Do you ever get completely overwhelmed? Like it’s all just too much? And what do you do then?
Anxiety, for example. How does YOUR body feel when you get anxious?
I tend to feel anxiety as a gripping in my stomach. Very uncomfortable! And what I do when I feel that is:
- I pause…
- I notice how I’m feeling (That doesn’t sound like much but it’s really important)
- and then I say Hello to SOMETHING IN ME that is feeling anxious.
A lot of my favorite stories are about people who’ve used this method with feelings from irritation to embarrassment to anger… I enjoy hearing how they were able to shift their relationship to those feelings, which resulted in new thoughts about their situation, and a lot more possibilities for action and interaction. Basically, not having to be so stuck!
Pause… notice how you’re feeling… acknowledge it… and feel yourself get bigger than your feelings. Right? It works!
But what happens when you’re feeling so many different feelings, one right on top of the other, that it’s overwhelming!
In this episode of Inner Peace for Challenging Times, you’ll hear how my student Senara learned how to work with lots of overwhelming feelings happening all at once so she could come back to a sense of inner peace.
That’s what happened to my student Senara. Senara’s relationship with her daughter hasn’t always been easy so she treasures opportunities to share common experiences. They have a mutual love of books and sometimes recommend them to each other.
Recently, Senara was really moved by a book, and she recommended it to her daughter. And for whatever reason, this time her daughter dismissed it. “No, Mom, I’m just not interested in that.” And that really stung. This exchange happened through email, so Senara had time to do the steps I teach for being with strong feelings.
She paused… because she already knew she was having a strong reaction. And she asked herself, “OK, how am I feeling about getting back, ‘Mom, I’m just not interested in that.’?”
But the trouble was, it wasn’t just one feeling!
First it was anger. And before she could acknowledge the anger, it was also disappointment. And then, right on the heels of that, something like resentment, like, “I’ve done so much for HER!” And then a big feeling of loneliness crowded in.
At that point, Senara threw up her hands and stopped trying to acknowledge any more of her feelings… because she could tell there were even more. She simply felt overwhelmed because there were too many!
How does the method of pausing and acknowledging how you feel work when you have too many feelings? That’s what Senara asked me, the next time we met in class.
And of course, I said that being overwhelmed is another feeling she could have said Hello to.
But what can we DO when something in us feels overwhelmed because too many feelings are coming on top of each other?
What I shared with Senara that day is called the Power of And. I developed it along with Barbara McGavin as part of our method called Untangling®. The word “and” is a very powerful word when it comes to creating a relationship with a number of feelings at the same time!
“And” is like a spacer. It allows you to have a lot of feelings next to each other, without them having to compete with each other for your attention.
Let’s use Senara’s story and I’ll show you what I mean. So the first thing she felt in response to her daughter’s email was anger.
She says to herself: “I am sensing something in me is angry.” Then right away, she also feels disappointment. OK, so she added disappointment to her first sentence using the word AND. That would sound like this: “I am sensing something in me is angry AND something in me is disappointed.”
If there had been a moment to do so, she would have said Hello to both of them. But no, before she could do that, resentment arrived. OK: “I am sensing something in me is angry AND something in me is disappointed AND something in me is resentful…”
Yes, the sentence is getting long! But the sentence structure itself allows a feeling of inner space. These feelings are here… and I am here. I AM the space where all these feelings can be as they are.
You see, what overwhelms us is not the fact that we have more than one feeling. It’s that we ourselves start to feel small and inadequate under the onslaught of all those feelings. And we don’t have to.
No matter how many feelings you have, YOU are big enough to acknowledge all of them… if you do it one at a time, using the magical word AND.
What was that sentence again: “I am sensing something in me is angry AND something in me is disappointed AND something in me is resentful… and I am here with all of them.” What a difference that makes.
Do you want more of my tips for calm in the midst of stress?
Join my free e-course, Get Bigger Than What’s Bugging You. In five simple lessons, you’re well on your way to responding differently to the triggers of life.
Here’s to you… having a more peaceful life!