We all have a compass that guides us in our decision-making and is also the first indicator when we are experiencing stress or emotional discomfort. It’s our emotions – frustration, fear, irritability, panic, and anger, etc.
Processing our emotions is an inside job. When we remember that, we are able to work recalibrating our compass back to our true north.
In this practice, we are going to be using the emotional scale as our guide. This practice will not only help you name your emotions, it will help you claim it, feel it, move with it and follow your compass back to feeling the way you want to feel.
Imagine if you just experienced an external stressor and it triggered you. You begin to think, “That makes me so angry!” Your mind starts to play back all the reasons you have to be angry, and even creates new stories that may not even have happened.
For example, let’s use something really small but that we can all relate to. Someone cuts you off and you get angry. No big deal, you are allowed to get angry. It’s scary to get cut off and creates an intense emotional response. Your response was totally normal.
Now imagine that while you think that thought, you then experience an emotional response and now feel the anger and all the emotions, including the physical response to that thought of, “I’m so angry.” But instead of just letting out a few curse words, you begin to think of all the things that could have happened had you not reacted in time. Now you are also experiencing the stress response of anger about stressors that have not even occurred. But your body doesn’t know that. So the anger builds and 42 km later, it has gained momentum.
Now imagine even further if that anger doesn’t leave you, you take with you all day and begin to react, act, respond, or make a decision from the emotional state of anger. What I want you to think about is this, would the reaction, action, response, or decision serve you? Would it be the compass that you would want to follow?
Nothing is wrong with being angry. But how often are we left feeling worse for what we did, or said in our angry state? Feeling the anger doesn’t mean we have to act on the anger.
This share isn’t just about processing anger; it is about all emotions. This is really important because our decisions are made from how we feel, or how we think it will make us feel, or how we want to feel. Your emotions inform your decisions.
In 2020, we have been experiencing a lot of emotions during this COVID-19 pandemic, and while I write this, we are 8 months in and still have so many unknowns. We are experiencing lots of frustration, fear, hopelessness, and even sadness. Let’s just say we have been experiencing all the feels. Many of us are feeling very normal emotions to an abnormal situation.
We have an ever moving and vast emotional scale. In the book, Ask and It Is Given, by Esther & Jerry Hicks, they describe the scale as this:
4. Positive Expectation/Belief
During stressful, or emotionally turbulent times, we can either move down the scale with the decisions we make, or we can move up.
What I want is for us to be able to feel the normal emotions of frustration, or disappointment, or worry, AND also feel empowered, joy, love, hope, optimism.
Instead of having to choose just one, we navigate our way through the terrain. AND, when we are being triggered by a stressor, we use the emotional scale to help us to make better informed decisions, which includes our actions and reactions.
So I’m going to take you through some steps on how to do this. I’ll use an example of a stressor I experienced in my business.
Step 1: Claiming How You Feel
The first month after the stay-at-home order was issued, I was feeling really off. I had lost my biggest revenue earning, which was workshops and speaking engagements and knew I needed to take these online, like what I’ve done with this workshop, because it could be 12 months before I could do this in person again. But I had no motivation, and I couldn’t pin-point how I was feeling. So I looked at this scale, which I have on my computer when I need the reminder and I realized that what I was feeling was discouraged.
Each day I was looking at my endless to-do list and all the things I needed to do to start bringing in revenue, but it felt like an endless stairwell to climb. I wasn’t feeling enthusiastic about doing it – it takes a lot of work and in person is better. And instead of bypassing the normal emotions I was feeling in a very abnormal stressful situation, I claimed how I was feeling. That is the first step. I always say, “claim it, before it claims you.” So I simply said, “I’m feeling so discouraged about everything that needs to be done and I don’t know where to begin. And you know what, that is okay.”
By claiming it, I was instantly able to shift my compass just a little. By remembering, that “of course you are feeling discouraged. Look what is happening in the world right now. This is hard. You have to do some hard things.” I didn’t go straight to how I wanted to feel yet, but that is okay. I went from feeling discouraged to simply frustrated about what is happening around the globe and the affect it is having. Normalizing my emotional response.
