Big Feelings is a general term I use for feelings that show up and take over. Often, these Big Feelings are not even relevant to what is going on. For example, I have been in delightful settings – even on a vacation…no work, no expectations or pressure from some external source….and the Big Feeling has saturated my inside world.
Fortunately, I have learned strategies to help lessen these incidental moments. However, even though I know the strategies and know it will pass – it still sucks when it happens.
One humorous (totally serious at the time) warning signal that I am stuck and not in my ‘flow’ (sometimes it’s a really covert take over) is when I am convinced there is nothing to eat. I live next door to a specialty grocery store and across the street from a big chain grocery store. The variety and interchangeable number of ingredients is infinite…like a combination of words or music notes. Yet, I seemingly cannot come up with a combination that is good enough.
Stuck. In. Big. Feelings. (lack…limitation…scarcity…)
During the week, my focus is working with children. So the term Big Feelings seems to fit the clientele. Sometimes if or when I use this phrase with adults it can sound a bit silly.
Anyway, a simplistic observation or easy entry point into practicing self-awareness is to begin to observe when Big Feelings have shown up (nervous system is in charge) or when you are in your natural state – expansive, creative, full of vast options and possibilities. (plenty…unlimited…abundant…)
The latter is such a comfort…I love this connection. Love. I love it so much that I prefer solitude as often as possible because, for me, the connection to this expansive energy source is so easily transferable in solitude.
I know, I know. You probably do not prefer solitude.
That’s resistance btw. Just to throw that in there. Don’t worry…you and I are not meant to exist in solitude. We are social and need the interaction of others to grow and continue to create new ideas and expansive ways of being in this cool physical place.
However, if results in your life have become stagnant and you seem to continually seem stuck in a cyclical pattern of thought or circumstance…solitude is a great starting point to return to your natural state. Start with 30 seconds and build from there. Heck…start with one second!
Solitude is not what this blog post is about. Right now I cannot remember what it is about.
I just reread my writing, and I’m not totally sure where I am going with it…but I think it’s time for a few strategies that help soothe the nervous system and help us return to our natural state.
- Change the channel. This could easily be a three hour workshop by itself. Simply, your pattern of thought is telling a story. The story is contributing to the mood or state you are in. Can you change the thoughts and tell a different story? Yes, you can. Especially if you have a go-to thought or image that you have practiced – some subject that doesn’t rattle you…ever. A pet, child, nature, place, etc.
- Move. If you are stuck. Energy is stuck. Move to get the energy unstuck. And if I may… insert curriculum concept: Movement.Breath.Kindness. = move to get energy unstuck…breath to settle energy…practice kindness to yourself to remind you of what’s true. This is also easily a three hour workshop…you’d think maybe I should be doing that for a living…hm…never thought that before…jk.
- Notice.Name. This is actually the first skill I list in the Check In curriculum. Notice the physical world around you and as simply as possible name what you notice. Tree. Runner. Goose. – use simple words that are general and nonreactive. This should be a super easy skill to begin to soothe and help shift focus away from the agitated state.
A clarification of what I wrote earlier…practice noticing the experience of Big Feelings. Big Feelings in charge or You! are in charge. As mentioned in a previous blog – own the expansive, natural state when you are in it (I teach and personally use the phrase…’now this is me’).
The Big Feelings are not bad. The kids at school like to refer to the Big Feelings as ‘bad’ and the good feelings as ‘good’. Perhaps a better way to practice the story we tell around uncomfortable feelings is that the reason they are uncomfortable is to get our attention. This is where the skill of self-awareness comes in – “holy shit…what the hell happened! my stomach is so tight…my thoughts are crazy and mean…where did this come from? what is happening?” Once you begin to notice (self-awareness) you can differentiate and begin to pick up on thought patterns and how they connect to the feeling state.
I am in charge of me.
Big Feelings are just energy in motion (e-motion)…they are communicating with me.
When I change my thinking…I can disrupt the state or mood I am in.
What story am I telling and what mood or state am I feeding by telling this story?
How do I like to feel?
What can I control?
(answer: the story I tell…)