In the movie The Toy Story, Mr. Potato Head was going on a mission. Mrs. Potato Head was getting him ready and before he left she made sure he had his angry eyes. That line is a running joke in our family. We say it to each other to bring us back to center on a day that might be especially challenging. It is a term of endearment. It's our way of saying "I feel your pain and I'm rooting for you today- you've got everything you need to get through this". It also serves as a reminder to be aware of how we are seeing the situation and to choose the best lens in the heat of the moment. We have options.
I lead a Stress Buster group where we work on, yes, stress! The focus is on mindfulness. Through mindfulness and hypnosis, we are getting in touch with our bodies and emotions. Once we build this awareness, we will begin to craft more serving thought patterns. How we see the world drives our thoughts which in turn drives our emotional state. Today we talked about the kinds of glasses we choose to wear.
The lens we choose to view a situation (and the world) affects our approach to it and the outcome. We shared our go-to picks and whether those choices serve or hinder our well being. Do we mostly pull out our angry eyes? Maybe our guilt glasses? How about our love lenses? Sometimes we use our "Boss glasses" or our "Mommy glasses"...each situation could have many options. The cool thing is that it doesn't have to be a knee-jerk reaction. Through mindfulness, we can purposefully choose our filter and that shift radically improves our emotional state.
With this tool of mindfulness, we are not trying to change our emotions or force outcomes. The first step is to build awareness of what is. The current state of affairs. There is no struggle in awareness. There is nothing to turn away from or push deep down inside. Things are the way they are right now. Awareness and acceptance naturally lead to change.
The example for today was our experience of anger. When we feel mad, we allow that- for the time being. The breath becomes a tool to bring us back to center. When we feel and think from a centered space, we begin to make a less emotional assessment of what is happening. We can more logically note: "I've got my angry eyes on. THIS is what anger feels like." Or, "This is what anger feels like in my body". No judgment or pushing it away. It is anger for now.
By allowing the emotion instead of rushing to change it, we can start to get curious and begin to ask questions. If we are not trying to DO anything, push anything away, it creates a pause. In that space, logic can get a grab and send us a 2nd or 3rd thought about the realities of the situation and how we are buying into it. Now, instead of being drawn deeper into the anger, we can ask out why it came up, guns blazing. We can look for the real trigger point and slowly but surely figure out how to resolve the problem at its root. When we take the time to go to the source of the anger and work it out there, it is much slower to rise and less intense when it returns.
And we all know it will return, right? Who are we kidding?!?!? Everything comes and goes in a cycle. Our breath, the rotation of the earth, life and death...nothing is permanent. This cycle is to our benefit, especially with the strongly felt lower emotions of anger, fear, guilt, and shame. We know they won't be around forever and that makes them more tolerable in the moment. Objectively, emotions and feelings are harmless. They can't DO any harm or inflict wounds or break bones. Lower vibrational emotions may feel bad to us at the time but they won't kill us. Imagine them as a wave on the ocean. A wave that slowly gathers energy, rises up, crests, and then collapses. When we ride the wave of emotion from start to finish, we experience it for a much shorter time than if we resist that process. What we resist persists.
In our Stress Buster group, our primary goal is to lessen the frequency and intensity of our tougher emotions. One tool we use is to understand that the harder emotions are just as much a part of our life experience as joy, love, and gratitude. When we put on the lens of acceptance, it makes it easier to sit with all emotions because we know they will pass. As they move through us, we feel more empowered, calmer, less stressed, and more vibrant. We begin to look at situations differently, more creatively. These new perspectives lead to higher vibrational emotions. Approaching our lives wearing those glasses reveals a world of love, compassion, and openness.
As you head out to start your day tomorrow, do a cross-check to see which glasses you are choosing. You may want to make an adjustment before you get in the car and buckle the seatbelt. With the right lens, aggressive driving could be in your rearview mirror. Feelings of road rage might be a little softer around the edges. Awareness and acceptance can soften the edges of your heart, too. What a great way to start the day!