What To Do With Intense Clusters Of Emotion
Sometimes we experience really intense, undesirable states (thoughts and feelings) that do not serve us even if there is an understandable reason for them. Our fight or flight emotions (fear, anger, guilt, grief, jealousy, envy) do not always allow us to think, respond, or behave in beneficial or effective ways.
The purpose of this exercise is to help you unravel those emotions while building your own natural chill pill. It will help you shift gears, so to speak. Give it a try and see how it helps you to transition out of distressing emotions and into more preferable feelings that allow you to think more clearly.
It requires a few steps and results you can achieve are absolutely worth the effort. By doing this exercise, you will be building neural pathway connections between different feelings. It’s like climbing up or down a ladder. You could use this exercise to work yourself up to feeling better or walk yourself down from an unresourceful feeling.
While this exercise can be done through pure visualization, to get the most out of it, I recommend practicing it with your whole body - moving in the space around you as much as you can to effectively teach your mind how to transition from one feeling to another. Taking the time to practice it using movement and your whole body will make it easier to get the same benefits when you can’t move in the space around you, when you can only do the exercise mentally using an imaginary step ladder or stone pathway.
If walking isn’t an option for you, be sure to engage as much of your physicality as possible as you meditate on each different feeling - using distinct patterns of your breathing, body language, and speaking out loud, if you can, in ways unique to each emotion you move through.
The more you practice this exercise, the easier it will be to move through the emotions whenever you need to, whether you take steps in your imagination or the space you have around you.
The example used below will show you how to deescalate from an unwanted intense feeling. It’s easy to use the exercise to work out of an unwanted low energy, kind of feeling and up to a more positive high energy feeling if you’d like to. It may be easier to visualize walking on a path of stepping stones rather than on an actual ladder…the point of the exercise is to build neural pathways between different emotional states so use whatever visual helps.
1. First, use an area of space where you can freely move, one where you can walk up 10 - 20 feet in front of you. Enough to walk on 10 imaginary stones, though you may only need five depending on how intense the emotion is.
2. Imagine there is a path of stepping stones in front of you and you’re standing on the first stone. Associate into the undesirable state or feeling(s). Recall, imagine, or intensify this feeling, or these feelings, on purpose to really feel it.
3. Identify the peak intense negative emotion you’ve been experiencing. A single emotion should come to mind. The imaginary stone you are currently standing on will now have this emotion written or sculpted into it.
✦ Let’s use RAGE as an example. Recognize what are the thoughts, the words you hear yourself say the most?
✦ What are the images that come to mind when you feel this feeling?
✦ Recognize your physicality, the way you breathe and hold your body when you are feeling this feeling at its height.
✦ Take 3 - 5 deep breaths all while allowing the feelings to be as intense as possible to really capture the feeling, thoughts and physicality of the emotion. You can say or think things that allow you to really feel the feeling.
Now take a step a step forward onto the next imaginary step and get clear on naming the next emotion closest to your original feeling but distinct enough that it has a different name. In this example, it will be a feeling that is less intense — a step down so to speak. Imagine the name of this next feeling on this stone.
Repeat the directions for the previous step, taking 3 - 5 deep breaths to really anchor the feeling to this stone. Continue this process until you get to your desired feeling on the last step/stone.
Using RAGE as an example, the countdown might look something like this:
✦ 9. — DISDAIN
✦ 8. — EXASPERATION
✦ 7. — ANGER
✦ 6. — DISMAYED
✦ 5. — DUMBFOUNDED
✦ 4. — FRUSTRATION
✦ 3. — ANNOYED
✦ 2. — INDIFFERENT
✦ 1. — CALM
4. Now move up and down this imaginary set of steps at least three times, recalling as best as you can what thoughts, images, breathing patterns and postures for each of these feelings when you are connected to them as intensely as possible. You can purposefully bring things to mind using your memory and imagination to help you do this if you need to. Remember to pair each feeling with the same thought, image, posture and way of breathing when you practice Step Four.
5. Doing this exercise just once could be a help to you or you could practice meditating on each of these feelings, purposefully moving from one to the next, periodically such as once daily or weekly, until you’ve gotten really used to moving through the feelings quickly. Recall this “emotional ladder” next time you're peaked to take your natural chill pill.
“How you can sit there, calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble, I can’t make out. You seem to me to be perfectly heartless."
"Well, I can’t eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them."
"I say it’s perfectly heartless your eating muffins at all, under the circumstances.”
― Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
More Information on Anchoring
Anchoring is reminiscent of Pavlov's experiments with dogs. Pavlov sounded a bell as the animal was given food. The animals salivated when they saw the food. After some pairings of the bell and the food, the bell alone elicited salivation.
Anchors are stimuli that call forth states of mind — thoughts and feelings. Some anchors are involuntary. The smell cinnamon may remind you of Christmas. A song may remind you of an old friend. A simple touch can bring back memories of the past. These are examples of anchors that work automatically. The kind that happen in everyday life, sometimes easy to recognize and at other times, harder to connect the dots as to what the trigger or the conjured response may actually be.
In Neuro-Linguistic Programming, anchors are purposefully set to be able to recall desired states or collapse unwanted states (after capturing them and then screwing with them until they can’t be felt the the same way again). Setting an anchor means producing the stimuli (the anchor) when the desired state is experienced so it can fire off the same state in your mind and body. For example, touching a knuckle of your right hand when a resourceful state, like a feeling of confidence, is experienced to build up and recall that state on purpose.
Let me know what you think of this post. Make a comment or contact me if you have any questions you'd like me to answer. If you found this information to be helpful, go ahead and share it on social media or with a friend who could use it.