Quick summary – are you crazy if you intentionally talk to yourself? What about all the unintentional talking (thoughts that your have automatically) in your head that happens all day? I do not remember where I learned the habit of acknowledging my emotions to myself, but I just started the practice up again… and it works great – journaling or writing a dairy has the same positive affects. For this blog post I will skip the science and simply give you some exercises to try. The idea is to say aloud what ever you are experiencing. ex. “I am feeling guilty that the waitress was offended by the way I ordered.” You can also acknowledge these feelings to another person who is available to listen.
This is the exercise –
- Simply state the emotions that you have decided to hold (guilt sadness anger etc).
- Then offer a kind reason as to why you are not going to hold that emotion (that person has anger that they were trying to have me carry… I have the freedom to respectfully decline… I will not carry that emotion it is not mine to carry).
The alternative is that your let the emotion control you which usually means that you are going to automatically react against the person who automatically reacted towards you.
Yesterday I went out to dinner with my wife and some friends. The table next to us was experiencing moments of uncomfortable silences.
I picked up on the use of the most common conversational mechanism found in times of social discomfort – criticism and critiquing.
I noticed a feeling in my body which desired to assist (as communication assistance is a strength I hold).
I then noticed a bit of self-judgment as I am personally working on reducing the amount that I pick up on other peoples’ emotions outside of conducting therapy (my empathic ability requires boundaries for the benefit of myself and my personal relationships).
Our table was having a very cheerful conversation that was flowing without much of any effort and without a need for consistent direction.
The dynamic creating a strong emotion in one of the people at the table next to us, and he very loudly critiqued the way that I conversed and the topics that we chose…
- This critique created a temporary relief to the social awkwardness at the table (as they were able to talk about something), but it was at the expense of the critiqued – myself.
Quite honestly my feelings were hurt – even though I was well aware of the conversation strategy before the personal attack occurred. (Rationalization is a defense mechanism – this is what I used first – it didn’t help much)
I noticed guilt (for being charismatic), sadness (for being judged with negative intention), anger (for unresolved or unnoticed feeling being projected onto me), and awkwardness (for having to sit next to such volatile emotional energy).
I held all of those emotions in and it was really uncomfortable.
I then released the emotions aloud to my wife as we left the restaurant…She did not choose to carry the emotions… All I did is state the feeling that I found myself holding (they were not for wither of us to carry). I was almost 100% better… why?
I released them back as the emotions were never mine to carry… I chose to pick up the negative energy… and I then chose to verbally release it.
You now when someone gets mad at you for something you did that you really were not horribly at fault for… those instances in which there was good reason for you not to know better?
Being in the ‘wrong line’ at a place you have never been before.
Putting your DOB as month day year when they asked for day month year.
Asking for pickles at a restaurant that does not serve pickles.
Ordering breakfast at a dinner that doesn’t serve breakfast…. etc.
Complimenting someone’s hat only to find that it’s not called a hat.
The emotional reaction that you get in these instances is not for you… they are obviously holding onto some unresolved issue and they are trying to offload that emotion onto you.
The best way of getting rid of the emotions that you unintentionally picked up is to acknowledge it and then follow it with a helpful suggestion such as… (say these to yourself)
- that is theirs to hold
- I can be responsible for my actions but I can’t be responsible for their emotions.
- I respect myself enough not to carry that emotion.
- I choose to let that emotion stay behind.
- I feel for that person’s pain and I will not carry that pain… that helps no one.
- I have the freedom to carry what I want and leave what I do not want.
- I offer that person the dignity to carry their own suffering.