One simple technique is profoundly effective is a process of consciously and intentionally releasing emotions as they arise - a technique developed by Lester Levinson of the Sedona Institute. Here is a review and explanation by my good friend and long-time colleague Peter Shepherd (www.trans4mind.com)
In essence, Levinson found that people have three usual ways of handling a feeling:
- The first way is to suppress the feeling. But suppressed feelings don't go away - they build up and fester inside, causing anxiety, tension, depression, and a host of stress-related problems. The repressed energy (or 'charge') these suppressed feelings create eventually drives you to behave in ways you don't like or understand, and which you cannot control.
- The second way is to express the feeling. By 'blowing up' or losing our tempers we relieve the pressure of the accumulated emotions. This can feel good because it puts the feeling into action - but it doesn't get rid of the feeling, or the roots that create the feeling; it simply relieves the pressure of it momentarily. Negative emotions may also be unpleasant for the person on the receiving end, which in turn causes more distress and guilt.
- The third common way to cope with feelings is by attempting to avoid the issue by attending instead to distractions - by talking, watching TV, eating, smoking, drinking, taking drugs, having sex, etc. But despite our attempts to escape them, the feelings are still there - and still take their toll in the form of stress.
But there is another option for handling a feeling - you can focus on it, fully experience it, and then let go of it: release it, discharge it.
This is the healthiest way to handle a feeling that is consuming us. We've all had the experience of being in the midst of an emotional explosion and then suddenly began to laugh at ourselves, realising how silly or inappropriate or useless our behaviour is. In other words we became conscious.
Typical feelings include the following:
- Apathy and related feelings such as cold, cut-off, dead, defeated, depressed, discouraged, disillusioned, drained, futile, hopeless, lost, numb, overwhelmed, resigned, shocked, stuck, worthless, neglected, unaccepted, insignificant, lifeless, abandoned, loveless, pessimistic, rigid, stagnant, stopped, insensitive, disconnected, depressed, defeated.
- Grief and related feelings such as abandoned, abused, accused, anguished, ashamed, betrayed, blaming, cheated, embarrassed, helpless, hurt, ignored, left out, longing, loss, melancholy, misunderstood, neglected, lonely, pity, poor me, regret, rejection, remorse, sad, unhappy, melancholic, betrayed, discouraged, self-punishing.
- Fear and related feelings such as trapped, anxious, apprehensive, cowardly, devious, doubt, dread, foreboding, inhibited, insecure, jealous, guilty, nervous, panicky, scared, secretive, shaky, shy, stage-fright, suspicious, tense, trapped, withdrawn, worried, threatened, fearful, undesirable.
- Resentment and related feelings such as exploited, harassed, frustrated, deprived, hurt, embarrassed, used, abused, confused, rejected, offended, unacknowledged, disappointed, ignored, hidden hostility.
- Anger and related feelings such as aggressive, annoyed, defiant, demanding, disgusted, fierce, frustrated, furious, hatred, impatience, lack of control, mad, mean, outraged, rebellious, rude, spiteful, rigid, stern, stubborn, vengeful.
- Antagonism and related compulsive feelings such as aloof, argumentative, arrogant, boastful, clever, contemptuous, craving, critical, demanding, driven, envious, frustrated, greedy, impatient, judgmental, manipulative, lack of acceptance or approval, need to be right, lust, obsessed, pushy, vicious, violent, righteous, ruthless, selfish, self-satisfied, snobbish, spoiled, superior, unforgiving, vain; wanting desperately to have or to hurt; wanting to make another wrong.
- Indifference and related feelings such as bored, careless, cautious, conservative, forgetful, indecisive, lazy, sceptical, tired.
- Enthusiasm and related feelings such as adventurous, alert, amused, anticipating, aware, competent, confident, courageous, creative, curious, daring, decisive, desire, eager, friendly, happy, independent, interested, joyful, motivated, open, positive, proud, resourceful, self-sufficient, strong, supportive, vigorous.
- Love and related feelings such as acceptance, balance, beauty, belonging, compassion, delight, ecstasy, empathic, open, receptive, secure, understanding, wonder.
- Serenity and related feelings such as calm, centred, complete, free, fulfilled, peaceful, perfect, pure, whole.
Note: the last three are positive feelings - it is important to release on even very good feelings such as serenity, love and enthusiasm, for driving these feelings are sometimes hidden and compulsive needs and desires. When you release these good feelings you feel a physical and emotional release, just as when you release negative feelings. What lies behind the emotion is something even better, an imperturbable serenity, the Higher Self.
The Release Procedure
Step One: Locate. First think of some problem area in life - something that is of great urgency and concern. It may be a relationship with a loved one, a parent or child; it might be your job, health or fears. Or it might simply be the feeling that you are experiencing now.
Step Two: Identify your feeling. Determine your feeling about the problem area, or the current feeling. What word comes to mind? If necessary examine the previous list of feelings as a reminder. Check on the list also to determine the primary nature of the feeling - for example, if you perform your releasing operation on fear, rather than hesitance or worry, you will find the results are much more dramatic and powerful.
