Emotions are at an all-time high right now. And rightly so. Wouldn’t you agree?
Unfortunately, we have been conditioned to see emotions as “bad”. When you hear someone referred to as “too much”, it’s typically because the “too much” person is expressing their emotions and that makes others uncomfortable.
What do people tell us when they don’t want to be uncomfortable?
“You feel better, right?”
“What are you so afraid of?”
“People will listen to you if you act less angry.”
And in turn, these expressions teach us to suppress our emotions.
Yet, emotions are our allies. You see, our emotions are an alert system telling us, “Hey, wake up. Pay attention. This is important.”
As you know, I love investigating and discussing emotions. The best part of being an investigator of my emotions is that, I’ve discovered that the more in tune I become with my emotional wellbeing through self-coaching and being coached, the healthier I become.
Emotions are meant to be felt and expressed. Emotions are energy in motion, literally. If we suppress our uncomfortable emotions, they will erupt in other ways. Guaranteed.
One of the downsides of intense emotions, or rather, the downside of getting stuck in a negative or uncomfortable emotional state, is that it leads to cardiovascular disease, adrenal fatigue, sleeplessness, decreased immunity, depression, and digestive disorders.
One of the most common uncomfortable emotions we get stuck in is anxiety. In fact, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting nearly 40 million adults. This number doesn’t even account for those of us who experience anxiety that is bothersome but perhaps not at a level to constitute calling it a disorder.
When we are in an anxious state our fight, flight, or freeze response is triggered. And when we are in a fight, flight, or freeze state our emotional brain becomes hijacked, rendering us incapable of making decisions from our pre-frontal cortex, our thinking brain. We cannot take strategic, forward-moving action steps when making decisions from our emotional brain. It can become a loop in which we get stuck.
One of the most common causes of anxiety is engaging in future-oriented thinking.
It makes sense then that anxiety is high right now as there is much uncertainty about our future. While this is always true, so many of us are feeling a keen sense of how uncertain life is, especially now.
How do you know you are engaging in future-oriented fear? Your thought begins with, “What if…”. And once you go down that trail, your anxiety builds. Now, for some, considering, “What if…” triggers them to create a plan B, allowing them to regain their locus of control.
But for the rest of us, “What if…” creates chaos in our brains.
Because anxious thoughts build on anxious thoughts. Like fertilizer aids the growth of plants, one anxious thought is fertilizer for the next one. Pretty soon your thoughts blossom into full-blown catastrophic thinking. And as you know, catastrophic thinking is paralyzing.
What can you do?
The antidote for future thinking is to become present to the moment in front of you. This is where you calm the chaos and find clarity.
It is only from this present moment state that we are able to take positive, forward-moving action.
Try this simple technique when you are experiencing runaway, future thinking that impedes you from taking forward-moving action.
Name 5 things you see. Right now, I see a kayak, boat, dock, tree, lake. I do this whenever my mind begins to race. (Which I’ll admit is quite often.)
Name 5 things you feel. I feel the wind on my face, the clothes on my back, the sweat from my glass that is currently running down my leg, my elbows on the table, my feet on the deck.
Name 5 things you hear. It’s summertime so I hear lawnmowers, construction truck back-up signals, Annie (my grand-dog) eating an almond, birds chirping, binaural beats for focus.
Name 5 things you smell. I currently smell summertime at the lake (a mixture of cows, hay, and lake water), grass clippings, my essential oil roll-on, plus various scents of food and flowers that waft to me on the breeze.
It’s imperative that you be present to the moment in front of you to take forward action whether you’re working, studying, writing, doing anti-racist work, or deepening relationships.
Naming objects you see, feel, hear, and smell will instantaneously bring you to the present moment. And from the present moment, you can plan your next step. And then the next one.
Try it and let me know how it goes.
Sending you lots of love,