This is the tenth article in my series about Managing How You Feel, which aims to give you many options for influencing your emotional state.
Tip No 10 - Come up with a range of explanations
Oftentimes, we feel emotions strongly based on the way we interpret what has just happened. For example, a friend lets you down for a planned meet up - you jump to thinking they no longer like you and feel hurt, or decide they are rude and feel angry. Later, when you talk to them, you find that they actually had something come up that they needed to attend to urgently, and they regret not meeting up, and want to see you really soon. They told you as soon as they could. Maybe you even end up feeling guilty for your feelings and reaction, and that's a familiar feeling.
So, what can you do. In the moment, perhaps the first thing is to take a few deep breaths and notice how you are feeling, physically as well as emotionally. Acknowledge it. Say out loud 'I feel hurt' or 'I'm angry.' It makes a difference to make space for what you feel.
Then, ask yourself, how come I feel like this? What am I believing that triggers these feelings?
Next, come up with at least three alternative explanations for what has happened. What else could be true? The key is not to come up with something else to believe instead, its more to wobble your sense of certainty and introduce possibilities, to get you into a more curious mindset where you can think more clearly, and with less emotion find out what is actually happening.
As you do this process regularly, you will find that in time it becomes more natural, and you are less quick to react, and take more time to reflect and respond. Remembering that you don't know yet can be a powerful way of kicking off an exploration, you may even get creative and playful in coming up with explanations that while not true, make you smile!
If you would like support in building your flexibility in staying open to find out more for the benefit of your relationships and well-being, get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or leaving a message on my confidential answer machine on 0191 3720318.
Tips so far in this series:
1. Change where you are looking (up to lessen intensity, down to increase it)
3. Use your breathing
4. Pay attention to what you sense right now (what you can see, hear, feel, smell and taste)
5. Recall a memory when you had the emotional state you want now
6. Ask yourself what would someone you trust/admire say?
7. Count 3 Gratitudes each day
8. Connect with nature
9. See things from different perspectives, someone elses's, a fly on the wall...