These days it seems everyone feels like they are in some sort of trap. Some people are trapped by others and some are trapped by themselves. Whatever the case may be, many people all over the world are feeling this way. I want us all to feel less trapped and less alone even though we are living through a crisis. During these difficult times, most of us do not give ourselves the "go ahead" to recognize our emotions and understand why they are there. We often want to run away from ourselves and let me tell you, I have done my fair share of stuffing my feelings down. However, at any time, but most importantly, at this time, stuffing down how we feel is counterintuitive. We all know it. We all hear this advice all of the time, but now it's time to start taking this advice.
I have been working through my own feelings of feeling trapped recently. I've done this by writing, making songs, creating artwork, crying, and even venting lol. I wanted to create something cohesive for friends, family members, and you, so that others could do the same. Therefore, I created this exercise called, “Owning Your Trap.” We will explore this exercise over the next couple of months. Each of my blog posts will be one step of the exercise that we can be mindful of and put into practice. This week’s step is called, “Identifying Your Trap.”
Owning Your Trap
Identifying Your Trap
Step 1: Whatever emotions you may be repressing or whatever situation is plaguing you, I want you to try and see them as not good or bad, but as neutral.
Explanation: Life is life. The world is the world. Sometimes there is nothing more we can do, but accept it. The only way to accept situations and feelings that are really difficult, is to feel them. If we fight them, we get back to that counterintuitive pathway because feelings always come back one way or another.
Experience: When I was in counseling for depression, my counselor told me to think of my emotions as people who came to plan a party at my house. It would be rude to run them out or tell them to leave. More often than not, those party planners always came back to have that party anyways. Let sadness have a crying party. Let shame have a pity party. Let anger have a rage party. All we can do is wait it out and we might find that the party they planned wasn't so bad to be apart of, but maybe even healing.
Question: "When you feel an intense emotion what do you do?"
Step 2: Don't judge yourself. Our minds are like corn fields. Once you lay down a pathway, your mind will always go in that direction. Actually take control here, reprogram your mind, and allow those feelings to flow in and out of you without judgement.
Explanation: Ever had a friend or a family member who was really judgmental and critical of you? When we judge ourselves internally for every little thought or feeling we have, we often make ourselves feel that same way. Do that for years and you may find yourself not having much self-esteem. We can have toxic relationships with people, but we can also have them with ourselves.
Experience: It is very easy for me to judge others and my self. I find that my judgement of others, often comes from the judgement of myself. These days, when I find myself judging others, I ask myself, "What do you see in them that is a reflection of you?" That question will often stop my nasty habit lol.
Question: "How often do you judge yourself?"
Step 3: Let's call your repressed emotions and bad situations, 'your trap'. Feel free to write 'your trap' on a piece of paper. If you like, illustrate what your trap looks and feels like.
Explanation: I am an artist and when I am feeling low, creating something always helps me feel better. Do not feel like you have to be Michael Angelo to create art. Art doesn't always have to be beautiful and perfect, but it can always be healing and give us foresight into what's happening within. If you have heard of music or art therapy, they use this same principal in this type of therapy.
Experience: I play ukulele, sing, paint, draw and write. While I do these things, I make sure to not judge myself for what I do or come up with. I do it and then I don't look at it again. We often link being creative and acting child-like to being naive. Remember step 2 and don't judge, just enjoy. Imagine all of the negativity flowing out of you into a song, a page, or a canvas.
Question: "What is holding you back?"
Reference and resource: Art of Empathy by Karla McLaren Chapter 4: p. 108-110
Emotional Vocabulary List p. 303-307
I have been reading this book, the Art of Empathy by Karla McLaren. Chapter four in her book talks about noticing our emotions and naming them. I found this very useful for my own "self-help." Feel free to look it up or contact me. I have a free PDF I wouldn't mind sending to anyone who needs it. Today's step was my own take and thoughts on this idea of "noticing and naming our emotions."
I hope you all have enjoyed this first step of exercise and that it helps you in your pathway to freedom. Remember to always follow your own instinct and take your own advice. I will see you in a couple weeks where we will talk about "triggers" and situations that may jolt us into an unwanted feeling. If you have enjoyed this step in the exercise and have put it into practice, please feel free to comment below! See you next time!