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Click play below for a reading of today's intentional session from Matt.
Feelings are much like waves, we can't stop them from coming but we can choose which ones to surf.
– Jonatan Martensson
We begin this week of our self-discovery journey by exploring emotional intelligence.
Being able to accurately and honestly identify our emotions helps us come back into the present moment by grounding ourselves in our body, assessing our needs, managing reactions with self-awareness, and engaging in more thoughtful decision-making. This is “Emotional Intelligence”. Despite the fact that the words “feelings” and “emotions” get used interchangeably they are actually two different, connected, phenomena.
Emotions are the raw data, a reaction to the present reality which generally manifests as a physical/body sensation such as a change in breathing, butterflies in your stomach, sweating, etc.
Once the body speaks we make a “value judgment” based on these sensations. A “value judgment” is a rapid interpretation of the experience followed by our response (hide, step forward, yell, run, etc.). These responses can be valuable information for self-discovery once a pattern is observed.
Feelings manifest first as a thought (sometimes a thought about the emotion we are experiencing). They are an emotional manifestation of conditioning, perceptions, and beliefs. They may be influenced by emotion but our feelings can be distorted or diluted by stories we’ve created in our head based on events of the past or fears of the future—not necessarily the truth of the situation. With practice, we can ask “Is this true?” “Have I correctly identified this feeling place or the emotion connected to it?” and look carefully at how the feeling place is serving you, how often you feel it, and what experiences trigger it.
Listening to our body, informed by our sense perceptions, helps us connect to the reality of our present experience rather than to stories made up of potentially inaccurate perceptions. By becoming adept at honestly identifying our emotions and employing both curiosity and a lack of judgment we can become “emotionally intelligent”.
Let's begin, with a pause.
It has been found that individuals that have experienced trauma may have learned to “numb” their emotions.
Learning to Pause can be instrumental in reopening that channel, correctly identifying our emotions, and coming to an understanding of who we are. Opening that channel can also be scary when those emotions are felt once again. If we are compassionate and accept these emotions as the clues to discovering our authentic selves we can open space for love, gratitude, and a full life.
Let's practice with an emotional body scan:
- Find a quiet, safe space and take three long, slow breaths.
- Think of an emotion you have recently felt until you can feel it.
- Slowly do a body scan beginning with your head, neck, shoulders, and so on.
- Notice where this emotion might be showing up or be stored. These areas are our messengers.
- Place your hands on that area and focus on connecting to it using your breath. Once it has softened, ask your body what it is trying to tell you.
- Sit in silence breathing into this area and staying open to information.
- Can you name the emotion that is connected to this area? Was it the emotion you originally thought it was?
This practice was once commonplace and still is in some cultures.
We were connected to our bodies and we listened. Over time we were taught to look outside of ourselves for answers. That is when the disconnect began to happen and it has not served us well. It is time that we begin to trust ourselves again.
Practice this body scan, daily, until you are able to “tune in” in times of heightened emotion. What you learn will prove very useful on your self-discovery journey.
I speak to my body as if I were speaking to someone I love.
I listen when it speaks back.
As you speak to your body with love, what do you feel it speaking back?
Everyone has a unique beauty.
You are no exception. Look at the people that you love. Do you love them because they are perfect physical specimens or for the joy, comfort, support, and love that they bring to your reality?
Find the beauty in all facets of your being.
The Child, The Teen, The Warrior, The Victim, The Teacher, etc. There are many other facets that make up YOU. Now is a good time to identify them and honor them, with gratitude, by acknowledging their beauty.
This includes the facets of your being that you do not always want to embrace. All of the facets of your being have been instrumental in your life in some important way. They have all been brilliant in their own time and space. They are all beautiful in their own way.
We may feel like there is nothing we can do about our “negative” feelings.
We may have spent years hiding from them or burying them hoping that they don't exist. We can use them for the great information they are when we let them have a voice and experience them. (We don't have to LIVE there indefinitely but these feelings and emotions hold keys to the doorways of our self-discovery.)
Finish these sentences being as honest and nonjudgmental as you can.
Move quickly and if you get “stuck” invent something.
I can remember feeling hurt when …
Sometimes, today, I feel hurt when …
Sometimes, when I am hurt, I …
Sometimes I try to hide my hurt by …
One of the ways I disguise my hurt is by …
If I were willing to fully embrace my hurt …
If I were willing to be more honest about my feelings of hurt …
Sometimes, the frightening thing about admitting my hurt is …
I am becoming aware …
I can remember feeling angry when …
Sometimes, today, I feel angry when …
Sometimes, when I am angry I …
Sometimes I try to hide my anger by …
One of the ways I disguise my anger is by …
If I were willing to embrace my anger with honesty …
Sometimes, the frightening thing about showing my anger is …
If I were to take responsibility for my anger …
A better way to deal with my anger might be …
I am beginning to expect …
Right now it seems obvious that …
What emotions seem to reoccur when you are “stressed”? This exercise may have shown you a lot and may have manifested an emotion or feeling place that is uncomfortable. During reflection remember to show yourself and all facets of your being compassion and acceptance.
What is one reoccurring emotion you've noticed?
For a deeper dive into (so-called) “negative” feelings and using the fragments above, replace the word “hurt or anger” with other feeling words you are curious about. This might include boredom, pessimism, frustration, impatience, overwhelm, doubt, jealousy, guilt, unworthiness, grief, or powerlessness.
Hopefully, we have a lot to reflect on as our subconscious speaks more clearly.
Many of these (so-called) “negative” emotions have been deemed as a weakness, inappropriate, or “bad” by people in our past, culture, or societal influencers. If we have “heard” often enough that we must mask or hide these emotions, it is no wonder that they end up buried deep within us.
We have traveled a great distance down our road to self-discovery.
So let's reflect and integrate:
- Sit quietly with a journal in hand.
- Bring yourself into the present.
- Review, rest and meditate on what you have begun to reveal.
- No judgment … just acceptance and allowance as we begin to understand.
- Document what you have observed.
What is one thing you've discovered about yourself as we explored our emotions and feelings this week?
Sometimes we need to rest. The journey of self-discovery can be exhausting!
Today, choose restful colors and just let your mind and body create.
Feed Your Soul.