Thursday, July 17, 2008

Listen to the Language of Your Emotions

For years this phrase has decorated my computer and only today did the meaning of it finally dawn on me as I reflected on a response I’d made to an e-mail.

Language of Your Emotions

Emotions don’t speak – we do. We feel the energy moving inside us (emotion = energy in motion) and interpret the feeling with words. For example I may feel emotion in my throat and refer to it as a frog in my throat, lump, tightness, constriction, scratchiness….etc. The words we end up choosing in each instance to describe an emotional feeling is no mistake. They are most often a metaphor or a literal reflection of what the emotion itself is trying to reveal. This is the “language of our emotions” that we need to listen to.

In the e-mail today, the person referred to feeling tightness in their throat. My suggestion was to listen to the word he used to describe the sensation. What happens with tight? How does anything flow through something that is tight? What does tight need – perhaps lubrication (softer thoughts) or a loosening (easing up of negative thoughts)? The emotions we feel are often connected to the thoughts we are thinking about the situation – not necessarily the situation itself.

For example, the other day I was feeling frustration as my friend was with another task instead of being ready on time to leave for the Spa. I thought we had agreed to leave at a certain time to avoid having to wait to get in. Thirty five minutes past that time I was feeling antsy! I noticed the emotion of frustration rise as I felt the sensation of a pressure in my chest. Chalking it up to being an inner signal that we’d have to wait if we didn’t hurry up, I’d made it (the emotion) about the situation.

When we do leave, we end up taking the wrong route, so now we were an hour late (pressure contributing to taking the incorrect route). By now my thinking had became so warped that I found myself almost hoping we’d have to wait to get in so that my inner signal would be proven correct. Oh my!!! As I caught that thought, I realized that if we did have to wait, I’d be the one responsible for creating that experience for us. I was the only one adding pressure (my feeling of pressure) to the situation; my friends were both focused on enjoying their conversation throughout the drive. I was cutting myself off from the harmonious energy connection flowing between my friends by thinking “pressure thoughts”, hence the feeling being in my chest and heart area.

Finally, as I realize what I’m doing, I take a deep breath….and I remember how grateful I am to be spending this time with my friends. Even if we did have to wait, we’d be together, enjoying each others company, which was the whole purpose of the outing. Like magic, suddenly, the pressure was released. As my mood shifted, I realized we were on the wrong route, which one we were suppose to be on (now there’s an appropriate metaphor :) ) and helped direct us to it.

At last, we joyfully arrived at Le Nordic Spa. Did we have to wait to get in? Of course not, now that we were all focused on enjoying each others company, that focus expanded into a “pressure less” experience.

The situation wasn’t the cause of the emotion and pressure; it was the thoughts. As I continued holding onto thoughts of pressure, I was adding pressure to the situation. Once I changed my thoughts the pressure released and the situation began to reflect our new collective energy of enjoyment and cheer.

Our thoughts do change our outcomes!

Next time you’re feeling an emotion, as you give it language, notice the words you’re using. Acknowledge either the literal or metaphoric meaning and notice how your thoughts are affecting the situation. Sometimes, it will be about the situation, however more than not, it will be about the thoughts of it and the language you use about how you’re feel will point you into the right direction, helping you to recognize what you can do to turn it around!

Listen, to the language of your emotions!