Tracking intense emotions . . . . . .. . … . .. . . . .. . .. . .. . … .
In my last post I made this brash statement:
“Understanding how shame is affecting me, and understanding how shame began when I was young and how I continue to pass it forward to everything I do, allows me to discontinue that shaming voice within me.”
Well, that sounds nice, but HOW does one understand shame and how it began.
I would not have thought to track my emotions to their origin if it had not been suggested to me by a friend in my Healing Class at Wilderness Fusion, so since I brought it up, I am going to share the process with you.
HOW TO TRACK YOUR EMOTIONS
The next time you find yourself triggered by an event into an intense emotion, especially the negative emotions, instead of reacting, take some time, get some space away from others if you can, and allow yourself to go deep within yourself and say, “Show me when I first felt this emotion.” Surrender all thoughts and allow something to come forward. You may find yourself streaking back through time and experience. You may notice experiences flying by as you go back in time, experiences that triggered that particular emotion in you. You may come to the beginning and everything will slow down and you will be at the origin of that emotion, at the event that first created it in you. When you get to that event, examine it, feel it, relive it!
I have used this tool many times now. As I re-live the original event that created a particular emotion in me, I understand that I felt overwhelmed by the emotion, to the point of feeling out of control and afraid, along with anger, or sadness or whatever. I saw how that original feeling of helplessness and “out of control” was being brought forward instantly, along with similar emotional baggage from other events, and all in a bundle being dumped on me as I experienced a present event triggering that same emotion. The fact that I am no longer a child, and supposedly an adult who can handle things better (ha ha), didn’t stop the flood of emotion which could throw me into a depression, or feeling frustrated and helpless, or at least throwing me into a bit of a funk.
These events have been described by one of my teachers as a string of pearls. Each pearl being an event along a timeline. As I fly by these pearls on my way to the original event, I find that in the awareness of each event the baggage is staying with the event and being dispersed along the time line. When I am done with this exercise, the current event, the one that triggered the emotion in the NOW, is left with only the appropriate amount of emotion due it; not the whole bundle, gathered from the timeline.
If you want, you could slow down the movement of the tool by asking a different question: “When was the last time I felt this emotion?” Surrender all thought. An event will emerge. Notice it with gratitude, then ask, “When else did I feel it?” Notice it, and ask, “When else?” Continue doing this and eventually you will get the origin of that emotion. At any time, during this slower process, you could pick up the speed and ask, “When was the first time I felt it?” and fly through time to the origin.
This is one of those tools that, when first given to me, I couldn’t see how well it would work, or that it would work at all. I’ve learned to trust my teachers and my classmates though, and I experiment with the tools I am given. I am always amazed at what happens.
So Where Does Shame Fit In?
What I realized, as I relived those first experiences that brought on my extreme emotions, was that those feelings of being out of control I had as a child made me feel helpless, small, confused, afraid, and even outraged. Those feelings created a feeling of being less than capable of handling what was going on. I was a small child, and sometimes even an infant, and of course I was not in a position to handle or even understand my world yet. As I looked for how these early experiences contributed to shame, and disconnection, I found that I did feel shame because I didn’t understand. The shame was deeply buried, and intellectually it may not make sense, but the shame was there, and it may be the first time I ever felt it. What is interesting, too, is that in my earliest experience with shame, no one told me I was less than, no one shamed me, but I felt, in my helplessness, like I was not enough. That feeling of “not enough” is a basis for shame.
I do not know how well this tool will work for you, whether you will have a similar experience or not, but perhaps you, like me, at least have a new tool to play with and learn from.
Dare Greatly everyone!
Karl Direske’s Wilderness Fusion healing classes
Brene Brown’s book “Daring Greatly”