As this is suicide awareness/prevention month I thought talking about emotions might be helpful. It’s inspiring that there are so many community events, activities and initiatives happening globally. However, it might also be a time when many of us might feel a bit stirred up by the amount of coverage in the media during this time.
I love this quote from Susan David’s book Emotional Agility. “Emotional agility is the ability to be with our emotions, with curiosity and compassion. Research shows that the radical acceptance of all of our emotions, even the difficult messy ones, is the corner stone to resilience, thriving and authentic happiness” Wise words indeed! Having been on an emotional roller coaster myself, and still on it to one degree or another I fully relate to this. So we are human. We are meant to have emotions. They are communication to ourselves – how to respond, what action to take. They are communication human to human. They are data. When we fire up to something on the news, they tell us where our values sit!
But emotions, how they blow our thoughts around! It’s good to remind ourselves here that they are they are information, and not directives! Cultivating mindful awareness around emotions is helpful. A personal invitation to get to know ourselves better, to interject a little pause between the emotion and acting on it, and to expand our window of tolerance to difficult ones.
The theory is all well and good – but “how to” is another story!
I have found this a helpful and practical exercise to build emotional agility.
It’s a simple 4-step process.
NOTICE – FEEL – LABEL – ALLOW
- NOTICE – check in with your emotional barometer. Notice the weather. As it is. What’s on right now? Notice with self- kindness and not shaming ourselves that we shouldn’t be feeling this way.
- FEEL – emotional presence is held in the body. Take a few breaths and tune in. Where do you feel that emotion? Locate it in the body.
- LABEL – narrate to yourself what you are feeling – imagine sticking an emoji on it! Rather that the rigidity of good or bad, be more precise. So instead of I’m stressed, is it anger? guilt? disappointment? fatigue? sadness? When we are more able to tune in, our smart brain can step in to sign post us to helpful actions and behaviour.
- ALLOW – place a comforting hand where you feel the emotion. Self -love here. Try to let it be – don’t deny it. When we push them away they become stronger.
E Motion … is Energy in Motion. Let them pass through. Ride the wave.
ACCEPT – It may be of comfort to remind ourselves that difficult emotions are part of our contract with life. They are normal…. and this approach connects us in compassion human to human.
(PS It’s good to apply this exercise to noticing “feel good” emotions too)
MEDITATION of course is a quiet, just being space, to uncouple from our external world, and tune into our internal world – with interest and curiosity and self- kindness. Just 10 minutes is helpful. You might want to practice noticing, feeling, labelling and allowing during the breathing hands meditation shared in last month’s newsletter. The guided audio can be found in the Creatives Corner on the OLLIE website.
Meditation Made Easy