We all experience anxiety and anger: it’s part of being human. However, sometimes this can take over. Often, it looks like shaking hands and a wobbly voice, heat flushing under our skin and racing thoughts we cannot control.
It’s so uncomfortable, yet it comes naturally…
I don’t need to explain why it’s important to manage this adrenaline response… whatever stress or difficulty you may face, we all want to feel capable and strong. And for the to happen, we need to trust our own abilities to manage our body, our mind or our emotions.
Whether that trust or control is focused on not punching your boss, not making a snide comment at your father-in-law, or not bursting into angry tears at your desk; the aim to manage our emotions is universal.
Without this, we feel lost; the guilt and overwhelm dragging our mood down, holding our attention instead of being able to concentrate on our creative soul-work.
We Focus on the Shaking
Mostly though, we CAN control some of these things, and the problem is not capability.
If you think back across the past day, week or months, there will be times you bit your tongue on a comment, sighed instead of swore in front a kid or bottled up an emotion to get through an event.
We’re all capable; no matter how we might feel in that emotional moment.
It’s just they don’t teach this stuff in schools! We don’t know how to always ACCESS this ability.
So I’ve begun to teach. Hai there.
Step One is to Pause
Begin building the picture about what is happening. I start with this format:
- “How am I feeling?”
- “What is my body doing?”
- “How am I behaving?”
- “What thoughts are arising?”
This is a great way to get out of that head-space of shaky-emotion-fuel, without judging how we’re feeling or thinking.
“How am I feeling?” Anxious. Frustrated. Emotionally Exhausted. Sad.
“What is my body doing?” Shaking hands and head, racing thoughts, dry mouth, heart pumping, clammy palms.
“How am I behaving?” I’ve run into the bathroom to hide. I’m swearing at that person in my head.
“What thoughts are arising?” I’m trying to control this but it feels impossible. I shouldn’t feel like this.
Grand. Now take a few steadying breaths.
When our body and mind are in that anxious, aggravated fight-of-flight space, writing these ‘facts’ down can give us that ‘pause’ space to breathe, and help us notice patterns or links.
Noticing and Paying Attention to What Happens is the first habit to making changes. Only when we know about something, can we change them.
This SOUNDS Simple
However, there a couple of places where people get stuck.
- They try to do this when they are feeling too vulnerable.
I do this in my head regularly, but I’ve been using this took for over 4 years. For writing it on paper and getting that physical, actual, hand-written space (recommended!) do this in a space that feels safe.
Ask yourself these 4 questions in a space you can release those emotions. Whether that’s sat in a bathroom cubicle or you remember to try this 5 hours after the event: and you can totally complete it at home once things have calmed. There will still be space created and learning will still happen!
- Forgetting what the 4 areas are.
Write them down in your diary, on your phone or even questioning three of the areas will help raise the awareness and noticing. Thoughts, Feelings, Body sensations… if you miss the Behaviours on occasion, you’ll still gain insights. This is a tool for gaining knowledge, for exploring your own experience and responses. Any work sitting with the reflection will be of benefit.
- They try to find patterns immediately.
It’s most useful to do a couple of these ‘event maps’ and when you have 3-5 together, then look at the situations, the similarities or the differences to begin planning how things can shift. Long-term, this is much like tracking progress so you can plan ahead.
But in the moment, it’s helpful for me to separate my emotions from the bodily sensations, from those (often unhelpful) thoughts and then understand how I’m reacting or behaving due to the other three!
How will this help?
– Thoughts are just thoughts. They are not facts 100% true forever. Identifying that this scary thought may not actually be true, or real, or helpful… it can sometimes remove some of that fear nad power it holds over you.
– Behaviours are things we can control. Thus identifying common behaviours can help us to prioritise shifts in our responses we can actually change.
Both Emotions and Physical Symptoms can be altered by changing our thoughts, and our behaviours.
Do you struggle to manage your emotions and physical symptoms? I support creative lifelong learners and practical dreamers to manage self-doubt, anxiety and overwhelm so that they can follow their inner fire, with confidence.
– Learn more about how I can help here or begin with 4 steps to jump-start your mental energy below.