Anger. Fear. Shame. What's holding you back?
For humans, emotions are the most basic function of our brain. This system of quick responses helps us react to the world around us, and before we know it, an impulse reaction has been set off. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always translate into a reaction that is good for us.
After an emotion is triggered, feelings are what develop in our brain. Think of it as your mind taking that powerful emotion and kicking it up to the next level. That would be the powerful feeling we’re going to act upon. Every emotion is compared to every experience you’ve ever had. Your mind then decides how it’s going to react. If changing your automatic reactions is something you want to work on, you need to know how these emotions make you feel. Here are some common feelings that could be holding you back:
What do you do when your emotions feel like fear? Is it fight or flight? Do you take action or do nothing? Sometimes we develop a tendency to relive past traumatic situations and our minds immediately go to the reaction. Recognizing that the current situation isn’t actually a crisis situation, even if it feels that way, may help correct your reaction. Stop. Take a step back. Observe what's happening. Ask yourself is this action coming from fear or love? If it’s coming from fear, try to switch the action to one that would come from love instead. A great question to ask yourself is “What would love do?”
Anger is an emotion responsible for most conditioned responses. Feeling angry will most likely cause you to act impulsively, making the current situation worse. However, oftentimes anger is a cover for something deeper inside. Could you really be feeling sad, hopeless, or ashamed when clicking over into anger instead makes you feel better than actually feeling that other underlying emotion? One way to cope is to take a deep breath, relax, and get curious. What could this anger actually be coming from? What else do I feel: powerless, sad, frustrated? The more questions you ask yourself, the more you can learn from anger, turning it into a positive growth experience.
Feeling anxious is a sign that you are not fully in the present moment; you are either dwelling about something that happened in the past, or worried about something in the future. Both places are not here and now. The best thing to do is find a way to return to the present moment. Feel your feet on the floor, ground yourself, breathe. Focus on taking deep, slow belly breaths. Look around. Find something to observe in your surroundings. Music can also be a great tool to make yourself more present. Once you can return to the present moment, you move away from the past/future scenario causing the feelings of anxiety.
Shame is one of those emotions that we bury so deep it festers until we can truly speak it and release it. Shame is baggage that only you can decide when to unpack and lighten your load. Remember, there is no shame in your humanity. You are not the first person to make mistakes, nor will you be the last. Many times we don’t realize that thing holding us back is buried shame. Once you can bring it to the surface, you take away its power. Shame cannot live once you’ve exposed it. So as difficult as it may be, try to talk to someone about your feelings. You may be pleasantly surprised to find out that you are not alone and that others feel the same way that you do. There are numerous support groups for all types of behaviors. Find a group or friend or therapist to help you uproot your shame so you no longer have to live with it.
Here's What to Keep in Mind
You don't have to feed every emotion with so much feeling, and vice versa.
Take the time to understand your emotions, it is a lifelong journey to learn and keep growing. Remember to get curious and ask yourself questions rather than making judgments. The more open and curious you are, the more growth and transformation is possible!