Step Three: Focus. What do you really feel? Open yourself up, become aware of the physical sensations attached to the feeling and focus on them.
Step Four: Feel your feeling. Deliberately create it. Let your feeling inhabit your entire body and mind. If the feeling is a grief feeling, you may break into tears; if it is anger, you may feel your blood begin to boil. That's good - now is the time to feel the feeling.
Step Five: Individuate. Become aware of the difference between your Self - YOU - and what that Self is FEELING. When the feeling is fully experienced and accepted, there will at some point be a clear sensation that your feeling is not you, so it would be possible to let go of the feeling.
If you do not feel that it is possible to let the feeling go, feel it some more. Sooner or later you will reach a point where you can truthfully answer: "Yes, I could let this feeling go".
Step Six: Learn the lesson. Spot the underlying thought, assumption, decision or intention, and how it has been driving your emotions. See now how rational it is in interpreting your current circumstances, even though it may have seemed appropriate in the past. What do you learn from this?
The most vital aspect of this process is the learning of life lessons. Unless you recognize what you are to learn from your negative emotions, they will not release permanently, because they will have to regenerate again until the lesson is learned once and for all. After all, the very nature of negative emotions is a message to you -- letting you know that something needs to be learned.
Circumstances create themselves in order to bring an opportunity into your life for the specific purpose of teaching you a valuable positive learning. When you don't recognize the situation as an opportunity to learn, another situation will be created. And it will continue to be re-created until the lesson is learned.
Step Seven: Release. When will you let this feeling go? Sooner or later you will be able to answer: "I am willing to let this feeling go now". So let the feeling go, simply release it, if you haven't done so spontaneously. It feels good to let it go - all the built-up energy that has been held in the body is released. There is a sudden decrease in physical and nervous tension. You will feel more relaxed, calm, centred.
Step Eight: Check. Do you still have any of the feeling? If some of it is still there then go through the procedure again. Often releasing is like a well - you release some and then more arises. Some of our pent-up emotions are so deep that they require a number of releases.
Once you've learned to release you'll find that simply becoming aware of a feeling is often enough to trigger a natural, spontaneous release, and you will carry the ability over into your everyday life, resulting in a stress-free mind and body.
Fixed Emotional Responses
If certain feelings never seem to go away, or if they re-emerge in specific circumstances in a way that is unwanted and apparently outside your control, then these are Fixed Emotional Responses. Actually, YOU create your emotions according to your interpretation of events, they are not directly caused by the circumstances around you or what happens to you. It is much easier to be both spontaneous and rational if such fixed responses are released. So now apply the above Release Procedure to each of the following emotions.
Use the following questions to help you detect if you have such a fixed emotional response:
"What are some things you don't really care about?"
"What doesn't really matter in your life?"
"What is never going to change anyway?"
"Is there anything you can't do anything about?"
"What don't you even bother trying to do?"
"Is there anything you just aren't made for?"
"Is there anything that is hopeless to change?"
"What do you find depressing?"
"Have you ever felt worthless?"
When you spot the emotion of Apathy, Release it.
Grief: (Handle similarly)
"What reminds you of something you've lost?"
"Think of something sad"
"What is missing in your life?"
"Anything that should be there, but isn't?"
"Do you feel abused in any way"?
"Have you felt abandoned or betrayed?"
"What makes you unhappy?"
"What are you ashamed of about yourself?"
"What do you wish you hadn't done?"
"What are you embarrassed about?"
"What about yourself are you trying to hide?"
"Who is responsible for the condition you are in?"
"Who or what do you blame for some situation?"
"What parts of your life are others responsible for?"
"What should you never have done?"
"What part of the past is haunting you?"
"What do you wish you had done?"
"Tell me some mistakes you have made"
"Who do you feel sorry for?"
"Who should you help?"
"Who can't manage by themselves?"
"What shouldn't happen?"
"What are you trying to prevent happening?"
"Is there anything threatening you?"
"Is somebody after you?"
"Is anything hidden in your life?"
"What don't you want to look at?"
"Is any part of your life scary?"
"Who do you hate?"
"Who do you think deserves to suffer?"
"What do you feel like destroying?"
"Who really drives you mad?"
"What do you think is outrageous?"
"Who are you envious of?"
"Who do you think you are superior to?"
"Who or what do you have contempt for?"
"What deserves criticism?"
"What do you find really frustrating?"
"What do you argue about?"
"What are you obsessed about?"
"What do you not agree with, but haven't said openly?"
"What don't you like about somebody else?"
"What should somebody else not have done to you?"
"Is somebody else doing things differently than you want?"
"What do you have no interest in?"
"Who do you have nothing to do with?"
"What aren't you going to bother changing?"
"What do you find boring?"
"What are you sceptical about?"
These exercises are based on the principle that what you can do consciously and deliberately you will no longer do unconsciously and compulsively.
- Consider how you 'get into' different emotions. Start with the ones you most frequently feel and find a particular recent occurrence. Go through the incident: What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel, externally and internally? Don't accept that it is something that "just happens". There will be something that either triggers the emotions (such as something that you say to yourself or think, even nonverbally) or there will be conditions that you feel are the right ones to have that emotion, and there will be specific ways that emotion is activated. Then Release that emotion, with the Procedure above.
