have a slice of mood pie

29th November 2019

It’s been one of those days.

You know where you lose an afternoon trying to fix some technical thing that has decided today of all days to crap itself, and *poof* there goes hours in the muck and bullets of helpdesk purgatory, trying to retain some level of patience and humanity.

When these things happen, I can usually hold on to some sense of humour. Some vestige of understanding for the person trying to help (though the temptation to throw a complete tantrum is always Very High).

But that’s the point isn’t it?

That’s why we do this self-reflection work. What’s behind all the effort we endure to know, accept and trust ourselves, the endless boundaries practice, the often tediousness of being mindful – its all for these moments.

For when the tyre is flat, the tiny humans get on our last nerve, we realise we fell in love with the idea of who our person might become rather than the all-too-human being we find ourselves living with.

This is why we do the work.

When we are tested and it’s difficult and frustrating and not what we wanted, we get to choose who we are.

Am I the one who runs? Numbs? Blames? Absorbs? Compares? Denies? Softens?

And how do I decide how to respond from a place of intention?

And how do I stay with myself through all of it?

Because if you are anything like me, you’ll feel lots of feelings and they have to go somewhere.

Learning to properly feel my feelings in the heat of the moment (and practising this for like, ever) allows me to be pretty well lined up with what I value, on a day to day basis.

Just because something feels bad doesn’t mean that it is bad. And it never means that I am bad.

Just because discomfort is sometimes an indicator of emotional pain, it’s not healthy to assume that this is always the case.

And when we characterise some feelings as negative, difficult, intolerable, we train our minds to be afraid of them (which explains why I spent my 30s avoiding loneliness as if it were an Olympic sport).

When we learn how to validate our emotions, we can begin to let go of needing to avoid, fix or eliminate some feelings, and just feel them.

We have built-in reserves of resilience and tenacity and courage that need practice to develop. Feeling our feelings is a gritty kind of adulting boot camp.

And I’m a coach so its a rule that I now give you an easy three-step method for Validating Your Emotions. Which you can simply read and I solemnly promise you’ll never have to feel the craziness of an inconvenient or uncomfortable emotion ever again. YAY.

But seriously, try this (and share it with your kids – they seem to love the ‘mood pie’ idea):

One: Name your emotions. Most of us are pretty unpractised at naming what we’re experiencing. I love how Emily McDowell explains how most of us think our feelings – its a really effective way to avoid discomfort. But have a go at being really specific about what you are feeling: Frustrated? Nervous, Ashamed? Sad?

Two: Notice the complexity of your emotions. It was a revelation to me to acknowledge that I can experience different emotions at the same time, sometimes at different intensities. Whenever you find yourself upset, imagine your feelings as a pie, and then ask: What are the different pieces of this mood pie and how big is each slice?

Three: Practice tolerating emotional discomfort. Of course, we don’t enjoy feeling sad or anxious or guilty (hello negotiating Christmas via the fam Whatsapp group). But we can feel those less-than-great feelings, no matter how intense. To begin proving this to yourself and building up a tolerance, use a timer on your phone and practice sitting with emotions for 90 seconds. Notice where you feel the emotions in your body, notice the shifts. Notice how your body has got you.

 

ABOUT SAS

Hello, I'm Sas Petherick. I'm a self-doubt researcher, coach and podcaster who helps thinking humans transcend self-doubt. If you'd like to receive these posts in your inbox please subscribe here (with bonus info and first notice of opportunities to work with me). PS: I totallyInstagram - join me there?

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