Stuck On A Feeling?
Our minds can create incredible whirlwinds of illusions when we unknowingly get sucked into the drama of an unresolved emotion. Here are a few ways to clear that
The most dangerous aspect of unresolved feelings and unaddressed stuck emotions is that we believe whatever it is we are thinking.
We get sucked into a virtual reality that is utterly convincing. And the very idea that there is actually something within our control to take us out of it feels ludicrous if not downright offensive.
For us, this is real: the world is bleak, things are hopeless, we will never find anyone who gets us, we will never get ourselves out of the mess we are in (etc etc).
But the thing that actually sets us free is also the hardest thing to accept.
Aside from when we are faced with serious, life-threatening illnesses and traumatic psychological conditions which require serious professional help, the day-to-day troughs, low spells and dour moods we all experience is totally within our power to eradicate.
It requires 3 initial steps:
Be Honest & Specific
The first step is to ask ourselves how we really feel. Shit? Good. What is it specifically that is getting us down? Pick one thing at a time.
Ask If What We Believe Is True
The second step is to break the grip this idea has on us. We need to challenge our assumptions, that's all. Is there a possibility that what we are thinking isn't actually true?
As soon as have stepped out of the "virtual reality", admitted why we feel so bad and that maybe it's not based in reality, we are ready to work on clearing it.
Here are 4 techniques we can work with by ourselves:
1. Expressive Writing
This is ideal when we are stuck on Step 1.
If we know we feel bad and we're not sure why, just ranting and raving on a piece of paper can begin to work wonders.
It allows us to vent, which is cathartic in itself, but as we write we frequently begin to reveal to ourselves what it actually is that is bugging us deep down. ("....and my life is hard and I don't have any friends...")
2. "The Work"
This technique is worth trying if we are stuck on Step 2, as it is specifically designed to make us confront the beliefs we have about a given situation and ask ourselves if it is true.
It basically involves asking ourselves 4 questions:
Its creator, Byron Katie, has a free e-book detailing the process which can be found here.
3. EFT (Tapping)
This can be used on literally any issue and the alleviation after a couple of rounds is notable and is worth sticking at - the more specific the issue the better.
As the name of the technique suggests, it involves tapping your fingers on several points on your head, face, chest and underarm, as Brad Yates shows below.
4. The CORE Technique
Part of the Emotional Mastery technique, the principle behind this is to actively move towards whatever unpleasant emotion it is you have that you might instinctively want to avoid.
The idea being that once you focus your attention on it and gradually drill deeper into it, simply be observing it and feeling it - without trying too hard to actually shift it - it gradually dissipates.
An example of it can be found below.
When All Else Fails...
Life isn't always going to go our way. Here are 4 techniques that might help when life has won the grand prize of being the world's biggest shit-show
Sometimes, life is just shit. It's bleak. It's boring. It's repetitive, predictable, petty and small. It's going nowhere. And it's worse when we can't find any reprieve from it.
We can find umpteen motivational videos telling us that "We can be or do anything we desire!". We tell ourselves that we just lack confidence and are "afraid of our own power". We are told (by therapists, life coaches, gurus, self-styled experts) that we just have to believe in ourselves, repeat mantras and visualise success (and nothing happens).
"Surround yourself with people you admire!", we are frequently advised. "Find a mentor, then get better than them!".
But what if there aren't any?
What if we are stuck in some godforsaken shit-hole in the middle of nowhere with zero opportunities to meet incredibly inspiring people who will take us on a magical journey to Wonderland?
What, if we are neighbours with bin collectors, shop assistants and coffee shop baristas (not Tony Robbins or Richard Branson).
When The Advice Doesn't Work
After a while, all of these promises and pieces of advice can begin to ring a little hollow.
And then, as a last act of desperation, all we can do is try to kick ourselves into a state of positivity, telling ourselves, "Stop being so defeatist", "Anything is possible, right?"
But frequently, it feels like all evidence points to the contrary.
That no matter how hard we work, how much money we spend on therapy, life coaching and self-improvement programs, nothing changes.
How do we deal, then, when life has turned into one long shit-show and (to rub the salt in), the advice we are being given either doesn't fit our circumstances - or doesn't seem to work?
There are 4 approaches that run counter to the typical self-help mantras that might help shift things a bit.
They work regardless of income, geography or social networks - not all will appeal but all have their place. And what connects them all is this: none of them are designed to drastically change your life - and that's kind of the point:
1. Amor Fati
This is the hardest one to swallow, so best to get this out of the way first.
It requires a pretty sizeable amount of magnanimity which, when life is really tricky, is quite hard to say the least.
"Amor Fati" is a stoic practice that basically translates as "love your fate".
It requires not only developing the ability to take misfortune on the chin but to actually become grateful for it, recognizing that hidden gems can lie in life's unpleasant moments. Robert Greene & Ryan Holiday explain all in the video below.
2. Radical Acceptance
If you are unable to get to that point, you could consider Marsha Linehan's technique of Radical Acceptance, where you actually fact facts.
