How can you reconnect with yourself when everything feels out of control?
This topic has been coming up in my coaching practice, and I wanted to share it with you because it might be useful for you too.
With all the present events, emotions play a crucial role in our lives, whether we are aware of not, emotions are here every day and influencing our behavior; they rise for a reason.
For example, when we feel sad, usually, it’s because we are missing something or someone. From there on, we can connect with others in a way that we cannot do if we feel angry; we relate with empathy in a marvelous way.
What would it be to lose the ability to feel sad?
So, this is my invitation for this difficult time: welcome your emotions and pay more attention to your internal conversations. By challenging your thoughts, you will be able to unlock new emotions and new options that can lead to new actions.
Emotion: A person’s internal state of being and involuntary physiological response to an object or a situation.
We are all at different stages of the acceptance curve. Some people feel resistant to this new situation, many are sad, most anxious, while others are starting to accept it.
The most frequent question I got asked during these past weeks was whether it is ok to feel like that.
If you are reading this and you feel afraid, sad, anxious, calm, or some other strong emotion, please do remember that we do not choose our emotions.
Yes, as surprising as that sound, it is true. Emotions just are; they pop up after an event or a particular internal conversation. So, something happens first, and then an emotion rises.
Let me share an example.
Imagine that you hear a noise at your front door at night, ask yourself, what’s the first thing you would think?
Usually, we start with an internal conversation, one that’s related to the group that we belong to. Let me explain.
Group A: you might start thinking, “Maybe they are burglars in my house and they are trying to get in.” This creates a cascade of thoughts and you remember someone posting online something about people checking outdoors and cars if the lights are turned off. And the conversation goes on and on
Group B: you might think, “Who that can be?” You remember a friend told you she was going to drop something, but also it feels weird because it’s kind of late.
Group C: you might think, “Ah, that must be someone delivering a package, or even an animal.”
Depending on the group you are in, different emotions might appear.
Group A: You would feel afraid (I will definitely be in this group).
Group B: You might feel curious or intrigued
Group C: You might feel calm.
So, what happens next?
What comes next is a critical element in your story, after the thoughts and the emotions, come the actions Yes, what we do has a strong relationship with the previous step. It is so powerful and fast that sometimes, we do not even realize it and it feels like one single step.
So, going back to the alternatives.
Group A – afraid: you might hide, call the police, grab a bat, or turn the lights on.
Group B – curious: you might go and check at the front door, or even call your friend.
Group C – ok: maybe you wait until the next morning, or you look at your phone, or you check out.
I tend to think that every emotion – thought relationship opens a menu of actions. So, if we are afraid, there is no possible way for us to become curious. Fear can paralyze us. It’s barely impossible to feel afraid and go to the door as it’s is difficult to feel curious and hide rather than check out what’s going on.
So, this is how it works:
EVENT, THOUGHTS+ EMOTIONS = ACTIONS.
That is the reason why some people’s actions have nothing to do with the actions of others, some are hoarding food, some are working as nothing happened, some are so worried they cannot sleep or even achieve a lot and some are enjoying this time to connect with themselves and others.
I will not dig into the physical sensations, but please know there is also a physical sensation in our body related to our thoughts and emotions. And, sometimes, they are the ones that alert us that something is going on.
Going back to the first idea, emotions just are; we do not choose them.
And the good news is that we can do something about it, and it is precisely in our thoughts, our mental conversations, the way we fuel our emotions.
A thought is just a thought; it’s not a fact. Most of the time, they have nothing to do with the present situation (they are collections of past experiences and future predictions), and we get tangled in them.
The challenge is to ask ourselves, “What other thoughts can we invite in that particular moment? How can we push ourselves outside our comfort zone?”
Even when we feel afraid, we can try to pause for a second and think that maybe it’s only an animal, and then a different option will start unfolding.
This is my invitation to you during this difficult time: welcome your emotions and pay more attention to your internal conversations. By challenging your thoughts, you will be able to unlock new emotions and new options that can lead to new actions.