A dripping tap left unchecked can become the source of a major leak over time. The beautiful photo above demonstrates the colossal power of water en masse as it freewheels into the Milford Sound in New Zealand. Emotions can gather momentum just like a waterfall … powerfully escalating into a force to be reckoned with.
Rev it up, cut them off, suppress or express?
People are often told to suppress and control their surging emotions like anger or fear. Sometimes people try to control others who may be expressing passion and excitement. They’re told to tone themselves down. To manage or control something implies a force to fix it. Just like damming up water … it will create more force and thrust when it eventually overflows. Emotions left unchecked are just like that.
Sometimes people cut off feelings in the decision making process because they’ve been told not to let their emotions interfere with reason.
Rather than cut feelings off, suppress them, minimise them, ignore them or even overindulge and wallow in them, to navigate is to find our way through. Navigating Emotions is finding our way through feelings to access the wisdom and energy they offer.
This is about assessing, harnessing and transforming emotions. Instead of being lost in a sea of emotion and going up the escalator of emotion, this skill lets us tap the energy and information in feelings to find the wisdom that lives within.
So what can we do to navigate emotion more effectively?
3 practices for navigating a sea of emotion
- Take early action
Navigating emotions is an emotional process so discussing it ‘rationally’ won’t shift anything.
The biggest issue is people wait too long. As time goes by, feelings become more complex and intense. The second biggest issue is people try to walk over or rush past their feelings.
If you feel something and don’t do anything about it, it will just get bigger and not go away. Noticing it early makes it easier to deal with. It’s a case of pay now or pay more later.
- VET your feelings
Here is a simple three step process for navigating any emotion:
1. Validate: Be aware and then move into acceptance of it (not good or bad, right or wrong; your feeling is a simple fact)
2. Explore: Ask yourself … what is the value of it? What is it telling me?
3. Transform: Once you have validated and explored the feeling, this happens easily. What do you want to be feeling next?
- Reduce the intensity
Building on the skills of other posts in this series, tuning into our feelings on a regular basis will have created awareness. To reduce the intensity of any feeling you can use breathing, shifting your focus or shifting your state by taking a break, considering a new perspective, observing the ridiculousness of it all, choosing a more empowering interpretation or simply taking a walk. Any physical movement will be a state changer. Focus on tuning in to yourself and take steps to reduce the intensity of any overwhelming feeling.
Look out for more upcoming posts in this EQ Series.
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