- When you have worked through ones you frequently use, to the point where you can activate them at will, pick some that you don't often use but that other people do. Work out what would be a strategy for getting into such emotions. Then recall a time when you did have that emotion and Release it.
- Then work through the following resourceful emotional states. Recall a time when you felt:
amused, excited, daring, fascinated, stimulated, playful, committed, creative, proud, caring, appreciative, serene, trusting, peaceful, courageous, determined, glad, passionate, alluring, zestful, loving, relaxed, interested, enthusiastic, provocative, ecstatic, centred, curious, energised, intimate, nurturing, compelling, sexy, sensual, clever, flirtatious, respectful, complete, tranquil, safe, in agreement, complete, satisfied, productive, involved, sincere, determined, fortunate, respected, protected, motivated, reckless, delighted, attractive, excited, fascinated, understanding, welcome, indespensable, refreshed, responsible, adequate, receptive, amenable, encouraged, invigorated, deserving, open, optimistic, adaptable, valuable, approachable, free, fulfilled, compassionate, secure, positive, independent, competent, strong, aware, decisive.
- Then work through the following negative emotional states, Releasing each one after fully experiencing it. Recall a time when you felt:
cold, cut-off, dead, defeated, depressed, discouraged, disillusioned, drained, futile, hopeless, lost, numb, overwhelmed, resigned, shocked, stuck, worthless, neglected, unaccepted, insignificant, lifeless, abandoned, loveless, pessimistic, rigid, stagnant, stopped, insensitive, disconnected, defeated, depressed.
abandoned, abused, accused, anguished, ashamed, betrayed, blaming, cheated, embarrassed, helpless, hurt, ignored, left out, longing, loss, melancholy, misunderstood, neglected, pity, poor me, regret, rejection, remorse, sad, unhappy, melancholic, betrayed, discouraged, self-punishing.
trapped, anxious, apprehensive, cowardly, devious, doubt, dread, foreboding, inhibited, insecure, jealous, nervous, panicky, scared, secretive, shaky, shy, stage-fright, suspicious, tense, withdrawn, worried, threatened, fearful, undesirable.
exploited, harassed, frustrated, deprived, hurt, embarrassed, used, abused, confused, rejected, offended, unacknowledged, disappointed, ignored, hidden hostility.
bitter, exasperated, irate, boiling over, aggressive, furious, hysterical, annoyed, defiant, demanding, disgusted, fierce, frustrated, furious, hatred, impatience, out of control, mad, mean, outraged, rebellious, rude, spiteful, stern, stubborn, vengeful, vicious, violent.
destructive, sarcastic, cynical, critical, aloof, argumentative, arrogant, boastful, clever, contemptuous, craving, critical, demanding, driven, envious, frustrated, greedy, impatient, judgmental, manipulative, lack of acceptance or approval, need to be right, lust, obsessed, pushy, resentment, righteous, rigid, ruthless, selfish, self-satisfied, snobbish, spoiled, superior, unforgiving, vain; wanting desperately to have or to hurt; wanting to make another wrong.
bored, careless, cautious, conservative, forgetful, indecisive, lazy, sceptical, tired.
- Now practise expressing a whole range of different emotions. A simple way is to take spoken statements from any fictional book and say them with the designated emotional expression. Really act out the part as if you had been hired at great expense to play the part in a film.
- If you look at the above list of emotions you'll notice that they are arranged in a naturally occurring sequence. Starting at Indifference, the emotions descend in emotional 'tone' through Antagonism, Anger, Fear, Grief and on down to Apathy. These are all types of 'victim consciousness' with a relative absense of love. Going down in tone, one is increasingly 'at the effect' of another force or determinism, with reduction of choice.
Moving up from Indifference, the emotions rise in tone through Enthusiasm, Exhilaration, Beauty and on up to Serenity. These are all types of 'creative consciousness' based on love. Going up in tone one is increasingly the creator of one's state of being, with increasing choice. Your knowledge, responsibility and control increase for your circumstances, with a corresponding rise in communication, understanding and empathy with the people around you.
Find a time where you moved from a higher emotion down through the scale to a lower emotion, and Release the emotions as you do so.
Do this a few times, then find some incidents where you moved from a lower emotion up through the scale to a higher emotion, and Release these emotions.
Credit: the fixed emotion and emotional expression techniques are partly based on Flemming Funch's materials at World Transformation.
The Releasing procedure described above is my application of the more advanced methods taught by Sedona Training Associates. I highly recommend the courses offered by this organisation...
The Sedona Method taps your natural ability to let go of any unwanted thought or feeling on the spot. This will free you to quickly and easily have more radiant health and well being, plus break bad habits and other self-sabotaging behaviors. You will also be able to free yourself from stress, tension, panic, fear, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, procrastination, co-dependency and uncontrolled anger and grief. In short, you will enjoy living a happier, more productive, more satisfying, more loving and joyous life.
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