E is for Emotional Leftovers (and Eight Steps)

20140913151647_00003You have some sort of holiday leftovers in your fridge, right? :  a little crust of this, an ignominious ball of that, a glop of something resembling nothing which is leaning up the inside of a tupperware bowl.

Your emotions can be leftovers too!  And they can feel a lot gloppier than whatever is growing in your fridge.  And, for many of us, including me, the  Christmas holidays bring up old feelings of Christmases less than perfect, or even downright ugly.

Usually the stronger the leftover feelings of loneliness, frustration, anxiety, and sadness are, the longer you have been carrying them around with you.

If  you are among the lucky ones who have a long history of joyful, warm, loving, and strife free Christmases as a child I’m so happy for you!!  Please share here some of your happy memories and warm leftover emotions.

Back to the unpleasant leftover emotions for a moment:  How do you know if an emotion is a leftover emotion or an emotion firmly planted in the present???

Let’s see:  Does the emotion seem out of synch with the situation? Are you reacting more strongly to a family member than seems reasonable?

Are you flying off the handle or going into a funk over something that seems”simple”?

If so, you are witnessing an emotion that is leftover from long ago; it has popped into your present life to stink it up, like the leftover stinky cheese in the refrigerator!

This leftover could be guilt: This is stirred up for a lot of us, especially women, thinking we have to create perfect experiences for our families to counter-balance what we feel like are failures in Christmases past. The imposter leftover guilt often comes with the thoughts “I haven’t done enough, or I’ve done the wrong thing,” or images in your mind of past Christmas “failures.”

So what to do?  If only it was as easy as getting rid of old food in the refrigerator!!

If you’re like me, your favorite part of the year is clearing out the old and making a space for the brand new.

But leftover emotions are a little trickier than a quick dump into the garbage. 😉

Trickier, yes!  And I’ll tell you the trick right here:

You can learn to choose to be with your stinky leftover emotions rather in them, and, surely as the sun comes up in the morning, wean yourself from them. 

And of course you need Eight Steps for this task!!! 

 Ta Da!!  8 Steps to Wean Yourself from Unpleasant Leftover Emotions!!

1. Notice when you are anxious, angry, or irritable, or tearful.  This part–the noticing– is huge!!!  Once you’ve noticed, you’re halfway to freedom.

2. Feel which part of your body is going all spasmodic on you– stomach doing a back flip, head starting to pound, your shoulders and neck knotting up?

3. Reassure yourself that the deep emotion you’re feeling is a leftover one from an earlier day–or you wouldn’t be feeling it so strongly, right?!!!

4. Ask yourself “what do I want to feel right now? Do I want to re-experience this strong negative emotion–this echo from my past?

5.  Affirm that you can chose a different emotion. You can chose peaceful or relaxed or joyful.  You can chose loving and charitable with even the most irritating people and circumstances. Ok, I’m looking for some push back on this one. It’s really hard to do.

6. Pace yourself.  This is a process you practice one day at a time.

7. And by the way, practice does not make perfect!  Remember, even doctors practice medicine and those who have to endure their practicing are called patience . . .  or is it patients? Hehe.

8. Be victorious: A wonderful benefit of being present with your leftover emotions is being able to notice what is going on around you–to be the observer of your own experience.

Folks who are observers of their experiences rather than being trapped in them are able to tell wonderful stories.  

Want to become a storyteller?  Observe your leftover emotions and tell us your stories!! 

I would love to hear from YOU!

 

Author: Margaret Huntley Harrison

I’m a painter using my gifts to transform the seemingly ordinary into the beautiful and extraordinary. What I love more than anything is tracking down, creating, and spreading the beauty in our amazing world! And I LOVE helping you find and spread your beauty into your home, your family and your world. Art for sale: fineartamerica.com Margaret Huntley Harrison

5 thoughts on “E is for Emotional Leftovers (and Eight Steps)”

  1. I’ve been soooo mad, sand, guilty over poor relationships within my family and while my spouse says, “Ignore them”, and I have reached out to them more than s few times, and they still aren’t responsive, it makes me want their approval more. Having my mom’s only sibling become BFF with my brother, an always threatening angst part of my life and actually team up makes it worse. I tried this year escaping and taking my immediate family away and am still on vacation, but I think of them in contact and I think of my aunt saying how bad I am and ruining Drew, yet for the first time, she sends him nothing, not even a card this year. So then I’m mad for him, mad for me, but miss that relationship it just becomes circuitous. I want to throw the towel in, but I love her. Yet I acknowledge this has had enough time to be sooo bad, that I don’t expect it to be like before. She speaks so rudely to me, makes me feel like I have really ruined Drew but not in a nice way with solutions. I can’t throw these people away. When I don’t call or anything or its not the holidays, it’s a bit better. But the guilt and remorse I feel, she only pushes that into higher levels. It’s like the baking soda in a refrigerator, it may be bad or ineffective but I never buy new because it might be working or just forget. It has been truly relaxing at moments on this trip, but I just can’t get those that gather without me off my mind (nor are we invited). Yes, practice and patience, never my strong suit plus hating conflict anyway, it festers!!!! Then after writing this I sound like a big whiny adult who thinks that people are going to treat me fairly always? Stupid! I can’t let it rest, throw it away, it’s always there…. Happy holidays and can you do 1/12 per my message at 6?
    Thanks,
    Elizabeth

    1. Elizabeth, I figured out what I did. I left the my response under comment rather than replying to your email. Here is the reply I wrote! It was on the same day you wrote yours. 😉 Sorry I left it in the wrong place and you didn’t see it. My bad.

      So sorry that you have to experience such frustratingly rude family members. Are you still with them for the holiday or you headed home now? I too ran into a few old coldies at visitation and memorial for one of my dear friends and am trying to shake it off today. It’s so hard when the ones that treat you badly are part of your family, though isn’t it. And you say, even when you are away from your aunt, you think about how cold she is and you could possibly make friends with her. You know, and I’m having to tell myself this today, it’s about your Aunt and whatever goes on in her mind, it’s not about you. Her being cruel to you doesn’t make you deficient it makes her deficient. Haters hate and Lovers love. If she can’t (won’t) love you, show you kindness, etc. you have to remember that it is 100% about her and some scenario in her life. Can you distract yourself and intentionally turn away from the thoughts and turn towards someone who really digs you, loves you, wants to be around you. Do something really nice for yourself? Holidays can so be a beeeeatch!! 😉

  2. So sorry that you have to experience such frustratingly rude family members. Are you still with them for the holiday or you headed home now? I too ran into a few old coldies at visitation and memorial for one of my dear friends and am trying to shake it off today. It’s so hard when the ones that treat you badly are part of your family, though isn’t it. And you say, even when you are away from your aunt, you think about how cold she is and you could possibly make friends with her. You know, and I’m having to tell myself this today, it’s about your Aunt and whatever goes on in her mind, it’s not about you. Her being cruel to you doesn’t make you deficient it makes her deficient. Haters hate and Lovers love. If she can’t (won’t) love you, show you kindness, etc. you have to remember that it is 100% about her and some scenario in her life. Can you distract yourself and intentionally turn away from the thoughts and turn towards someone who really digs you, loves you, wants to be around you. Do something really nice for yourself? Holidays can so be a beeeeatch!! 😉

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