I was speaking to a client of mine this week who was telling me that as a result of the work we had been doing together, she is much more in tune with herself, much more comfortable and has found that she is much more able to express her feelings openly. She even told me that she had actually cried when watching a documentary on television in the week.
When she told me this, it reminded me of a time a year after I had finished University. I had begun my studying in the world of personal development and made lots of changes to how I was with myself. I had also become much more comfortable with tuning in and accepting my own feelings.
It was Christmas that year, I decided to tour the
It was Christmas Eve and I wanted to be in top shape for the festivities and so decided that a nap was in order for the afternoon and told my Mum that I would be awake in time for dinner.
I settled into bed, got snug and flicked on the TV to find Mary Poppins was on; heck it was Christmas! A few minutes later, up on the screen was the scene where the children see the lady singing "feed the birds" and it is a marvellous song that Julie Andrews sings. Deeply fatigued, unnecessarily emotional, I found that I began shedding tears at how lovely it all was!!
At that moment, my Mum popped her head around the door to check if I was ok and had everything I needed and naturally enquired "are you ok Adam? Why are you crying, is everything alright?" To which I sobbingly replied, "M-M-Mary P-Poppins is on a-a-and it is-s-s soooo-oh-oh lovely..."
My Mum gave me that sincere, sympathetic motherly smile and went about her day and I eventually dozed off and began sawing logs for the afternoon.
I sat down with my family for dinner that evening whereby every member of my family began laughing out loud! My "sympathetic" Mum had in fact told everyone that I was upstairs crying in front of Mary Poppins! Realising the humour as they saw it, I laughed away too.
Acknowledging Your Feelings:
The reason I mention this is because since I began working in these various fields of personal development I have always encouraged myself to be open with my emotions and find it useful to feel comfortable displaying emotion and knowing what I am actually feeling inside my body.
Even today, when watching certain things on TV such as the Paralympics, I find myself moved to tears with some of the efforts and joy experienced by the competitors.
Now, prior to and during my initial training and learning, I was quite unsure about myself in many ways! I experimented with lots of the things I learned with self-hypnosis and different aspects of the standard NLP approaches to overcome this uncertainty and lack of confidence in my ability to do what I wanted to do, but none of them seemed to work for me. I still got those butterflies in my tummy and lacked a real sense of self-esteem, in fact I felt nervous about doing what I wanted to do (what if it all went wrong and I failed!!).
I had spent some time fighting the anxious feeling, then one day I decided to do something that I had been reading about and so I told myself “Adam, just experience it, stop resisting it, stop fighting it; just feel it” and an amazing thing happened.
I felt the nervous feeling, I was very aware of it, tuned in to it and then it disappeared! I was shocked. All those previous months and years of fighting it, and all that I really needed to do was to feel it. I acknowledged it and stopped resisting the feeling.
Doing this is heightening your own awareness of your own map of the world is a very beneficial process. It is tuning in to yourself.
One of the presuppositions of NLP that I learnt at that early stage of my own personal development is ‘meet people at their map of the world’. This is a process of seeing things from the point of view of others or being aware of their experience. It helps with rapport building, relationship development and so on.
Now, I was fine at doing this with other people and my successful therapeutic consultancy over the years has been solid proof to me of that, but before all that started, all those years ago, I suddenly realised that I had not been meeting myself at MY map of the world. I had not really been tuning in to ME!
Whenever I felt feelings that I did not like, I would struggle, resist and fight them, and you know what they say: When you fight with yourself, someone always loses, and that someone is you. So I decided to stop fighting and resisting my feelings and instead to acknowledge them and start working with them.
Where am I going with all this then?
Five Steps To Changing Feelings:
Step One: If there is a feeling that you find unpleasant or that seems unhelpful or that you just plain don’t like, firstly, map out the feeling. This is just a process of identifying where in your body that feeling is, really locate that feeling in your body. Now think about what size it is, how it moves; I used to have a fluttering feeling in the pit of my tummy that as I resisted it more would spread into my chest and back down again.
Really be aware of the feeling physiologically, even think about what temperature it is, you can even take it a step further and think about what colour it would be if it had one. Decipher its qualities.
While most people profess to know what they are feeling, you would be amazed at how many people have not got in the slightest bit acquainted with the physical characteristics of the emotions they are experiencing; they just let them happen passively without really getting an awareness of them. What’s more, many of us then resist them or fight them and refuse to let them occur.
Emotions are physical (they are chemicals, hormones and all sorts of other things too), so the first step is to map out that physicality.
Step Two: Next up, accept the feeling. Become OK with the fact that you are feeling it.
Of course, this can be a bit of a struggle for some people, who will no doubt say “But I don’t want to feel it” or “I shouldn’t be feeling it.”
I know some of you are thinking that.
So here is the thing: you are feeling it, and if you want to change the feelings quickly, the most expedient way to do it is to meet yourself at your map of the world and accept that presenting feeling that you are having. If you refuse to do this, then you are just resisting it or fighting it as I was doing (in the days before I started crying in front of Mary Poppins!). Then any attempt to change it will involve starting from where you aren’t, and that rarely works out well.
Step Three: Then, you find the positive intent. What is your body or your unconscious trying to tell you?
Sometimes feelings have a message of some sort for us. Other times, they’re just sensations that our body has some purpose for feeling. What (if anything) is this feeling doing for you or trying to tell you?
Step Four: Feel it. Just feel it. Be sure not to struggle or fight, just feel it. Remember to breathe too while feeling it!
You don’t have to do this for long, but it is really good to feel something. Even if it feels bad, the fact that you can feel it means that you are alive (woo-hoo!) and it also means that you are in touch with how you feel. These are both good things to be able to acknowledge and realise within yourself. Often, just accepting and realising a feeling is putting it in a vastly different perspective.
Step Five: The final part of this process is to then play with the feeling.
Increase the feeling’s intensity. Then reduce it. If it was one colour, make it another, if it was moving in a certain direction, move it in another, if it was a certain size, enlarge it or make it smaller, basically, have a play with it and discover just how much influence you have over this feeling. I think you will be surprised when you realise just how much influence you really do have. I used to imagine that in my mind I had a control panel that looked like a huge mixing desk that you see in music studios and I was subsequently turning the sliders down of feelings that I had previously resisted.
One of the things you’ll begin to find as you start to experience is just how much it’s possible for you to get a handle on your feelings. You may well discover for yourself that feelings aren’t true or false. Maybe they don’t really mean anything. They are just sensations that you are experiencing in your body. If you resist them, they’ll be there for some time, but if you accept them, you can start to play with them and change them.
Does this mean you’ll not have a bad feeling ever again? Nope. Feelings will come and feelings will go, but what it does mean is that you can start to have more and more of the sorts of feelings you want to have. I know that whatever you are wanting to do in life, you’ll be wanting to punctuate your life with more and more good feelings, am I right?
So, enjoy your day today and make sure that you are spreading some good feelings into your life.