Thunderstorms can sweep in, seemingly without warning, and create quite a mess. Downed limbs, flooding, loud booms… they are not easily missed. They invite us to hunker down inside, waiting out the storm. And we believe the storm will pass. It always does. We know we are safe and secure in our homes. We believe we are going to be ok.
Emotions are just like weather. They come, they go. They can cause wreckage, or fill us to the brim with gratitude, sometimes both in the blink of an eye. Rain mixed with rainbows one minute, hail the next, then the thunder, then the brightest blue sky you think you have ever seen. They will pass on by, like weather, if we allow them to.
Oh, the allowing. That is the one we tend to struggle with the most. The process can be much like watching that thunderstorm from inside your safe home. Seeing it happen with perspective. Believing you are safe no matter how big and overwhelming the emotion storm feels. Believing that if you take a deep breath, get curious about your experience, and take a minute to just watch, you will see. You will know that you can save yourself from whatever the threat is. You don’t have to stop the emotion. You can allow it to exist without placing all of your attention toward it.
Talking to your emotions like different characters that live within you can be wildly helpful.
“Well, hello Fear. You are here again. I see you. Thank you for the information, I know you are just trying to protect me. I will keep all of that in mind as I decide what to do next.”
Then, take a moment to decide what is next. Breathe. Notice what is happening in your body. Are you feeling tightness? Pain? Where? Your stomach? Head? Back? Neck? Shoulders? Eyes? Jaw? Imagine drawing breath into that area and breathing out the tension. Breathe in. And out. In. And out. Focus on your breath. Count the breaths to 5 and then start over again. Until you find yourself returning to your center.
Breathe. Deep into your belly so you can see or feel it rise and fall.
This helps the storm pass and allows the blue skies and mental clarity to return. We are back to center.
Even if only for a moment.
Emotions are like weather. They come and they go. If we allow them to.
“Hello there Shame. You again. I know you want me to be small so I don’t get hurt. You tell me to roll that incident over and over again in my head just to prove that I am just not enough and never will be. I know you are trying to help. Thank you for the information, but, I’ve got this. You are not truthful. I am choosing to believe new things. I am choosing to believe that I AM enough. So, I am going to ______________. I am going to feel the fear and do it anyway knowing that I can handle whatever the outcome is. I believe in me.”
I believe it was Brene Brown (yep, I am a HUGE fan of hers) who says: Talk to yourself like you are someone you love.
When we do that, the emotion storms pass much faster. We get back to center much faster. We live more wholehearted and fullfilling lives. We are more mindful in our day to day lives.
It takes practice. It will never be perfect. EVER.
AND, we will get better and better at seeing our emotional weather and being curious about it. Yes, this is mindfulness.
Hmm, I’m feeling super sluggish and irritable today. I wonder why? What do I need? Sleep? Connection with supportive people? Clearer boundaries with friends or family members? Exercise? Better nutrition? Maybe I just need to sit in this feeling a bit and stay curious about it and see what comes. I don’t need to make it go away to be able to take care of myself. I can take care of myself AND feel sluggish and irritable. This will pass. And maybe it has something to teach me. I wonder what I can learn here.
I know, it can feel goofy. It also works. It allows the storm to run it’s course without taking you all the way down with it. It allows you to feel the full range of emotions, from the most comfortable (love, joy, excitement) to the most uncomfortable (fear, jealously, betrayal, grief, shame) and be able to not only “weather” them but truly gain wisdom and personal insight from the experience of them. Really, it works.
Meditation is helpful in practicing these tools regularly so that when the storm hits, your brain already knows what to do…. deep breath, sit back, watch, allow the feeling to exist… be curious. Gain perspective. Breathe. Find your center. Breathe.
And go from there.