"Look at what you bring to the world, not what you lack." - Miranda Kate

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Negative Emotion Addiction: How to Recognise & Release it

Image of the sky and clouds reflected in water with text: Feel your emotions, then put them on the canvas of sky and let them float away
Do you ever feel anxious suddenly, and without reason?

Do you ever get a bad feeling come on, but you don't know why?

Do you get stuck feeling bad all the time, but don't really know why?

Much like any addiction, Negative Emotion Addiction can be both physical and mental. If we repeatedly experience a negative emotion, it can become habit forming, and our bodies can reflect it as much as our minds.

Through some personal work I was doing I discovered that I have a negative emotion addiction to emotions like Dread, Envy, and Inadequacy. These come up for me both consciously and unconsciously.

The one that I notice the most is Dread, as it manifests physically. On any given day it will appear out of nowhere showing up as a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, as though something has gone wrong - or is about to.

I check myself: Am I missing something? Have I forgotten to do something?
I check the clock: Am I meant to be somewhere? Am I supposed to be fetching one of my children?
I check the calendar: Is there an appointment I should be attending, or a phone call I should be making?

I run through it all, making sure I haven’t forgotten something that will cause a problem later. When I realise I haven’t missed anything and I have no reason for feeling this way, I release it, letting the feeling go, reassuring myself that all is well. 

This is an emotion I felt as a child on a daily basis throughout my entire childhood until I left home. Being a child of domestic violence this emotion was present several times a day, or all day long. It is an emotion formed round a fear of knowing something dreadful is about to happen, coupled with a feeling of insecurity about the unpredictability of it - what will happen exactly, and when?

In my current life there is no reason for me to be experiencing this emotion any more, so I recognise it as being a sort of 'residual' emotion, like part of a withdrawal symptom, now I am no longer experiencing it daily. Each time the feeling arises I consciously undo it and let it go, and in doing that I work to end the recurrence of it.  

“If negative emotions arise you can watch them fly over you like debris floating in the wind.” – Unknown 

Some might say it is a form of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and it may be, but as it is only a feeling and not brought on by a flashback or memory, I recognise it as something my body is so used to feeling it simply reproduces it without a trigger. 

However, when I experience Envy it’s more conscious. A steam of thoughts will fill my head: wishing that I had what others had, wishing I was doing what others were doing. It can be about a friendship, a personality trait, a job, but always comparing myself to others, either personally or their living situation. These thoughts can bring about a physical reaction too, again a sick feeling in the stomach much like dread. But I have to consciously stop the spiral of these thoughts otherwise they can grow into larger more negative emotions, like paranoia, anger, or sadness. 

To stop these thoughts I focus on what I do have, and how much I have. I think about all the things I like about my life, and about myself, and what I have to offer in any friendship, relationship, or job. And to continue moving away from these feelings I remind myself that what I believe others have is an assumption and not a reality.  

“Everything we see is a perspective, not a truth.” – Marcus Aurelius  

For me, envy is an emotion born out of a childhood of lack where I felt like I was the only person suffering, and others had much more than me – often not in the material sense, but in the emotional sense: love, happiness, security, sense of belonging, and stability. These were missing from my life as I was growing up and they led me into feelings of inadequacy: I felt I didn’t deserve these things, that I wasn’t good enough, that I was doing something wrong, or being punished. 

I spent a lot of time feeling this way as a child, and it caused a great deal of sadness, and anxiety for me. I got used to feeling that way too; it became my constant, and sometimes my comfort. I would fall into a victim mindset, and find it hard to see what a negative effect these feelings had on the rest of my life. I struggled to sustain friendships and relationships and didn’t understand why people didn’t want to be in my company. I had become toxic to them – and to myself – much like an addict.

But like any addiction it is possible to break the habit: there is a process. Although for a Negative Emotion Addiction it is not so much giving up something as becoming aware of it and letting it go.
Over the years I have changed my thought process and perspective, so now when I experience these negative emotions I follow these steps:

- Become conscious of them;
- Recognise what they are;
- Check they no longer apply;
- Release them, and let them go.

