What are you avoiding?

When a person can’t find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure.

Viktor Frankl

What does it mean to avoid a feeling?

It means to directing your attention away from something that feels unpleasant to something that feels more pleasurable.

This goes back to the idea of wanting to feel good all of the time.

Just because something feels good, doesn’t mean that it is good for us.

And just because something feels negative or unpleasant, doesn’t mean it is bad.

When we are always seeking pleasure, we are missing out on the things we could truly desire.

Eating ice cream and chocolate feel very pleasurable, but they are not good for us long term.

We usually feel the discomfort soon after eating the thing.

Avoiding a negative feeling is only a temporary fix.

You will still feel a negative feeling, you really just get to decide what version of suffering you prefer.

Do you want to be uncomfortable in a body that is out of control, seeking pleasure from food?

Or do you want to experience the discomfort of an unanswered urge? Or boredom?

One of the main sources for avoiding how we are feeling is food.

Some might say they eat their feelings.

This is not possible.

You can only dull your feeling by eating food.

Just as an empty glass will vibrate stronger than a full glass.

Eating simply dulls the emotions you are feeling.

Not just the negative ones. The positive ones too.

By avoiding or distracting yourself from feeling your emotions, you are missing out on the full human experience.

All emotions are necessary.

Once you are willing to feel any of them, you get to take your pick.

You will still feel the discomfort, possibly even stronger.

But the positive emotions will also be stronger.

Your capacity to feel will grow.

Don’t be fooled by the temptation of instant gratification.

It is costing you more than you know.

The solution

I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord.

Isaiah 66:9

How often do you think you should experience negative emotion?

Sometimes you may think that negative emotion is “bad” and that positive emotion is “good.”

This leads to thinking that negative emotion is unwanted and must be avoided.

What if negative emotion was just as necessary as positive emotion? That we couldn’t have one without the other?

If you actually wanted to experience negative emotion?

As it turns out, you do.

You want to feel sad when a friend moves away.

Disappointed when you lose a game.

Grief when someone you love passes away.

It is also true that you want to do workouts that cause sore muscles.

Having a challenge is exciting.

Feeling negative emotion and experiencing discomfort is the price of growth.

Thinking anything else will have you avoiding anything that feels unpleasant, and will have you questioning your goals.

It will also leave you judging yourself and will increase your chances of quitting.

So what is the solution?

Get good at feeling discomfort.

Embrace it. Know that it is for your benefit and that it is useful.

All emotions are trying to tell you something.

Be curious.

The first step to allowing an emotion is to name it.

Naming an emotion begins the process of regulating it and reflecting on it.

As you are experiencing this emotion, you then need to describe it with as much detail as possible.

What is the exeperience of feeling anger?

Where in your body do you feel it? Ask yourself if it is fast or slow? Open or closed? Hard or soft? Hot or cold? Heavy or light? What color is it? Does it have a shape? How does it move from one area to another?

The more you describe it, the more it can process through your body.

Whatever feeling you are experiencing, it is always caused by a sentence in your mind.

Can you find it?

Can you be curious and accept it without judging it?

Are you willing to feel it — the tightness, the heat, the heaviness — without reacting to it?

Once you know the experience is caused by the sentence you are focusing on, you are able to decide how you want to feel.

What feeling do you want to be acting out of?

Any feeling is available at any time.

Being willing to allow all the feelings, even the uncomfortable ones, is the solution to getting anything you want.

Acting out

You are always responsible for how you ACT regardless of how you FEEL.

Anonymous

Humans are emotional creatures.

This is especially apparent in young children.

You can always tell how they are feeling because they act out all of their emotions.

When they are sad, they look the part. Bottom lip stuck out, tears streaming down their cheeks, nose running, breathing slowly.

The same is true when they are happy. You can feel their happiness because it radiates off of them.

Children are great at acting out their emotions.

They also think that everything they feel is because of someone or something else.

Humans grow up believing that they aren’t responsible for how they feel, and then act in ways they can’t seem to control.

This leads to blaming other people and other things for how you feel. Your coach. Your teammate. Your parents. Your teachers. Your opponent. The score. The weather. The time. The traffic.

You get the idea.

