get the answer, you are in a much better position to know if you should take action on it at that moment, or not.
6. Shift It And Take Action
If you are feeling fear about a task you want to do (hello procrastination!), you may want to go through this process quickly to get going asap. So you’ll want to shift it.
Interrupt your thoughts and start thinking about something you are grateful for.
Are you grateful for a connection you made? Are you grateful for your family? Are you grateful for waking up in the morning?
Take advantage of that state of gratefulness and take action right away – go do that task, send that email, make that call, set that meeting, etc.
Here is the catch (and where people fall off the wagon): You may have to do this 500 times in a row (I may be exaggerating….or am I?). You may feel fear, shift your thinking, and yet, 5 minutes later…it comes back and you need to do it again.
This is normal. But I promise, the more you practice the shift, the easier it will get. Maybe tomorrow you’ll only have to shift it 499 times! That’s a win!
You may still feel the physical discomfort of the emotion, but you take it for what it is: a temporary discomfort which you can engage with or not. Acknowledge it and gently let go–no matter how many times you need to.
Be kind to yourself as you go through difficult moments, and they will be easier to handle. You are human and you have the right to feel. You are strong and able to deal with whatever is coming your way.
And this is how you become unstoppable!
This is a guest post by Genevieve Pepin, an accredited life coach who helps women develop an empowering mindset, regain their confidence and design their best life. Visit her website.