feel like you belong anywhere - Step 4


Understanding Emotions


One of the most difficult things to do as a human being is to look beyond all our emotional baggage. As we discussed in the “beliefs” part of this program, we carry buttons around with us which makes us live from reaction to reaction and we never get to see a situation for what it really is.

From that section we learned that we are responsible for our own inner space and that nobody can make us feel or do anything. Nobody can make you angry, jealous, etc. It is a choice. No matter what happens to you, you can always choose how to act or to re-act (act as you did last time).

We also learned that nobody can do anything to you and that even in an act of violence, it is your choice as to how to deal with it, you can choose to be the victim or you can choose to let it make you stronger.

In the "what are you thinking" section we learned that there is a difference between allowing yourself to feel a feeling and wallowing in it and letting it run your life. Sometimes you want to feel sad, angry, lonely, scared, etc. and that is not a bad thing, it is just you having a human experience but when you start suffering as a result of it, then it becomes something to address. For example,  I miss my dog vs it’s my fault my dog died.


Becoming aware of your emotions

Emotions are a physical reaction in your body. When you are scared, your adrenal glands secrete adrenaline, which makes you feel anxious, sweaty, out of breath and trembly. These symptoms are known as “fear”. All emotions are a  physical or mental reaction and are created by chemical compounds within the body, which are released upon certain triggers within the brain.

The soul does not know what an emotion is. The soul only knows love. This is not the same as the “love” we experience from endorphins being released into our blood, we are talking about unconditional love here, which means it has no reason for being and no condition upon which it exists. 

When we are under the influence of stress, anger or worry we cannot think straight so if we want to be in control of our reactions we have to learn to relax, take a step back and then choose our response taking into consideration the feelings of the other person involved and whether your response has any effect (good / bad / at all) on the situation. If it is not going to change anything at all, it may not be worth your while to put yourself through all that drama and this can only be assessed when you are in a space of rational thinking. Learning to control your moods and emotions is a very important thing to learn as it gives you insight into many situations and life becomes much easier and smoother.

To overcome emotions, right thinking needs to be practiced and you need to become aware of what beliefs and buttons are ruling your reactions. This takes a lot of self-discipline and honesty within yourself. It is easier to go back into old habits and patterns and react the way you used to so therefore it is vital to keep observing ourselves from an outside perspective at all times.

The first step to understanding emotions is to observe them. Observe emotions in other people. Watch how they over react, get angry, feel sorry for themselves, etc and then see where you do the same thing. Start noticing how you are feeling. If you are feeling angry, acknowledge it. If you are feeling sad, say “I am feeling sad”. Expressing it helps to separate the emotion from you so that you don’t become it. Then, feel it. Feel where in your body it sits. You can even give it a texture, colour and shape if you like.

Observe why whatever happened, triggered you like it did.  Think about what other ways in which you could have reacted? What made you react in the way you did? See every experience as an opportunity to reflect in and learn about yourself.

What works really well is to ask someone close to you to use a trigger word when you get caught up in your emotions. This word can be anything that will make you snap out of it but not increase your frustration. “Remember”, “Belief” or “Love” are always good ones where “stop it” or “snap out of it” has the potential to make it worse. You will be amazed how these trigger words can pull you out of the emotion that was busy swallowing you just a minute ago.


When do emotions become a problem?

We have emotions for a reason, to experience life more deeply and we don’t want to get rid of them and become emotionless zombies. We are human beings having a human experience and that comes with the package. What we do want to eliminate however is suffering and that is when our emotions are in control of us and we don’t know how to make them go away. Here are some common emotions we get trapped in that can cause us a great deal of suffering.


Anger

Anger is a defense mechanism and is not a bad thing when used as needed. It is our way of protecting ourselves and kicks in when we feel someone or something has power over us. In other words, the chemical reaction of anger is triggered by powerlessness.   This can be in a physical scenario or in an emotional scenario. In an emotional scenario it is normally when we feel like we don’t have control over a situation and it is not turning out the way we want. For example, it will be triggered by embarrassment, being undermined, being taken advantage of, being disrespected or being walked over. These are all situations where something or someone has control over us and anger takes that control back or at least attempts to.

Therefore, when looking to identify our emotions it is important to look for an underlying emotion and not to get stuck on labeling it anger or even frustration or rage but rather to look at what caused it. Where and for what reason where you feeling powerless and out of control?