If you could control all of the things and people in your life, no doubt that would be the best option. But you can’t.

Becoming emotionally mature means you accept full responsibility for how you feel and for how you act.

This means, knowing whatever you are feeling is because of what you are focusing on.

It is always caused by a sentence in your brain.

Once you are aware of this, then you can choose to act in a way that will help you get the result you really want.

For example, when you are feeling mad because you are thinking your parents don’t understand you and aren’t listening, you might be tempted to yell and argue and act mad.

What you really want is to feel understood, not mad.

When you have the emotional capacity to notice that it is the thought “they don’t understand me and aren’t listening to me” that is causing the feeling of mad, then you can solve for that.

Instead of yelling and blaming your parents for you feeling mad, you can express calmly that you are feeling misunderstood and continue a conversation without reacting.

Knowing what feeling you want to be acting out of makes all the difference.

Accepting that you are the one in control by taking responsibility for your actions is the first step.

Allowing all the feelings without judgement is the next step.

Take your power back and stop blaming others for how you act.

It is totally worth it. You will be so glad you did.

The battle you never win

What you resist, persists.

C.G. Jung

There is only one battle that you are guaranteed to lose.

And that battle is the one with yourself.

When you fight against yourself, you lose every single time.

Why would you ever fight against yourself?

Usually this happens when you want to reject feeling a certain way.

Judging our feelings as “good” or “bad” is simply not useful.

When you resist a feeling, this can feel like trying to hold your door closed when someone is pushing against it trying to get in.

Or holding a beachball beneath the surface of the water in a swimming pool.

On the surface it looks calm and collected, but the longer the ball is under the water, the more pressure it builds.

Until it comes forcefully out of the water; unpredictable and out of control.

It is the same with our emotions.

When we resist feeling a certain emotion and judge it, we only give it more power. It is only a matter of time before it turns into something even more powerful and unmanageable.

This might look like feeling nervous before a game. When resisted, those nerves turn into anxiousness, which then can turn into a full on panic attack.

Or when you want to pretend something doesn’t bother you. When it really does. And then you end up blowing up or being extremely dramatic and wondering why this always happens to you.

See the problem?

You start to fear certain emotions. Not wanting to feel them. Rejecting them at all costs.

By pushing the feeling away, you are inviting it to stay. Any energy you use to fight it only increases its power.

When you are willing to feel any emotion, there is no need to resist.

Sweaty hands, tightness in your head, chest and shoulders, a sick, buzzing feeling in your stomach, quick, shallow breathing, and a racing heart beat is nothing you can’t handle.

This is what the experience of nervousness is for many of you.

It isn’t great, but it sure beats a full on panic attack.

When you are willing to feel any emotion, there is nothing you can’t do.

Realizing that all emotions are caused by thoughts we are choosing to focus on changes everything.

Once you can process an emotion all of the way through without resistance, then you are able to choose whatever feeling might be more useful in the moment.

This is only possible once you really learn the skill of allowing your feelings.

This is the work we do in Find Your Edge.

What would you do with more control over feelings?

“I’m so tired.”

Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.

Wayne Dyer

Have you ever been that athlete?

The one who comes to practice and starts off by telling everyone how tired they are?

I hope not. But if so, I’m glad you’re here reading this.

All of you feel tired–mentally, physically, or emotionally–for different reasons.

There is the physical sensation of being tired, and then there is the thought “I’m tired.”

Whatever you focus on, you only create more of.

What happens when a teammates shows up to practice and is “tired?”

They participate, but their effort and energy levels are low.

Less energy and less effort result in less than desirable outcomes.

What about when it’s the 4th quarter?

Same outcome.

Do you really want to be giving less effort and energy when it is needed the most?

I’m not saying you aren’t actually tired, but what good does focusing on it do?

Being tired is part of the human experience.

The thought “I’m tired” is only useful if you are going to take a nap or go to bed.

Any other time, it is totally useless.

Decide to take back your responsibility for how you show up.

Being tired is a choice.

You really can do anything you set your mind to when you are willing to feel any feeling. Including tired.

Focus on what you want to create more of.

You can always work hard and bring your best energy.

Show up and give value to those around you.

Most importantly, show up for yourself.

You will be glad you did.