I recently wrote about a meltdown that I had and everything I learned from it. I dug deep to figure out why I was acting out, what my feelings were, what triggered them, and I learned how I can accept and honour my emotions in a healthier way. I got a lot of clarity! Usually in the aftermath of a meltdown it takes me a while to bounce back and feel like myself again. I call this the anxiety hangover. It’s the day(s) after I have experienced intense anxiety where positive feelings emotions still seem too far out of reach.
During this particular anxiety hangover I came across an episode of the Life School Podcast by Brooke Castillo, which included a helpful exercise that helps you shift into a positive space.
Brooke says that in order to feel better you have to decide EXACTLY how you want to feel. Our THOUGHTS often create our FEELINGS so it’s important that we try to identify the thoughts associated with the feeling we would like to create. Then we need to replace all the current negative thoughts that we are currently having with those positive thoughts.
It’s impossible to feel good emotions if you’re having negative thoughts. You’re thoughts need to match the emotion you want!
Note: It is so so important to experience your anxiety and feel all your feelings before trying to shift out of it or control your emotions. Give yourself time and space to experience whatever uncomfortable feelings come up before doing this exercise. I only move on to this step after I have fully processed my anxiety and feel ready to reach for more positive emotions. Don’t rush it. If you feel like this is making your anxiety worse or you are getting frustrated at yourself for not being able to move into a more positive space then spend some more time leaning into your anxiety. Read my post on how to feel your feelings for the process I use to do this.
- How, without a shadow of a doubt, would you like to feel? List 3 emotions or feelings that you would like to have.
- What thoughts would you be thinking if you had each of these feelings? Do 3 examples for each of the feelings you listed.
- Without being hard on yourself what are the 3 feelings you are feeling right now / or most commonly have? What thoughts do you have when you feel these emotions?
- Carefully observe your thoughts in your negative state feeling. Anytime you witness yourself having one of these thoughts take a deep breath and replace it with one of the positive thoughts instead.
- Try and recall any times where you actually experienced having the positive emotions you want. Remember it with as much detail as you can and sit with that feeling.
Example: The first time I did this exercise I was feeling anxious, worried and self-conscious but I wanted to feel confident, grounded, and fulfilled. I couldn’t be any of those things if I was listening to my inner critic saying things like “I’m awkward”, “I wish I didn’t do that”, “I’m so frustrated” etc. I started replacing each of these thoughts with a more positive one like “there is so much going well for me right now”, “I have everything I need in this moment”, “I accept myself as I am”, etc. It might feel like a stretch at first but you eventually start to believe what you are telling yourself. It takes practice. Keep at it!!
If you tried this exercise and found it helpful I would love to hear from you!