Photo Credit: Element5 Digital, Unsplash.com

Emotions with catabolic (i.e. constricting, destroying, limiting) energy don’t typically feel very good.

Yet, they’re extremely natural and common. We ALL feel these kinds of emotions.

But what can we do with them?

There’s a whole spectrum of responses, and some have higher quality energy than others. For example, we can:

  • . . . ignore them and hope they go away.
  • . . . express them, unfiltered, in raw form (e.g. yell, clench, punch a pillow, shut down and do nothing, etc.).
  • . . . observe them and be curious about where they came from and what message they contain.

There’s no right or wrong response, per se, but if it feels like you don’t have control over your response, that’s something you can practice and improve on the road of self-mastery.

Combine an emotional workout with a physical workout

The other day, I was practicing jump rope. I’m reasonably good at swinging the rope forward and jumping without getting my feet caught. But when I switched to swinging backward–damn! I felt frustration bubble up from my gut.

I was jumping rope to practice quick feet, cardio, and endurance. Then it hit me–I can use this opportunity to practice observing emotions as well.

I felt frustrated (and even wanted to “give up”) but I decided that no matter how many times the rope got caught in my feet, I’d practice backward jump rope until I completed 100 total jumps.

To turn this into an “emotional workout,” I did two things:

  1. I LET GO of the expectation that the rope wouldn’t get caught on my feet. That was the thought that generated the frustration.
  2. I created a new expectation that feelings of frustration could still emerge and that would be okay. I committed to STAYING with the feeling and focus on the jumping. It didn’t matter how long it took or how many times my feet got caught, I knew that I’d eventually get to 100 jumps.

Create space to practice an emotional workout

Just as jumping rope improves my ability to have quick feet, cardio, and endurance–consciously working on emotional triggers improves my ability to feel, observe, and focus on difficult emotions when they pop up in the “real world.”

Some questions for you:

  • How do you typically respond to unpleasant, difficult, catabolic emotions? No judgment here. This is simply an opportunity to reflect on how you experience the world.
  • What could you do to mildly trigger these kinds of emotions and practice observing them, feeling them, and shifting expectations to further change the emotional energy?

Crossing the T.E.A.’s

Let’s go above and below these Thoughts, Emotions, and Actions:

Going Below the T.E.A.
  • Thought: This isn’t going like I expected
  • Emotion: Anger, frustration, or confusion
  • Action: Ignore the feeling or let the emotional energy fling out into the world
Going Above the T.E.A.
  • Thought: I consciously practice feeling, observing, and shifting negative emotions
  • Emotion: The negative emotion, followed by peace or contentment once the shift occurs
  • Action: I stick with the emotions I feel, observe my expectations, and shift those expectations around to better serve me in this moment

“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”

Bruce D Schneider

 Photo Credit: Element5 Digital, Unsplash.com