How often have you driven to work on automatic pilot only vaguely aware of your surroundings? Or listened to the same radio station or podcast with half of your attention. We do the same with our feelings and emotions. If I asked you how you’re feeling at this moment, would you be able to tell me?
One day I decided I’d had enough of feeling sad, of carrying around the burdens of trying to build a new life. I felt I had no answers, knowing nothing but that I was going stir crazy. I didn’t want to die, but I also didn’t really want to do life anymore.
I emptied my fridge and cupboards figuring I’d simply starve myself allowing my body to slowly wither away.
A few hours later my phone rang, “You want to join us at Jade Garden?” You bet! I was in for some good Chinese food. I was hungry. So much for withering away…
Throwing out all my food was one version of numbing out and turning off life for the moment. Fortunately for me, I had friends who showed up unwittingly with just the right antidote. This incident woke me up. It helped me realize I was already feeling a range of emotions – not just lows. In one day I’d hit a low low and bounced to a high enough place to hang out with friends. In a restaurant. In public.
It was time to stop running and start being more deliberate and conscious with my feelings. I was ready to feel pain more consciously and live in each moment, knowing this too would pass.
Knowing Your Emotions can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Below is just one of several tools (I first learned it from Mandy Morris) I’ve used to become present and aware of my emotions in an intentional way.
Two Hour Timer
· Set a timer to go off every two hours for twelve hours
· Check in with what you’re feeling
· Record how you’re emotion(s)
Being aware of feelings can also be scary and difficult. Because of the enormity of the pain, many who are grieving discover they’ve been numbing out, moving through their days as tuned out as possible.
Handling grief, and not handling it, comes in waves. Some days there’s no escaping it and others there’s no solution but escaping it. And often the decision doesn’t feel voluntary – grief is manning the ship. It’s embodying you. And you reach a point in your grief where you no longer want it to embody you, but rather have it sit beside you.
Part of placing grief beside you and moving forward with discovering what kind of future will bring satisfaction and joy, in creating a life that feels good, is knowing how you feel now. Get clear on what brings on bad feelings and which build upon feeling good. By becoming aware of how you are feeling at any given moment, you’ll no longer be so blown and tossed about by your emotions.
More tools for practicing being present are available in the Living in the Moment course.