You don't sugar coat it, you don't pretend something shit is actually secretly a brilliant gift, but you just accept what has happened - and what is happening. As Linehan says in the video below:
"You have to radically accept you want something you don't have and it's not a catastrophe."
Anything less is living in denial and stretching out the misery you have found yourself rolling around in.
3. Intense Realism
In a similar vein, Intense Realism (as described in Chapter 1 of The 50th Law by Robert Greene) is the ability to accept reality as it is (and not as how we wish it was).
And as Greene argues, it allows us to finetune skills we might not otherwise have learned.
We have to be sharper, for example. We have to be better at spotting opportunities.
The real danger, he says, is not necessarily in the situation itself - it's in denial:
"When things get tough and you grow tired of the grind, your mind tends to drift into fantasies... Reality has its own power—you can turn your back on it, but it will find you in the end, and your inability to cope with it will be your ruin."
4. "F**k It"
If all this seems a bit too much in the given moment, the last technique is quick, painless and simple. It requires saying F**k It (and meaning it).
Author John Parkin, highly recommends it as way of "giving in to a situation" and accepting it, warts and all, as it actually is.
He advises it when faced with intractable situations, his idea being it helps us let go, release stress, stop worrying and wanting something so badly.
It requires "giving up of our normal rational approach to dealing with things", and the need for everything to be exactly the way we want it to be.
Instead, it allows us to breathe again, to gain a bit of perspective and to feel a bit freer in difficult moments.
So the next time we are looking at our lives and it feels like a crushing disappointment, these techniques might help, the key always being to remember that the pain lies in the desire for it to be different - and the liberation comes from squarely facing up to it exactly as it is.
That Nagging Voice Hasn't Always Lived In Your Head
Next time you feel beaten down, like you can't do anything right, listen to that berating voice inside your head - and ask yourself who it actually is.
No-one likes bullies. But the worst kind, the most insidious of them all, live inside our heads. And the reason they are so powerful is because we don't even realise they are there.
They are so deeply embedded in our thoughts, emotions, beliefs and knee-jerk reactions to situations, that we think they are us - and we think they're right.
These voices have lives of their own - and they began in the 'real world', before they leapt into our minds and started whispering in our ears.
The Critical Inner Voice
The Critical Inner Voice, as it is known, typically gets created as a defense mechanism to a painful situation.
It doesn't always require a direct criticism or scolding to develop (the growing pains of childhood inevitably spawn situations that leave us feeling inadequate) - but the negative feedback loop we get stuck in can inevitably be traced back to an individual or group of people whose words and/or actions impacted us deeply.
If we have ever been picked on, regularly criticized, felt the spotlight was on us for all the wrong reasons, the emotional charge of that event can get stuck.
And the way we were treated at the time, the kinds of judgments/expectations that were made of us and the lack of care that was given to us all get internalised.
We start talking to ourselves in the way we were spoken to that we hated so much.
And it becomes so natural to us, so automated, that we fail to realise we are even doing it.
And before long, we end up doing the original critics' jobs for them.
Recognising The Root
But breakthroughs can be as astoundingly simple as they are effective, as an interview Epiphany Channel did with architect, Greg Schriefer, shows.
Having been plagued by negative self-talk for years, what freed Schriefer was recognising where it actually came from.
When he realised that he was in fact repeating the exact words his father had said to him, he was immediately able to distance himself from the voice.
It no longer belonged to him, so he could begin a conversation with it, rather than just soak up whatever it was saying.
As Schriefer told Elise Ballard, who runs the Epiphany Channel:
"I had realized that I had been battling my father’s voice my entire life. It was him, not me, saying, “You are no good for nothing, and you’ll never amount to anything... My mind was just repeating it."
Once he realised where the voice came from, he was able to identify it every time it came up again after that - and stop it in its tracks.
When There Are Upsides To That Voice
Writer Isabel Allende outlined a similar experience she had in an interview with Global Leadership TV.
But in her case, she was also able to see how it actually benefited her.
The upside to being harsh on yourself is it can drive you to be better.
Allende was able to create a successful career for herself in a time where it was unusual for a woman to do so.
And it was the high expectations and intolerance of a grandfather cracking the whip (in real life and in her head) that she says she had to thank for it.
She told Global Leadership TV:
"It helped me for years and years to become someone freer, more successful and more independent than most women of my generation did in that place,"
Finding The Right Balance
The downside was, she could never switch off, feeling guilty if she ever stopped working.
Being able to give the voice - and herself - a break has been the key to achieving a bit more balance.
And now she uses this critical voice to her advantage as and when she needs it:
"Sometimes it's useful. Sometimes when I am in a situation of great stress or when I have to really perform, the voice comes and helps. But it doesn't tie me up, it doesn't imprison me like it did before."
The next time we get swept up by the voice inside our heads, the act of being able trace it back to its originator is well worth trying out.
Not only can it free us from the negative aspects of what it is saying - but it in some cases (depending on what it is saying) it might actually help us as well.