Hello Lyssa here. I want to first say thank you so much for all the feedback on the first blog that I did, The Five Books that will Blow Your Mind. I just really appreciate all the positive feedback on that. So thank you for that. Today I’d like to talk about how to use your emotions as a roadmap to life.
Emotions are Like Road Signs
Let’s think about emotions like road signs. When you’re driving on the road. Is there a particular sign that’s a bad sign? I mean, we have a lot of signs. We have pedestrian crossing signs, we have stop signs, and yield to oncoming traffic. We may even have something besides speed limits, that we don’t like necessarily, like photo enforced intersection ahead. Some of these signs we don’t love, but which one is the bad sign, right? None of them are the bad sign because what they’re doing is they’re just telling you something. And that’s the segue into the next part of this.
Happy. Neutral. Negative.
I’m going to look at three categories of emotions. They’re very broad, so understand that everything’s on the spectrum. But the three categories that we tend to either like, not notice, or dislike, are happy, neutral, and negative. Happy emotions we like. If we could go through life feeling happy, we would. We just enjoy that. Right? We enjoy spending time with our friends, laughing, having a great conversation, talking about things that we’re interested in. All these things can bring joy to our worlds. And, we often don’t pay that much attention to the fact that, there we are really enjoying ourselves. We just do.
Then there are neutral emotions. These can be things like boredom, disconnected in just not really having a lot of energy or motivation. We can be really kind of flatlined emotionally also. And it’s not high or low. It’s just sort of a flat line and those emotions tell us something also, we often don’t even recognize when we’re here. Dissatisfaction comes up often in this neutral sort of spectrum.
Then there are the negative emotions that we might feel where your head pops off because you’re so angry. Or you’re in a very heavy, dark, depressed sort of place, that being on an extreme spectrum of depression. Maybe you’re just sort of spinning around in circles because you’re so worried about something or you’re just having some anxiety. And what tends to happen with these negative emotions is we don’t enjoy them, so we do all sorts of stuff to try and stop ourselves from feeling them.
I would, I would say this probably accounts for a lot of retail therapy. Maybe having too much wine, having maybe just watching too much television, playing too many games, spending too much time on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram. We think of them as ways to decompress and yet we’re often using these different things as a way to self soothe the negative emotions that might be showing up in our world that we don’t want to take a look at.
Cadillac and the Vespa
Let me tell you the story of the Cadillac and the Vespa. This happened to me several years ago. I was driving to work and I was in my own lane, minding my own business, when up next to me drives Vespa and right hot on his tail was a big Cadillac Escalade. I didn’t really pay that much attention immediately, but my husband rides motorcycles and so I’m very motorcycle aware. I notice as we’re driving down the road, we’re all going the speed limit. The Cadillac Escalade is riding so close up behind the Vespa that I’m starting to freak out now. They’re not seeming to have the same problem that I’m having.
But as I’m sitting in my car I noticed there’s a little racket going on inside my head and I’m starting to feel really angry. And I don’t really process it too much while I’m in the car, but I just noticed that I’m feeling really angry. The thoughts that are spinning through my head are things like, “That is so dangerous.” “That is so disrespectful.” “I can’t believe people treat other people this way.”
I know, you can probably think of all the things that you think when you’re driving down the road and you see something that you’re like, what? I don’t get it. Like what the heck?
So fast forward, I drive to my office. And I get of the office and I’m still just, I am still very vexed by this whole experience that I’ve just had. So, I lay down on the floor and I start breathing to try and calm myself down. And I’m thinking to myself like, what the heck just happened to me? You are not at the mercy of your emotions.
Because they were not having a problem; the Vespa and the Cadillac. If they noticed each other, I couldn’t tell. And the Vespa didn’t seem concerned about the Cadillac and a Cadillac didn’t run over the Vespa. But it was clearly triggering something in me. When I started to unpack my anger and find out what was going on inside my own mind; what I found was there was some underlying baggage that was getting triggered. For me, especially going back to what I said earlier, that is so dangerous, that is so disrespectful. The disrespect piece was really important to what was underlying my emotional reaction to this experience that I had just had.
