Stepping out of the comfort zone
Travelling isn’t all beautiful beaches, fun parties and awesome adventures. Anytime you travel you step out of your comfort zone, away from the securities of the normal life you’re accustomed to. When this happens you’re bound to be exposed to things that are going to rock your emotional system at least a little. So far in China besides all the fun and happiness I’ve experienced I’ve also had times of intense fear, intense agitation and intense sadness.
Before coming to China I was great at dealing with mild emotions but not so good in the rare times when they were powerful. Intense fear would freeze me and intense sadness would overwhelm me. I hated this; I didn’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions, especially if they were illogical like a fear of public speaking or something. The emotions would also cause me to act in an undesirable way. If I was nervous I couldn’t perform confidently and if I was too sad… say, during a goodbye, I wouldn’t say the things I wanted to say.
While in China however I learned a method that greatly lessoned the power these emotions had over me. It doesn’t completely relieve the emotions, but it feels as if It turns there power down by about 85% and I have a feeling the more I practice this the greater the relief will be.
There’s many ways to deal with fear such as building up your courage like a muscle by exposing yourself to things that scare you just a little over a period of time… but what about emotions like anger and sadness… you definitely don’t want to expose yourself to loads of sadness overtime to numb yourself to the emotion… instead the technique I’m going to talk about applies to all negative emotions I’ve tried and works pretty much instantly in the moment.
The technique sounds really simple and your initial reaction might be to brush it off as a naïve ineffective approach that can’t possibly work… but all I can say is that in my experience it does help and it does make a big difference.
The technique is to stop what you’re doing for a moment and focus all of your attention and effort into feeling the emotion as strongly as humanly possible. Dive right into the emotion, feel it with every inch of your body, let it affect you to the core of your being. If the emotion you’re trying to relieve is fear, then try to feel the fear with everything you have, stop fighting it and just let it fill every part of you.
Don’t resist the emotion even for a second, welcome it fully, if you fight an emotion it just reinforces it, but if you accept it and feel it as strongly as possible it will begin to dissolve right before your eyes. For some reason accepting the emotion causes it to lose its hold on you. The intensity of it will immediately begin to diminish as you bring yourself into the emotion, and with enough focus it can cease to exist entirely.
Usually when I try this I’ll feel some relief within about 5 seconds, and the volume of the emotion will continue turning down slowly and steadily. If I stop feeling the emotion for a while and instead start logically thinking about the emotion or if I start resisting it again the feeling will slowly return, I have to then shift my focus back onto simply feeling it strongly again.
An important distinction to make when trying this technique out is that while feeling the emotion as strongly as possible I’m not trying to intensify the emotion, I’m simply trying to fully feel whatever’s already there. If I’m sad during a goodbye I can easily intensify it by reliving all the good times and thinking about all the memories in my mind, but this will only serve to make the emotion stronger… it’s not the same as feeling the existing emotion as strongly as possible and it will not help. This is not a logical technique done with the mind, but an emotional technique done only through feeling.
Emotions and logic are definitely not co-dependent things, so it makes sense that to control your emotions you can’t do it through thinking, but instead must do it through feeling. Resisting an emotion only gives it energy and reinforces its hold over you, but accepting it and feeling it fully begins to free you from the intensity of the emotion allowing you to continue with what you are doing without being controlled by your negative state. This technique is effective because it’s not about suppressing your emotions. It’s not about denying what you feel or shoving your feelings down into the cellar of your body and locking them away. Instead it’s about accepting them, feeling them and releasing them, in turn freeing yourself.