We must learn to question the validity of our recurring negative emotions. We need to ask ourselves: Are these emotions something I am simply used to feeling? Do I need to still be feeling this? Is it still relevant in my life now?

In doing this we can slowly recover from their effects and make room for more positive thoughts and feelings - ones we want to become addicted to.

Are there any negative emotions you might be addicted to? Let me know in the comments below.

I discovered NEA through my work with Norval Rhodes doing Energy Healing

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Releasing the Power of Choice: How To See You Always Have One

Image of white and purple rhododendrons flowers in full bloom with text: A fresh perspective opens an array of choices
How often do you see the choice in what you do? Are you going through life believing that you don’t have many choices? Have you ever been put off doing something because you felt you had to do it?

How many of us tell ourselves we ‘should’ do something because we believe it is what our friends, family, or partner want us to do?

At my very first therapy appointment, my therapist told me that I didn’t have to like the village I had moved to. He told me I had a choice and it was okay not to like it. This came as a complete shock to me, because I had believed that I didn’t have a choice.

The most common way people give up their power, is by thinking they don’t have any. - Alice Walker

I am a city girl and I moved to a foreign speaking country and village, to be with my partner. It was where he had grown up and where all his friends and family lived – a large close-knit community. My husband loved it there, and so did all his friends and family, so when I struggled to settle there too – due to mixture of not feeling welcome or included - I felt like there was something wrong with me, that I was letting my husband down; I felt like a failure. These feelings were then compounded by my partner’s flat refusal to move to anywhere else, putting the onus on me to find a way to accept living there if I wanted to stay with him.

So when my therapist showed me that I didn’t have to like it there, when I realised there was a choice, and I was allowed not to like it there, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Suddenly I was able to make a decision about the place for myself, rather than feel it had been decided for me. I was able to think about it objectively rather than having it forced on me.

"Freedom is realising you have a choice." - T. F. Hodge

It had been expected of me to like living there. I had felt pressured and been given no time to decide for myself, which had made me resent the place before I’d even given it a chance. When I saw I had a choice, I was able to look at it from a whole new perspective and ask myself whether I did actually like it or not, something I hadn’t done up to that point (some six years later!).

This then extended into other areas of my life. Whenever I found myself feeling resentful about a ‘have to’ situation I would rephrase it in my head, asking myself what other choices I had.

Situations like:

- Going along to a coffee morning to meet other mother’s from my children’s school class. I felt I should go, to be sociable and friendly; I felt like it was expected of me. When I realised that I had a choice, and that I didn’t have to go, I changed my mind - I went and thoroughly enjoyed it!

- Taking my child to play football: I don’t like football; I felt that it was what my husband wanted; I felt it was expected of me as a mum. But when I realised how much my child enjoyed it, how good it was for him to be involved in a team sport, I changed my mind. I was happy to take him – I wanted to do it.

This new perspective also enabled me to realise I could say No, too.

I was able make a choice and stop doing the things I didn’t enjoy as well.

Every year my partner and his close group of friends rent a house and go away for the weekend - couples and children too. But I didn’t enjoy going along. They weren’t people I interacted with on a daily basis, so I found it hard. I was only going along to please my partner, who wanted me to go too. I felt I had no choice because I didn’t want to ruin his fun, even though I wasn’t having any.

When I realised I had a choice, I found the strength to say No. I told my partner I didn’t want to go anymore. And although I worried there would be a lot of upset about my decision, there wasn’t. I was firm and decided and he was happy to go along with just the children. And although I felt guilty when I waved them goodbye, I ended up having a calm peaceful weekend to myself, and they had lots of fun too!

"By saying Yes when you need to No, cripples the most important relationship in your life: the relationship between you and you." - Nea Joy

In realising I had choices, I released the power I had over decisions I made in my life. I was able to ask myself what I wanted, rather than do what I thought others wanted me to do – or expected me to do. I felt happy about the choices I was making and the things I was doing.

By releasing the ‘should’ I was able to change my thoughts from a negative to a positive. It enabled me to enjoy the moment, rather than resent it.  It gave me a sense of personal power and control over my life, enabling me to step out of victim mode and feel as though I was taking an active role in my life.

