If I were to ask you right now how you are, would you even pause before giving me a stock answer? Or, would you make the time to take a quick personal inventory, before telling me something resembling the truth?
We're becoming increasingly programmed to fire off an automatic "I'm good thanks" that I worry we're losing touch with our ability to connect with our inner selves. Whilst it's true not everyone deserves, or desires, to know how you're truly feeling, what does matter is that you know, can handle whatever that state might be, and that you understand how it is just a state after all.
WHAT IS A STATE?
From an NLP perspective, a state can be defined as the prevailing way of being, how you are feeling in any given moment. a particular condition someone (or something) is in, at a specific point in time. States, by definition, are temporary experiences, because in the next moment you could easily have transitioned into a new state. For example: Have you ever woken up feeling a little inexplicably blue; a little sad and demoralised with low energy, only to have your emotions pivot sharply 180°, following some good news delivered by mail? Obviously your emotions can swing in the opposite direction from great to not-so-great just as effortlessly, but my point is this: all emotions are transitory, temporary and will pass in time. We are not our emotions; no, nope, not ever. We experience emotions.
OBSERVE, DON'T ABSORB
The next time you're on the cusp of exclaiming: "I'm angry!" or "I'm sad" press your inner pause button and reframe it. Intead of programming yourself into feeling more angry or sad or whatever, say to yourself: "Actually, I am [state your name] and I just happen to be feeling [state your prevailing state] in this moment, and it will pass". Then take a couple of deep breaths.
For those who have, or are currently working with me, remember to frame this in the positive, by resisting the use of negatives, e.g.: "No, I'm not angry", because the subconscious mind cannot process negation, will delete the word 'not', leaving you with a self-sabotage-y "No, I'm angry" statement.
Now, you may indeed be angry, sad, confused, afraid, whatever in the moment, but that emotion is not you, it's simply a passing feeling you're experiencing before a new one comes along, which is why it's essential you refrain from acting in the heat of the moment. FWIW, you may also find it helpful to listen to my podcast on this matter: The Greatest Trick Your Mind Ever Pulled Was To Convince You They're Real.
PRACTISE MAKES PERFECT
So here's what to do when you're feeling those emotions thundering down the mountain. Instead of saying: "I'm angry", reframe it and say: "I may be feeling angry, and that emotion is activated inside me right now, but that anger is not me and it will pass". There's a good reason our ancestors used to count to ten when agitated, it spared them from permitting their emotions to write cheques their Selves could not cash once they'd calmed down. This is why it's wise to resist making permanent choices in the heat of temporary emotions. Hasn't everyone done something they've regretted in hindsight? So practise the pause when you feel the stir of emotions taking hold, and give them time to pass.
This empowering self-talk technique can help you detach from your emotions and see them for what they really are; nothing more than transitory visitors passing through. There is zero requirement, in your service on Earth as a human being, to suit up in Angry's clothes, or to walk around in Fearful's shoes. None whatsoever, so observe your emotions, don't absorb them.
And for the record, detaching from your emotions doesn't mean replacing them, denying them, shifting away, numbing, downplaying or minimising them. Quite the contrary in fact: endeavour to acknowledge them, accept them, hold space for them and then release them. Create a mindful gap between who you are and what your visiting emotion is, in the same way as you are not chicken pox when you're recovering from chicken pox; the pox too shall pass. Once you've achieved this detachment from your emotion, you will be able to face future emotions with composure and competence, instead of surrendering control of your mind, mental health and outcomes to the transitory visitors, who are most unlikely to still be around when the time comes to deal with any unintended consequences.
I will leave you with this one last optional thought nugget: IQ = know how, EQ = know you. Exercise both, liberally.
Hope it helps, until the next time, let's make shift happen!