STONE ELEVEN CONTINUED
Feel: I allow myself to feel. My emotions are part of my being. By allowing myself to feel, I heal and grow.
Instruction: Examine your emotions.
We find it easy to watch the emotions of other people, but when it comes to examining our own emotions, we rarely give it much consideration. It can be fun to watch a baby explore their range of emotions, all done on a subconscious level, and see them go from contentment, to joy, to lightheartedness, and to disappointment or irritation. The emotions in a baby are stimulated by circumstances beyond the child’s control. Hunger and weariness dictate emotions, but so do feelings of happiness that are often generated by a parent’s presence, love, and attention. As we watch, we can see the child’s emotions alter as things change in its life. We are not alarmed by this fact, but we do have our preferences, and we do want a happy baby who loves to laugh and play. We don’t judge or condemn a baby who cries, because we understand that the crying of the baby is their way of communicating their needs to us.
Taking a lesson from the moods of a baby will allow us to find ways to examine our own emotions and learn how to deal with them. It’s important to remember that we are not our emotions. Sometimes we might say something like, “I am angry,” but we are not anger incarnate. The better way to express the emotion is to say, “I feel angry,” “I feel tired,” or “I feel sad.” This is the beginning of being able to examine, identify, and then eventually to release unwanted emotions. The next step in the process is to realize that emotions are not good or bad, evil or divine, and that all emotions were created for us to help us cope with life. Acting improperly on an emotion is the time when we can make value judgments, but even these judgments don’t always prevent us from making the same mistakes again.
A better way to work with our emotions is to be able to examine them, name them if possible, step back from them, and then decide what we want to do with them. Some of this process happens almost automatically. When we feel hungry, we have that moment in which we realize that we are, and we might even say to ourselves out loud that we are hungry. We’ve named it, so now we examine it to see if we want to do something with the emotion. Many times we will get something to eat, but other times we might be dieting, so we decide to ignore the emotion. The important thing is that the choice is ours, and we will make that choice consciously or subconsciously, but either way, we are responsible.
Make it a practice today to change the way you talk to yourself. Instead of saying “I am irritated,” say instead, “I feel irritated.” We might think the difference is too subtle to make a difference, but it reminds us that we are experiencing an emotion and that we are not that emotion. This practice can also be helpful with our self-esteem.
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