I’m on this track of getting to the basics of my FEEL GOOD mantra. In the moment, what does it take and how can I make it easy and natural to get myself to a place where I feel good.
It brings up the question of feelings and emotions, and what is the difference? Feelings – fleeting, instant, a rapid reaction that is visceral, that the body and mind then interprets to decide what to do with. They become ingredients that are part of a bigger process.
When a decision is made, consciously or unconsciously, feelings becomes emotion. Emotion- energy and motion someone said on a podcast recently – it’s the feeling plus history (past experiences, past feelings and connections the body/mind has made) and now it gets sticky and has potential to make an impact.
Emotions, negative ones at least, stick and create thoughts, negative thoughts, because your mind needs a story as to why you feel a certain way. It will take clues and put together a story and come to believe it, creating grooves in your brain so that it becomes your reality. This creates ANTs, automatic negative thoughts. Now, when you just experience the feeling, no matter how brief, the ANTs kick in, pretty soon without even needing the emotion. But ANTs will drive stronger negative emotions.
Without awareness and action, ANTs and emotions will drive – they can impact how we see the world, interpret the world, and how we act in the world. And without awareness, we could be seeing, thinking and doing things that actually aren’t the right things at all do see, think or do.
Without awareness, we just react and often those reactions make situations worse, creating more bad feelings and stronger bad emotions. With awareness, we can create a space to assess the emotions and even the feelings, try to understand them and possibly even leverage them. Emotions are, in fact, very important signals that can inform a much deeper understanding of ourselves, and offer guideposts for new directions and better alignment to our true self of thought and action. But, this takes both awareness and a lot of work.
For now, I want to focus on short term FEEL GOOD.
- Awareness of emotions (and feelings), just plain awareness (no judgment or action needed) can create space, a buffer, that disconnects, even for just a moment, from the drama. Stepping back and becoming an observer untangles the emotion from our deeper selves and eases the intensity and pain. But simple awareness takes practice, it’s a muscle to flex. Here I find meditation helpful, and pausing throughout the day to assess my emotions. Breathing exercises help, going for a walk, smiling, connecting with a friend; any kind of small, easy and steps. Over time it gets easier, and remarkably powerful.
- With improved awareness comes the opportunity to take actions. I’ll explore this more soon, as there are different actions to take, depending on the emotions, the history, the situation, your state of mind and health in the moment. That alone is important to realize – there is no one answer or one solution. There are usually several and by applying several together, it is more effective.
- Taking proactive steps for when awareness isn’t all there yet, and understanding is not there at all. This is something to do before you ever even feel bad, knowing that at some point during the day you are going to run out of good energy and hit a wall; so let’s plan ahead. This was one of my biggest takeaways from The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte. She recommends a daily ritual of choosing your core desired feelings every morning and burning those into your mind so you influence thoughts and behaviors throughout the day that actually promote those desired feelings. What a concept – rather than wait and hope you’ll feel a certain way, decide ahead of time how you want to feel, an inevitably, unconsciously, you’ll steer your body and mind toward that direction. It works, I’ve done it.
- This is related to point 3 – in addition to making a decision in the morning of how you want to feel, you can also do this throughout the day, on the hour, before meetings, whenever you take the elevator or step into the bathroom (environmental triggers are recommended – then this becomes habit). No matter how you feel, make a decision in that moment how you WANT to feel. You may not get there 100%, but this mental decision does make an impact. Take a few deep breaths with it, and make a statement. “I feel calm. I feel confident.” Anything you want. This idea of thinking it and thereby making it a reality has a lot of truth to it. Try it, trust it. The more you believe it, the more it is able to manifest. Statements like this disrupt ANTs and ultimately whittle away at their power. But it takes practice – daily, frequently.
FEEL GOOD. “I feel good.”