For many of us understanding how we feel can be challenging. Most of the time there is a disconnect between the feelings and what we are feeling. Unfortunately, we are only aware of the feelings once we have been hijacked by them. In such instances as heightened anxiety or panic attacks, but by then it’s too late. Our responses are reflexive (they happen without much thought) rather than reflective (understanding what is going on and doing something about it).
Here are some tips to help put you back in control:
Bodily sensations: A lot of the time we rarely pay attention to what is going on at a physical level. Yet these physical feelings have a very big impact on our psychology and mental well-being. In order to develop an understanding of what is going on at a physical level we need to befriend our body. Take time to listen to it. Remember, stress in not just what goes on in our heads, we also carry it in our bodies. An example being in our stomach - butterflies.
Without judgment, take time to notice this. Sometimes it is dismissed as a dodgy stomach, but take some time out. Notice how it feels, and then how you feel. It can be helpful to name it. “Maybe I feel anxious” or “Upset” or “Excited”. Then gently check why you feel this way. “Tiredness” or “work stresses” etc.
It doesn’t have to be the stomach; it can be other parts too. Become familiar with yourself – notice the tightness of muscles or the ache in your back. Your body has a great warning system to inform you something isn’t quite right. Use it and check in with yourself.
Questions of “Why, who and you?”
Have you ever offered to do something when you really didn’t want to? Or gone along with something, but inside you are screaming at yourself?
The end result is often the same. You feel bad. You’re annoyed at yourself and give yourself a hard time. You say to yourself, “I won’t do that again!” Until the next time, that is. Have you ever heard the saying, “Don’t say maybe, if you mean no.”?
There are a variety of reasons this can occur; however, I find asking yourself some questions can be very useful. Again, without judgment and with compassion, gently check in with yourself with the following questions:
Why am I doing it? (Because I feel pressured or put upon?)
And who am I doing it for? (I’m doing it for them, because it’s what they want?)
Does it feel right for you? (Am I going to feel bad again?)
This approach can help develop understanding as to why we are doing what we do or agree to do. So rather than our responses being reflexive they are reflective and considered. It allows space and understanding and puts you in the driver’s seat. Nobody enjoys going through life being a passenger.