There is an old joke about a man who is walking home along the street in the early hours of a weekend and he sees another man, who is obviously very drunk, on his hands and knees, searching for something. “What are you looking for?” he asks the drunked man. “My house keys” the man replies. “Where did you drop them?” he asks. “Two streets away” he slurs. “Why aren’t you looking there then”, he asks, puzzled. “Because the light’s much better here.”
Now, during my initial training and learning, I was quite unsure about myself in many ways! Yes, even me, some may say that I have gone rather extremely the other direction now! I tried lots of the things I learned with self-hypnosis and different aspects of the standard NLP approaches to overcome this uncertainty and lack of confidence in my ability to do what I wanted to do, but none of them seemed to work for me. I still got the butterflies in my tummy and lacked a real sense of confidence, in fact I felt nervous about doing what I wanted to do (what if it all went wrong and I failed!!). I had spent some time fighting the anxious feeling, then one day I said to myself “Adam, just experience it, stop resisting it, stop fighting it; just feel it” and an amazing thing happened. I felt the nervous feeling, then it disappeared! I was shocked. All those previous months and years of fighting it, and all that I really needed to do was to feel it. I acknowledged it and stopped resisting.
Doing this is to heighten your own awareness of your own map of the world.
One of the presuppositions of NLP is ‘meet people at their map of the world’. This is a process of seeing things from their point of view or being aware of their experience and is a far depper discussion for another time. Now, I was fine at doing this with other people and my successful therapeutic consultancy is over the years has been solid proof to me of that, but before all that started, all those years ago, I suddenly realised that I had not been meeting myself at my map of the world. Whenever I felt feelings that I did not like, I would struggle, resist and fight them, and you know what they say: When you fight with yourself, someone always loses, and that someone is you. So I decided to stop fighting and resisting my feelings and instead to acknowledge them and start working with them.
WHere am I going with all this then? If there is a feeling that you find unpleasant or that seems unhelpful or that you just plain don’t like, firstly, map out the feeling. This is just a process of identifying where in your body that feeling is, really locate that feeling in your body. Now think about what size it is, how it moves; I used to have a fluttering feeling in the pit of my tummy that as I reisted it more would spread into my chest and back down again. Really be aware of the feeling physiologically, even think about what temperature it is, you can even take it a step further and think about what colour it would be if it had one etc.
While most people profess to know what they are feeling, you would be amazed at how many people have not got in the slightest bit acquainted with the physical characteristics of the emotions they are experiencing, they just let them happen passively without really getting an awareness of them. Emotions are physical (they are chemicals and all sorts of other things too), so the first step is to map out that physicality.
Next up, accept the feeling. Become OK with the fact that you are feeling it. For more on how to accept things in your life, again, dig out the article from a previous edition of “Adam Up” that was all about that, it is there in the archive on my website.
Of course, this can be a bit of a struggle for some people, who will no doubt say “But I don’t want to feel it” or “I shouldn’t be feeling it.” I know some of you are thinking that.
So here is the thing: you are feeling it, and if you want to change the feelings quickly, the most expedient way to do it is to meet yourself at your map of the world and accept that presenting feeling that you are having. If you refuse to do this, then you are just resisting it or fighting it as I was doing back then. Then any attempt to change it will involve starting from where you aren’t, and that rarely works out well (as our tipsy man looking for his keys on the wrong street can attest to.)
Then, you find the positive intent. What is your body or your unconscious trying to tell you? Sometimes feelings have a message of some sort for us. Other times, they’re just sensations that our body has some purpose for feeling. What (if anything) is this feeling doing for you or trying to tell you?
Then; feel it. Just feel it. Be sure not to struggle or fight, just feel it. Remember to breathe too 😉
You don’t have to do this for long, but it is really good to feel something. Even if it feels bad, the fact that you can feel it means that you are alive (woo-hoo!) and it also means that you are in touch with how you feel. These are both good things to be able to acknowledge and realise within yourself. Often, just accepting and realising a feeling is putting it in a vast different perspective.
The final part of this process is to then play with the feeling.
Increase the feeling’s intensity. The reduce it. If it was one colour, make it another, if it was moving in a certain direction, move it in another, if it was a certain size, enlarge it or make it smaller, basically, have a play with it and discover just how much influence you have over this feeling. I think you will be surprised when you realise just how much influcence you really do have.
One of the things you’ll begin to find as you start to experience is just how much it’s possible for you to get a handle on your feelings. You may well discover for yourself that feelings aren’t true or false. They don’t really mean anything. They are just sensations that you are experiencing in your body. If you resist them, they’ll be there for some time, but if you accept them, you can start to play with them and change them. Does this mean you’ll not have a bad feeling ever again? No. Feelings will come and feelings will go, but what it does mean is that you can start to have more and more of the sorts of feelings you want to have. I know that whatever you are wanting to do in life, you’ll be wanting to punctuate your life with more and more good feelings, am I right?
So, enjoy your day today and make sure that you are spreading some good feelings into your life.
By Adam Eason
“Anger Management Institute of Texas is a certified Anderson & Anderson provider.”
Gregory A. Kyles, M.A., LPC, CEAP, CAMF
Director, Anger Management Institute of Texas
Diplomate, President of Texas Chapter
American Association of Anger Management Providers