Feelings are like the weather. The weather just is. Feelings just are. They come and they go . . . they are not a call to action, and they don’t mean you’ve done anything wrong! Weather fronts move through. Sunny days follow . . . most of the time.
Feelings, like weather fronts will move through you, if you allow them to. Think about how you handle a rainy day. Some of us are just not as chipper on rainy days as we are when the sun is shining. Most of us don’t make a federal case out of it, however.
We just notice the rain, accept it, and grab an umbrella. Most of the time the same strategy will work for the occasional down-in-the- dumps -bad-weather-on-the-inside days. You put on your most comfy pants, avoid the most annoying people, and hope tomorrow’s a better day.
But what about when those truly scary emotions of panic, fear, rage, and shame attack you?
1. Do you counterattack and scream at the “source?
2. Do you distance yourself from the “source?”
3. Do you become detached and imperious, pretending that nothing can hurt you because you are above it all (my personal favorite).
4. Or do you just have a temper tantrum, cursing yourself and everyone else?
I’m pretty sure you’ve done at least one of these. You also know that none of them will do you any good in the long run. You know that these reactions are part of the problem and are ─ unhelpful ways of dealing with the yucky feelings of fear, shame, anger, and abandonment.
If you focus on the problem, the problem gets bigger, if you focus on the solution, the solution gets bigger, and we, of course, are interested in Solutions!!!
Try something different when the tornado-like emotions of panic, rage, fear, and shame attack you. Actually you could do the same thing you would when there’s news of a tornado! And what’s that? 1. Acknowledge it as serious. 2. Realize you need to stay safe. 3. Find a safe place to wait for it to pass through. The same strategy will work for tornado-like emotions.
- Acknowledge them.
- Find a place to feel safe.
- Wait for them to pass through.
But waiting’s hard!! Especially when you’re feeling unglued, right? To make the waiting easier, here are seven things to keep you busy:
- Notice the emotions
- Name the emotions
- Respect the emotions
- Accept the emotions
- Allow the emotions to move through you.
6 (*Bonus step) Connect a friend you really trust. It may take an agonizingly long time, but try to stay with it and repeat the steps.
- (**Extra Bonus) Write down some of the feelings and thoughts.
A lot of us create drama when troubling emotions attack us, because we don’t know what else to do. This ends up making us feel worse. You may be afraid to fully acknowledge your feelings because you think if you do, they will hang around forever.
But, the very opposite is true: If you acknowledge and name your feeling(s), you’re taking some control over the feeling. You are in the process of externalizing the feelings as other (other than the real you) so that you can observe them, and not be controlled by them!
Remember, feelings are like the weather. Just wait if you don’t like them, they will change. The reverse is also true! Don’t be surprised by unpleasant feelings. They are part of being human.