Rate Your Pain, Win a Prize!
A dear friend of mine just went back to his wife after months of painful separation. He said, “I feel guilty about leaving an ill person.” But her illness is a mental one: she’s a hoarder and a compulsive gambler. She refuses to get help, even though her behaviors are ruining the family and his personal future happiness. They are both suffering because of failure to manage their feelings.
Addictive behaviors occur when we don’t address the emotions that drive them. Unresolved pain, grief, anger, and prolonged sadness are emotions that must be handled before they distort into life-damaging addictions.
One thing that works is to “Rate Your Pain“. Next time something unpleasant bubbles up inside of you, don’t shove it away thinking you’re being strong. Don’t reach for your drug of choice – food, substances, cigarettes, mind-numbing hours watching TV, work, excessive volunteering or whatever it is. Just follow this simple recipe for healing and you’ll be surprised how fast and how well it works.
Managing Your Emotions Effectively:
1. Go somewhere you can be alone. Worst case: the bathroom. Best case: lie down somewhere comfortable.
2. Think about how you’re feeling. Not the incident that triggers the feeling, but the feeling itself. Name the feeling – are you sad? angry? scared? guilty? lonely? something else?
3. Now rate it on a scale of 1-10. How BAD are you feeling? Maybe not compared to the worst day of your life, but compared to the average days of your life.
4. Shut your eyes. Breathe in and out a few times. Don’t judge yourself, don’t yell at yourself that you shouldn’t be responding this way, don’t give in to pushing it away with an addiction, a rash decision like my friend did, or compulsive behavior. Just breathe slowly – four or five times.
5. Rate your feeling again. Has it subsided? Has it gone completely away? If not, do steps three and four again.
The cool thing about feelings is that they are like storm clouds rolling fast across the plains. By focusing on how you are really, truly feeling, you allow your brain and body to synchronize and release that energy. The BIG prize is control over your life and emotional equilibrium again.
Depending on the issue, you may be fine for the rest of the day, or you may be back to rating your feelings in another 20 minutes. It’s not like a chore you can cross off your To-Do List forever. Rating your feelings is learning how to allow yourself to be yourself, to be in the moment, to do and feel and live what’s real for you.
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“The Top Ten Tips to Coping with Crisis”?