Do you know how you feel?
I was reading something from Marty Lefkoe the other day. It was a game that he was inviting his followers to play. (Marty works with people on eliminating their limiting beliefs and has a blog that I try to follow. http://www.mortylefkoe.com/) Anyway, the first step in the game is to notice all of your negative feelings, all day long, for seven days. I decided to try it out… and I’ll tell you, I was pleasantly surprised. You see… I had played a similar game a couple years ago when I was working on noticing and accepting my thoughts… and it was horrifying. I was shocked at how negative I was throughout the day – how many times I put myself down in a day, or doubted my abilities. Well this time around, it wasn’t quite as shocking. I had fewer negative thoughts and wasn’t nearly as hard on myself as in the past.
How’d that happen?
Well, I think a big part of it was just the act of noticing the negative feelings in the first place. The fact that I was so unaware of how negative my thoughts were made me realize I wasn’t paying very much (conscious) attention to the thoughts I was having every day. As I began to notice myself having a negative thought, I would accept it… “I’m feeling really angry at myself – and that’s ok,” or “I’m feeling very judgemental and that’s ok.” That doesn’t mean I gave myself permission to be rude or hurtful, I just allowed myself to accept the fact that I’m a normal human being who has all of these gamut of emotions from second to second on a daily basis. And it’s ok. I also started to notice that, as I accepted the feelings, I was able to release them more easily. It also made me more aware of my own ability to choose a different thought in that moment. I could actually focus on something else and move on without getting bogged up in anger, self-judgement, or anything else that was waiting to sabotage my day.
That past experience makes me like Marty’s game even more. He takes you to the next level by asking you, after you’ve noticed your negative thought, to ask yourself what meaning you gave to the event that produced the negative thought. In case you’re wondering, he’s implying that it’s not the experience itself, but the meaning that you attach to the event that produces the negative feeling for yourself. Huh?
Let me give you an example. Last year, the kids and I would struggle every single morning to get to school on time. I would end up yelling at them to get ready and they would rebel and yell back… it was not fun for anyone and usually made me feel like I’d done a full day’s work before I’d even left the house. Now… what events were causing the negative feelings? The kids would get up slowly and need several reminders to get ready. They would get distracted and do other things instead of dressing, eating and packing up their backpacks. Flash forward to this morning. Both kids woke up late and struggled to get moving. My son got back in bed three times before he finally started getting dressed. My daughter just didn’t bother to get out of bed at all! I took a few deep breaths and decided to relax into the morning. I reminded myself that it wasn’t going to kill anyone if we were a few minutes late. I helped my kids get ready and pack up their stuff. I let go of the need to be in control. And more impressively, I didn’t even raise my voice. It was such a better experience for all of us. And… the clincher is, we made it before the bell rang with about 30 seconds to spare!
The same preceding circumstances in both scenarios. The difference was in what I decided to tell myself about the events – “This is not acceptable and will make us look like tardy slackers,” vs. “This is normal and many people struggle to get out the door in the morning. This isn’t worth getting worked up over.”
This week’s question to ponder is… where are you getting worked up? How might you shift into a place of acceptance? What would it look like if you let go of the meaning and focused on the moment?
If you’re interested in learning more about Marty Lefkoe’s game, check out his blog. http://www.mortylefkoe.com/lets-play-game-dissolve/
Here’s a summary of the game:
- Notice all negative feelings, all day long, for seven days.
- Ask yourself what meaning you gave something that just happened that produced the feeling you are having.
- Make a clear distinction between the event in the world and the meaning you gave the event, which exists only in your mind.
- When you make a clear distinction, the meaning dissolves, along with any feelings that had been caused by the meaning.
- Imagine yourself a few years in the future looking back at the event and describe in detail how that event led to so many wonderful things.