Depression

Although depression can be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain it is still a condition of hopelessness, sadness, fearfulness and lack of ambition, which is as a result of our thoughts. In the “What are you thinking” part of the program we covered this in detail. When you can become aware of these thoughts you can break the pattern and become free.

Anthony Robbins talks about the crazy 8 phenomenon where the cycle between anger and depression is repeated over and over again.

When stuck in this syndrome you may be down in depression for a while feeling hopeless, weak, fearful, sad and lonely. When you get tired of this and attempt to gain some sort of control (subconsciously) you become angry. The anger charges you with energy and you feel strong, powerful, significant and in control. But then you get worn out and go back into the depression again. And so it continues like the pattern of an 8, up into anger and down into depression over and over again without you even noticing it.

Each swing is designed to give us control where we otherwise feel powerless.


Anxiety

Anxiety can be caused by a number of things:

  1. A result of being “in-between” the past or the future and the present. You are neither here nor there. In the physical you are in the present but in your mind you are either in the past or in the future. You are worrying about the future and how something may turn out or you are wishing to change the past. The best remedy for this is to change the thoughts to something positive and to focus on that instead of all the negative outcomes you are conjuring up in your head. Even if the worst happens, you can still control how you think and feel about it. Remember also that everything ends eventually and nothing is forever so whatever situation you are so anxious about will pass whether or not you worry about it.
  2. Not being in control. If we try to control everything we will always feel anxious because it is impossible to do so. Sometimes we really just have to learn to relax and focus on what positive things could happen instead of focusing on the negative.
  3. Boredom. When you have nothing that you are passionate about and no sense of purpose or reason for living you may suffer from boredom more than anything else. This also leads to a feeling of needing something but not knowing what.
  4. Resisting an emotion. When you try to push down an emotion without exploring and addressing it, anxiety is caused. It is a feeling of “not knowing how you feel”. There is just something missing, something you need but don’t know how to get or cannot access. Common results of this kind of anxiety is depression or addictions.

Addictions

When we are not in control of our thoughts and are run by automatic emotions, responses and anxiety, our normal state of being consists of a continuous low hum of unease, discontent, boredom or nervousness – a kind of background static. This feeling is not knowing what we need but needing it desperately and leads us to try anything to make it stop. Sex, alcohol, drugs, TV, shopping, etc kills or dulls this hum and we forget about it for a short while. This is how addictions are formed.

As soon as we start feeling that anxiety again, we need something to get rid of it again.

When we go into “I need it” mode we are so focused on getting it that we will go to any extreme to get it. In order to eliminate the guilt that comes with it we may try to manipulate others into telling us its OK and find justifiable reasons to make it OK. When we don’t get our way it is easier to blame someone and say they are controlling us than to take responsibility for ourselves.

For as long as you want it, there is a problem. It is a desire that is controlling you and you cannot see beyond it. You cannot see how it is a problem and how it is affecting you and others around you. It makes you focus so much on it that you will even lie to yourself.

What most of us fail to see is that we are not winning when we get it, we win when we resist it! The desire and the anxiety is like a two year old throwing a tantrum. If you give into it, it will just scream louder next time. It has to stop eventually and if you ignore it long enough it will.

Resist it at least long enough to figure out what the feeling is you are trying to suppress and working so hard not to feel. Sometimes just feeling it fully can be liberating and insightful. Just be in the anxiety, in that feeling of needing something but not knowing what. Remember that it is not the alcohol or the drugs, or the shopping spree or that piece of chocolate cake that you need. It is something else. Those things only relieve you for a short while and distracts you from what you really need, which is peace within yourself. 

Addiction is often from the root emotion of shame. The guilt (which becomes depression or anger and then anxiety) is so completely overpowering. The thought behind it may be something like “I am a failure” or “I am unlovable” or “nobody will ever forgive me” or “I am a terrible person”,  which only creates negative feelings, actions of failure and a reality of being a failure. So maybe you are disappointed that you behaved in certain ways in the past or that certain things happened to you. It is time to leave it in the past, to move on and to create a new successful you who deserves good things and a good life. Find a thought that can support this and can override the negative thoughts and feelings and use it whenever you feel this way to override the old, destructive thoughts. 

Addictions like eating, drinking, spending , working, worrying, gossiping, procrastinating and “bad behaviour” is supported by thoughts like “it feels good to spend” , "it feels good to eat”, "it feels good to be in control of someone else”, or “any attention is good” which results in negative action. Find a positive thought that can override it. Find something that feels better like “It feel good to be healthy” or “it feels good to have savings”.