I laid there on the ground breathing and looking at where are places in my own life, that actually involve me where I’m struggling with this sense of feeling disrespected? And I was able to kind of point out a few different areas. There weren’t a ton, but there were a couple that were very pivotal areas. Where I noticed that I had boundaries that I had said no to something and my boundaries were being crossed. I was either being… Rather, I felt like I was being guilted into doing something that I didn’t really want to do. Or I felt like I had been very clear with my “No” and it was being ignored.
And, here’s the thing. I absolutely believe that our level of frustration is often linked very closely to the degree that we allow people to step over our boundaries. I think there is a very much connected… Connection between our boundaries and them being stepped over, ignored, bypassed, brushed away and our level of frustration; all the way up to rage. And so I was able, because I was willing to get curious, because I was willing to sit there, and breathe into these emotions. I was able to start to explore what were these areas that I needed to pay attention to.
And it was a doorway into greater awareness. A deepening of understanding. And also a place where I could start to create a plan so that I might be very different in response to what was going on. I could be a bit more clear about what I was, and was not willing to do. And make sure that there was clarity. That these weren’t unspoken expectations that I had. But that I was being crystal, about where my boundaries were. Not only with other people but with myself.
Because here’s the deal. Anybody can ask you anything and you have the right to say “No.” If you choose not to say “No” that is you tip toeing over your own boundary. And you need to take a look at that because that leads to just as much frustration as when people step over our boundaries, that we think we’re being really firm about
A further sign of health is that we don’t become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it’s time to stop struggling and look directly at what’s threatening us. Pema Chodron.
I want to talk a little bit about what some of the underlying emotions can be. Underlying emotions can often show up as I don’t feel respected or I don’t feel appreciated or I don’t feel like I’m good enough. So confidence issues show up. I mentioned boundaries already. If we have values that are really important to us, if we’re not honoring those values, we can feel these underlying emotions bubbling to the surface. And so when we unpack our emotions, we might find that there are values that we’re not honoring. Or dreams that we aren’t honoring.
I was talking to somebody just recently and I asked how they were doing and they said, you know, I’m feeling just very dissatisfied and unmotivated. When we unpacked that a bit, there was this big juicy dream that as she started talking about this dream, her whole persona opened up completely.
The conversation started with her almost being in tears, as she was talking about this dissatisfaction. After I had asked her what wasn’t going; you know, what was happening, that she was feeling so dissatisfied. As she started talking about this unhonored dream, that shifted her entire energetic presence in the conversation, as she started thinking about it. And it was only through that exploration, that she could actually start to think about, like okay, “Here are some tangible things I might actually do to move myself forward towards my dream again.”
Dreams are so important and we often overlook them because we’re so busy and we just don’t have time and we’re not good enough anyway. And all the other, you know, gremlins that get riled up and spinning around inside our heads.
What I often offer people as a way to start to explore and notice your emotions is to maybe view them at a distance. You know, we talk about birds-eye perspective. Sometimes I recommend to clients, look as if you were looking at this emotion on a television screen or on a movie screen or from 20 floors up, looking down on it. So that what we started to do is get some distance and with the distance we often get clarity. And at that point, we can start to unpack what might be below the emotion that showing up for you.
I highly, highly recommend: instead of drinking that glass of wine, opening up your Facebook, and multitasking with your game of Words with Friends; which I have been known to do a couple of times in my life. Take a breath, breathe into it, and allow your own internal wisdom to help you unpack a little bit about what might be going on so that you can then choose a new path forward.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this Vlog. If you did like it, I got a bunch of comments that were sent to me through email, text message and Facebook IM’ing. I mean in all kinds of different ways. Write in the comments section below. I would love to have the conversations on the blog. Also sharing is caring. So please feel free to share this Vlog with your friends. And anybody else you think this information might be useful for. Cheers, have a wonderful day.
I would LOVE to hear from YOU!
- What is one emotion that you try to avoid?
- What did you learn, when you allowed yourself to get curious about it?