Are you expecting a blog about food? Sorry to disappoint you but I do think this is an important topic – owning the entire complement (pie) of our emotions. Let’s get started …
Imagine the last time you felt a strong (negative) emotion. Maybe you were angry with your partner or your kids or your boss or the idiot driver in front of you. Maybe you were anxious about a meeting, a confrontation, an important decision. Maybe you were afraid of rejection, a failure, a confrontation. Maybe your feelings were hurt. Got that event in mind?
Here’s my example: yesterday I was having lunch with a past friend – someone I haven’t seen in a long time for reasons I really didn’t understand – someone from my ‘past’ life – someone who has a faith that I no longer understand.
From this list, choose the primary emotion you experience: Anger – Disgust – Envy – Fear – Jealousy – Sadness – Shame – Guilt
My example: Since right this minute, I’m limited to these 8 words, I’ll choose Fear (anxiety is fear)
(note: if you want to make this more nuanced, print this and find the best words to describe your emotions: https://www.cnvc.org/sites/default/files/feelings_inventory_0.pdf) -- this is a GREAT organization!
Now we start to divide the pie. Ask yourself, what else did I feel? Rarely are our emotions encapsulated in one simple word. As I tried to “sit with” my anxiety, I also tried to understand what other emotions were stirring and possibly feeding the anxiety.
My example: First, because this person is from my past life, I started to feel the usual shame over how the school closed. In other words, all of my history got brought into the present. There is also some guilt here.
Second, I was envious that she still had her faith.
Third – and this one is hard to admit and therefore may be the most important – I was angry that she still had her faith and mine is gone. Not angry at her. I need to try to understand who/what about that makes me angry. I suppose, if I’m honest, I’m angry at God. Which makes me revisit what I really believe about God … a whole new pie.
Fourth, sadness because she was one of the few people from that life that I wanted to keep. And, I thought I would keep. I thought I was important enough to her that she would try. I think this makes me a bit angry too J.
Create the slices. Basically, all you’re doing is deciding how big each piece is. I’m going to create an actual pie.
Do you see how much more complex our emotions are? As I did this analysis (and it only took me a few minutes), I was able to identify something that needs to be addressed more seriously so it doesn’t grow roots: my anger with God feels very raw. I would not have identified this if I hadn’t taken the time to own the entire pie.
Now you get to own the whole pie. Take a few seconds (and that’s all it takes) to jot dot a sentence for each emotion – giving yourself permission to feel this way! It’s easy, it’s releasing and it’s even relaxing:
I sat in a group yesterday and one of the participants talked about her disappointment in a decision her son made. Within her explanation, she made two seemingly innocuous statements: “It’s not about him. It’s about me.” And “It’s not about the money, it was only $100.”
It dawned on me then that at least part of her upset was about him and it was about the money. AND THAT’S OKAY! It’s okay for our emotions to be about a lot of things. When I pointed this out, it was a revelation to her and to me. As soon as she said, “You’re right, at least part of my problem is that I’m angry we’re losing that money. I feel like I was manipulated and taken advantage of.” I asked her was it okay to feel angry about that? Her eyes lit up when she agreed that it was okay.
That’s the point of the pie.
Disclaimer – it’s okay to feel what we feel – it’s not necessarily okay to act in any way we want!
If you took the time to do this, can you feel that the strong emotion has diffused? You’ve made it manageable and acceptable!
In April 2012 I had a mental breakdown. The real thing. I have about 36 hours that I don’t remember....