"I don't like meeting people"
"I get tired when I meet people, and I don't feel like anyone understands me"
"I'm too serious and need to lighten up"
This is what a client said during a recent coaching session.
He said, "When I meet people, I often see parts of them that bother me and I don't like that feeling, but then later it gets worse because I don't like myself for being critical. I need to think about people positively and love them, but I'm too negative, so I tend to avoid meeting people. I think I need to be more lighthearted and less serious."
So I asked:
"What's wrong with getting annoyed by people, is it always true that you have to be positive all the time?"
My client had this look on his face like, "What are you talking about?"
"Is there a right or wrong to how we feel? We've been trained that way and subconsciously think we should only feel positive emotions!"
It's not so much the emotions that cause unhappiness as the mindset that believes we shouldn't feel certain emotions.
After a session full of questions and reflective awareness to identify the client's current state versus his imagined ideal state, and where his emotions and expectations were coming from, it seemed like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. It was a session where one small shift in perspective made a big difference.
"I feel like I've been in such a hurry to fix what I think is wrong and live a life of constantly filling in the gaps, but I don't think I've ever stopped to wonder if those "wrong" things are really wrong. I feel like I've just been living under the oppression that I'm not supposed to feel certain emotions, which has allowed those emotions to grow and become a source of unhappiness."
"There's a lot of information in the emotions we feel every day."
For example, if I'm afraid of something, it's usually because it's important to my life.
Fear of losing loved ones,
Fear of failing in business,
Fear of a bad reputation,
Fear of not being a good wife,
Fear of losing my health.
What do these fears have in common?
If I'm afraid of any of these things It's because they're important to me.
I am not afraid of losing people that I don't love, and I would not be afraid of my reputation if I don't value it. Fear is more of a signal of what's important to us than an emotion to be eliminated.
It's not just fun and happy emotions that matter.
All the emotions we experience are equally important.
Emotions are a movement [of energy].
Like all energy, it flows and it has to flow.
It's important to recognize it, accept it, and let it flow.
An approach that treats all flowing emotions as pathological symptoms and tries to eliminate them unconditionally can be dangerous.
It's like cutting off the yellow leaves on a plant that has yellow leaves and praying that it will never have yellow leaves again. If you keep having yellow leaves, the first step is to wonder why and find out.
Another name for "peace" is "boredom"
Another name for "worry" is "wanting to do well"
Do these two words sound absolutely positive or negative to you?
We are the masters of our emotions.
If you feel an emotion, you need to accept it and process how it feels in your body so that it passes without lingering.
All the unhappiness we experience in life comes from "resistance" to feeling certain emotions. A lot of us tend to believe that anger or sadness should never happen, and when they do, they become more vocal.
Have you ever experienced this?
"I'm so angry that I'm angry"
"I'm so sad that I'm sad right now"
"I'm so annoyed that I'm annoyed"
This happens because your mind tells you that you shouldn't feel angry, sad, or annoyed. It's like going through an emotion twice when you only need to go through it once!
If you're feeling this way, try a sentence [thought] like this
"Oh, I'm experiencing the emotion of anger right now, it must be difficult"
"Oh, I'm experiencing the emotion of sadness right now, and it's okay!"
"I am experiencing the emotion of annoyance right now."
This kind of acknowledgment and acceptance is magical and calming. From that state, if you look closely with curiosity, you realize that anger is coming from fear and you will recognize that the fear is only in your "thoughts".
Understanding, accepting, and releasing emotions can be difficult at first. Like any language learning or exercise, it gets easier with repetition and practice.
In fact, many people believe so strongly in being kind to people that if they notice anything in their behavior or emotions that contradict this, they see themselves as bad people and feel guilty.
We feel jealous of others and repress or ignore it because we think "jealousy is a bad emotion" or "I shouldn't feel jealousy". However, repressing or ignoring feelings doesn't make them go away. In fact, it often makes it worse.
Instead, you can recognize the emotion you are experiencing in this situation and ask with curiosity.
"I'm feeling jealous right now!"
"Why am I feeling this way? "
"What is important to me that is causing me to feel this way?"
"What do I fear?"
Jealousy -> Hate oneself for feeling jealous [self-blame] -> Jealousy of someone who doesn't seem to be jealous -> Self-blame
We can choose to turn that into:
jealousy -> recognition -> acceptance -> resolution
This is why it's important to look at your unconscious thoughts and recognize them, whether through writing or coaching.
Acknowledging and accepting your feelings is about caring for your well-being and giving yourself permission to be "human" and from that space, you become a person who is more receptive and accepting of other people's emotions.
In the end, all the emotions we feel are part of the life we experience as humans, and recognizing and accepting them is the beginning of healing.
If you're having trouble recognizing these patterns because you're too close to your own life to see them, feel free to contact us if you need the help of a professional coach.