Pay offs

Pay offs are something that we gain from doing something. In every situation that someone claims to not want to be in but does nothing to get out of, there is a payoff. The same applies for emotions we are holding onto. If we didn’t want them there, they would be gone long ago, therefore there must be a payoff. If you can’t control your emotional state, it means you are addicted to those emotions. There is a need to feel that emotion for some reason.

Here is an example of the pay off one gets from being angry all the time:

Being angry all the time is easier than trying to be nice all the time. You are in constant defense mode and nobody can hurt you. You never have to be nice or feel anything apart from your anger. If you stay angry long enough you convince yourself that nobody cares about you. That makes you independent and you don’t need anyone anymore.

For example: a child with an absent parent. The child will long for a parent that has left until he or she comes to a point where they realize that, that person doesn’t care about them. They will then take on the attitude of “if you don’t care about me, I won’t care about you”. Deciding this they can finally stop the waiting for the person to return but take on anger instead of longing which makes then feel powerful instead of powerless but this can easily be the beginning of a crazy 8 cycle as discussed earlier. 

At a moment of anger, you feel no love so you don’t want to be with the person you are angry at. Therefore if you are angry all the time you won’t miss someone anymore, and your payoff is to be completely independent and avoid the pain of rejection. Just a pity you are so dependent on the anger to mask your pain.

Anger gives you a lot of power because by being angry you can control everything and everyone and make sure everything goes your way. This makes you feel safe. Everyone will do as you say to prevent you from acting in anger.

Here is an example of the pay off one gets from being extremely overweight to the extent that you cannot move:

You can tell everybody that you have tried everything and nothing works, so they accept you and also feel sorry for you.

You don’t have to do anything, everyone will do it for you.

There are no expectations for you to lose weight.

You can tell everyone how difficult it is.

Every day is the same (since you have limited yourself so much) so you have that security of nothing unexpected happening.

It gives you a sense of being bigger and stronger. This need is often as a result of some form of abuse.

It keeps the opposite sex away from you. Another result of abuse, most often sexual abuse.

Payoff for helping people at your own expense:

Many people seem to be so generous and always go to the end of the earth to help other people. Not only does this give them tremendous self-worth (because it makes them feel they have a purpose), it also makes them feel powerful when they can help other people. They have the power to make someone happy, change their lives and be the hero. This power can become quite addictive. Even though you feel you need to help everyone, you are not doing either of you a favor. You are interfering with other people’s lessons and could be disempowering them by making them dependent on you.

If there is something you are struggling to let go of, search for what your pay off might be. You’ll have to be very honest with yourself to recognize or admit what it is. Once you admit it, it doesn’t have to be a part of you anymore, you can let it go.


Other people’s baggage that influences you

If you’ve ever walked into a room full of miserable people, you will know that unhappiness spreads more easily than any physical disease.

Sometimes people are so stuck in their issues that it is difficult to be around them and not get sucked into it. Remember that you always have a choice on your own reaction. You cannot always control other people’s choices but you can definitely control how you want it to influence you. Don’t be hurt by other people’s choices; that would be choosing to be involved. Rather remove yourself from it if you don’t like it. Remember that being a victim is a choice. One where you give your power to the victimizer. You can always choose how you want to be affected by something that has happened “against you”. You can either remove yourself from the situation or you can remove your emotional involvement from the situation. I am by no means saying that we should avoid emotions, just that we have a choice on how to use the experience. You are only a victim if you decide you are.

You could always use the situation to make you stronger, not to make you weaker.

You always have a choice, even the choice to be powerless and pretend that you didn’t have a choice.

You may not be able to change your experiences but you can change your beliefs and then your experiences or perception of your experiences will automatically change with that.

Remember also that life places you at a point of “rotten choices only” when you are about to make a major breakthrough in your experience of who you are. “Bad” experiences help us grow and without them we would take much longer to learn what we need to. When you are facing tough choices, it is always an announcement from your soul to your body that your entire being is taking a leap forward. You are shifting into a whole new experience. Turning a page. This is always difficult in the beginning but if you stay positive, you will see how far you have come and how much better things are now than they ever were.

Depression and anxiety often has anger lying under it. So go there. Go into the anger. Then go into the underlying emotion.
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