Karen Peabody, LICSW
5 Steps to Change Your Emotions
Understand how powerful your brain and your body are.
We are the most magnificent computer ever built. You have the answers to heal yourself and these answers are entirely unique to you, but you need to understand your mind/body connection first.
Stop fighting against your feelings.
If there is something triggered in you, it can help determine clues for how you need to proceed.
Do you frequently feel anger?
Do you frequently feel fearful?
Are you constantly worried?
These are triggered responses to an event that has been embedded in your psyche to protect yourself. However, this emotion tends to become an immediate response when anything happens in your life. To start to change this pattern try to meet the feeling with the opposite emotion.
Be curious about anger...
Embrace support when fearful…
Conjure up a time when you felt powerful when worry kicks in…
These are building neural pathways in your brain that are making shortcuts to stable secure feelings. This takes a lot of practice. This is an opportunity to work on experiencing your emotions as if you were a 3rd party. If you are used to experiencing road rage, no more slamming your hands on your steering wheel. You can feel your feels, but not physically react and then move into empathy, perhaps something was happening with that person that cut you off. Maybe it takes you 2 hours to get to this conclusion. Keep your focus on trying to connect empathy with this incident. This takes practice.
Take time to breathe.
Sit quietly, upright in a comfortable chair with your feet on the floor. Have your arms by your side. Start to breathe deeply, slow and steady. You can even count these breaths very slowly. Allow yourself to release tension from the top of your head moving now your forehead, eyes, temples, mouth, chin, tongue, jaw, neck, shoulders, chest, arms, lower back, legs, feet. Continue to breathe, counting each breath. Start to imagine bringing heat to your hands, feeling the temperature change, tingling, coming from the palm of your hand, or your fingers moving in. Notice the changes and experience the sensation. Allow yourself to relax in this experience. Practice this two times a day.
This experience shows you how powerful your brain is. The thought you created in your head changed how your body feels. Think about that!
Think about something that makes you worry. Something in the moment, that is negatively affecting you. Pause, close your eyes and smile. Keep smiling, keep going, hold it for 2 minutes. Continue to breathe deeply, smiling the whole time. Try to switch back and think about what was worrying you. Difficult to hold on to the thought? Yes, smiling uses different muscles and neural pathways that do not allow you to focus on worry. Practice this two times a day.
Engage peripheral vision.
Same as smiling. It is impossible to stay with a thought that produces anxiety and worry while actively engaging peripheral vision. Find a spot in front of your eyes to focus on. Allow your focus to be here for 7-10 seconds and then without moving your head, find a spot 90 degrees to focus on. Give yourself 15 to 20 seconds in this exercise. Your anxiety will reduce just by focusing on this activity.
These activities are meant to weaken the connections we have built that make us react in the same ways. If you frequently get angry in traffic, can't walk into a room without a complete anxiety attack, get nervous before a conference call, now is the time to try all of these tips. Start making your brain and your body healthier!
Karen Peabody, LICSW is a therapist and business consultant for social workers and therapists interested in starting their private practice. She founded Forgewell Solutions in East Bridgewater, MA. Her office is a great place to start a private practice. Visit her FOR THERAPISTS page to learn more.