Life is stressful and it’s easy to feel sabotaged by stress. You feel like there’s not enough time and not enough money. You’re not enjoying your job enough. You can’t be with the ones you love enough. You’re not appreciated enough.

All this ‘not enough’ can feel pretty overwhelming and some days like an avalanche–it all shows up at once. It limits your enjoyment of your life, affects your health, and weighs down your relationships. It’s times like these that the idea of emotional mastery seems unlikely, if not downright impossible. How can you dig yourself out?

It’s so simple, you might not believe that it’s true.

S.E.A.L.: See. Embrace. Appreciate. Love.

Step 1: I See You

So often, the first response to something negative is to push it aside, bury it, or disown your experience of it. Rather than freeing you, this is how being sabotaged by stress begins. The real truth is, in order to stem the tide of discomfort and unhappiness you’re feeling, the vitally important first step is to say, “I See You.”

Yes, let the unpleasant emotions, the difficult people, and the unsatisfying circumstances know that you’re willing to acknowledge that they exist. You don’t need to say it out loud because the power of this comes from within you. Just the fact that you’re expressing a willingness to see whatever’s causing the difficulty will create a shift. At this point, you’re not trying to change how you’re feeling, it’s enough that you accept it. By not burying or pushing aside the stress and its source, you make it possible to begin to dissolve the power it has to sabotage you.

Step 2: I Embrace You

This step melts the defensive walls that enabled you to be sabotaged by stress. Normally, the last thing you’d want to do with something distasteful and unpleasant is to wrap your arms around it and give it a BIG hug. On the one hand, you’ve probably heard the saying, ‘warts and all’ but on the other hand, no one really wants to hug a warty toad. So, how can you embrace feelings that are uncomfortable, if not truly painful?

This isn’t about denying your feelings or perceptions. You certainly don’t need to give up your initial dissatisfaction or displeasure. All you’re doing at this point is saying (to yourself), ‘I Embrace You’ which is a way of making your feelings welcome. At first glance, this can seem like a tough request, yet, once you practice it a few times you’ll see that it’s actually not that bad. In fact, in time that toad will likely become one of your most cherished companions.

Step 3: I Appreciate You

Now you’re ready to explore making a shift in your feelings toward the unpleasantness. It might seem like this step will cost you a lot emotionally. Instead, realize that saying ‘I Appreciate You’ is not the same thing as saying ‘You’re right’ or ‘I’m wrong.’ It also doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve something better. You can practice appreciation and still be your own best advocate for transforming the conditions of your life.

One reason this step works is that often what causes us stress actually creates an environment for growth. Think of an oyster. It’s the irritation and grit that gets into the oyster and makes it possible for it to produce the treasured pearl. You may not be able to see it right now, but what if the stress you’re feeling is really an invitation to grow something beautiful in your life? When you allow yourself to feel appreciation for even a seemingly negative something, you’ll be amazed at how it transforms.

Step 4: I Love You

By now, hopefully, you’ve witnessed some unexpected results from employing the first three steps of S.E.A.L. Perhaps your willingness to really see, to embrace, and to appreciate the stresses that felt like they were sabotaging your life has created surprising and positive improvements. If so, taking the leap and telling your negative emotions and whatever triggered them ‘I Love You,’ may feel pretty effortless.

On the other hand, if you’re just starting out or if you find this idea preposterous, say the words whether or not you feel the feeling. It may surprise you to learn that this works just as well, regardless of your emotional status. This is because, for the most part, an emotion, which is a blend of neurochemistry, thought, and environmental conditions, is temporary. The practice of saying ‘I Love You’ can be performed in the abstract yet still create the desired result.

From Sabotaged By Stress To Emotional Mastery

The word mastery may conjure up ideas like ‘conquer,’ ‘overcome,’ or ‘dominate.’ When it comes to emotions, using those tactics ends up causing more stress and more suffering for you. Emotional mastery is the artful, intentional, and skillful engaging with your feeling experiences. Like the best relationships, it blends respect, compassion, honesty, and commitment. As one of the highest forms of self-love, it blossoms when those qualities are all present.

Emotional Mastery is a process and a journey. S.E.A.L. is one path on that journey. These four steps make up a simple practice with which you can begin to open the doorways to your inner world. On your travels there, you’ll see that within you there are already many pearls just waiting to be found. See, embrace, appreciate, and love your way to discovering and sharing them all.

About Zette

Zette Harbour is an iPEC certified life and leadership coach, and award-winning professional storyteller, who helps women yearning to live as their hearts desire, but experience feeling stuck, learn how to become unstoppable and live true to themselves.

Book a complimentary Discovery Conversation today.

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Photo Credit: Pablo Merchán Montes, Unsplash.com