Step 2: Acknowledging How You Want To Feel
If our emotions inform our decisions, and they do, the second step that I did was to acknowledged how I would prefer to feel. I don’t want to feel discouraged, I don’t even want to feel frustrated, even though it is okay and very normal and I looked at the scale and said, “in this situation, I would feel enthusiastic about these changes I need to make in my business, I want to feel eager to do the work that needs to be done, and I want to feel empowered that even in this difficult situation, I was able to shift my business and to generate income for myself and my family and still serving my community.
Step 3: Taking Action Based On How You Want To Feel
At this point, I’m starting to feeling pretty optimistic, and feeling like I had a better compass to follow. I knew how I would prefer to feel, but also wasn’t bypassing how I was feeling and trying to pretend and fake it. I was able to think of the actions, including my thoughts and attitude that I could take to move up the emotional scale.
When I was making decisions from the place of discouragement, I wasn’t taking any action. I was stuck in whoa is me, there is a problem to each solution, there is no way I can taken in person workshop and make it digital, who will buy this. I was also doing a lot of busy work, saying to myself, “I’ll just wait until I’m in the mood.”
But the thing is, I wasn’t getting in the mood because making the decision from the way I didn’t want to feel, that discouragement, just made me feel more of what I was feeling because I was continuing the same cycle and that was also making me move down the scale even further because I started to feel guilty, and my self-worth started to come into question, my confidence was dropping and I had all this fear come in over the financial stress. That didn’t feel good.
To do what needed to be done, I needed to start to make decisions from how I wanted to feel. What would a person who felt empowered, enthusiastic and eager do? What decisions would she make? What action would she take? How would an empowered woman act? How would an empowered woman react and respond? What would a woman who felt eager and enthusiastic do?
I created a plan and took action from that place.
Making your decisions from how you want to feel, instead of from the place you don’t want to feel, but also being kind to yourself, giving yourself grace, one step, not the entire staircase, knowing that it is okay to feel whatever it is you are feeling, gives you a true north compass to follow.
I know that I’m making it sound so simple. The practice is simplistic, but not always easy. If you are feeling all the feels of stress, or emotional discomfort let’s name it and claim it.
Practice Makes Imperfectly Perfect
Step 1: Claim how you are currently feeling. Take a look at the emotional scale. If you could put a name to it, where are you on the scale?
Take full responsibility for it and give yourself grace. You feel it, it matters. Claim it so it no longer claims you.
Step 2: This is the easiest. In the situation you are currently in that is causing the emotional discomfort, how do you want to feel instead?
Step 3: What actions, reactions, responses, or decisions can you and would you take if you felt this way? What do you need to do to feel this way? Decide what you really want and be purposeful and deliberate. I encourage you to establish daily routines, even little rituals that will help you to keep your compass calibrated and continuously moving towards what you want, even if it feels slow. Keep the image of one step at a time in your mind, not the entire staircase.
Align yourself with actions that allow you to feel even just slightly better. It is a process of consciously being aware of how you are feeling, and deciding if you are okay with where you are. This puts you in the driver’s seat of your life, consciously moving up or down the emotional scale with the decisions that you make.
Are the current actions, thoughts, reactions, responses and decisions, supporting the way you want to feel, or enhancing how you don’t want to feel even further?
Using the emotional scale as my compass when things are not feeling right is what helps me recalibrate back to how I want to feel. No guilt, no shoulda, coulda, woulda, or I wish I had. I just simply push the reset button and choose again.
Journal Prompts To Deepen The Inner Work
Let’s take the conversation above even further with some writing work.
1. Think about every area of your life, or even a challenge you are trying to overcome. What do you need to feel the way you want to feel and what will it take? Go through each life area: your career, relationships, personal and professional life, your health, even your finances. How do you want to feel in each area and what will it take to achieve it?
2. Are the current actions, thoughts, reactions, response and decisions currently supporting the way you want to feel, or enhancing how you don’t want to feel even further? If not, what needs to change?
“The greatest gift that you could ever give to another is your own happiness. For when you are in a state of joy, happiness, or appreciation, you are fully connected to the stream of pure, positive Source Energy that is truly who you are. And when you are in that state of connection, anything or anyone that you are holding as your object of attention benefits from your attention.”Esther & Jerry Hicks, Ask & It Is Given