So if there are things in your life you are struggling with, or doing that are making you unhappy, as yourself these questions:
Would you change your mind about something if you had the opportunity to decide for yourself about it, rather than feel it was expected of you?

Can you see the choice within that releases your personal power, and helps you feel you are making the decision for yourself, rather than having it made for you?  

Embracing the things we do feels a lot better than resenting them. 

"No matter what the situation, remind yourself 'I have a choice'." - Deepak Chopra  

Friday, 4 September 2015

Changing the Question: How to Stop Self-doubt

Image of looking through the split trunk of a tree to light over a lake with text: By changing the question, we change our view.

Do you often ask yourself questions like:

Why is this happening to me?

What am I doing wrong?

What is wrong with me?

Often when I’m stressed out, or in an anxious state, or life isn’t working out as I want it to, I start questioning myself. And the questions I tax myself with aren’t helpful, they only exasperate or perpetuate my already frustrated feelings.

These aren’t helpful questions, they are blocking questions. They stop us in our tracks, immobilising us, and even punishing us. They leave us feeling bad, and stuck in a cycle of frustration that can lead to further negative emotions like anger, guilt and shame.

There are two reasons why these questions shut us down:

  1. They make the assumption that there is something wrong with us, that we are at fault in some way if things aren’t working out;
  2. They ask questions that give no solution to the problem.

These questions would leave me sitting in victim mode feeling as though there was nothing I could do to help myself. What I learnt was that if I changed the questions I was asking myself, not only would I uncover the root of the problem causing me to feel stressed, anxious, or stuck in my situation, but I would also find solutions to help me feel like I could move forward again.

When we are blocked and trying to push in one direction, we need to stop and consider if what we are doing is helpful at that time and evaluate what it is really going on.

"Successful people ask better question, and as a result get better answers." – Tony Robbins.

A friend of mine recently experienced writers block. They expressed to me how frustrated they were about not being able to write, and went on to ask themselves if writing was really for them. They questioned their writing talent, wondered if they would ever write again, and asked if I thought they should give up on the entire thing. They then went on to validate these questions by going over rejection of previous work, and all the failures they had experienced so far in their writing journey. For them, personally, this was spiraling down into a very dark place.

Knowing my friend, and knowing some of the other, non-writing, issues going on in their life, I asked them if how they were feeling had anything to do to with their writing. If maybe other issues, like having to start caring for an elderly, sick parent, which then reminded them of the loss of their other parent, might have more to do with it, topped with frustrations at attempts to get fit being unsuccessful.

I told them to change the questions they were asking themselves about what was going on, and to think about what they could do to ease the pressure on themselves in their current situation; how maybe they were expecting too much from themselves at this time, and to ask themselves 'helpful' questions, rather than destructive ones.

Here are a few examples of helpful questions:

- What am I feeling right now?
- What is this feeling really about?
- How can I approach this differently?
- What is the lesson here?
- What can I learn from this?
- What small steps can I take today to feel better?

"When you finally understand why you’re asking this question – your life can change." - Mastin Kipp

Once I had introduced the idea of changing the question to my friend, they sounded relieved. They were then inspired and motivated to start moving forward again. They could see a way out of their present stuck, depressed mindset. By changing the questions they were able to free themselves from a perpetual negative internal dialogue.

I threw them a lifeline – but one they already had within themselves.

Changing the question can give us back our power, our strength, our desire to keep pushing forward. It can open up a whole world of possibilities. It helps us step out of victim mode and create a constructive plan, or idea, about how we can move forward.

It enables us to stop scolding ourselves and telling ourselves we are doing something wrong. It takes the pressure off and reduces the expectation that there is a need to change ourselves.

By changing the questions we ask ourselves, choices become visible that we couldn’t previously see, and in turn a sense of power that we can actively do something, allowing a fresh perspective on the situation.

This post was originally inspired by a blog post written by Mastin Kipp, over at the Daily Love early this year, called ‘How to overcome the 'what’s wrong with me' thoughts.’ Check it out for a more in depth view.