Being aware of your thoughts and what’s going through your head can be awful when you’re in a bad place. After all, you can’t escape your mind. It can feel like anxiety or like you’re going insane. It can also lead you to soothe your emotions in unhealthy ways, like alcohol, shopping, eating, and drugs. When we do this, we are numbing what is inside of us rather than tapping into the cause of what's going on. So we are neglecting rather than helping ourselves when we do this.
So how do you start to tune into what is going on inside of you? The first step is to slow down and breathe. Making a rash decision will not help your situation. Although it can feel scary or uncomfortable to not make an immediate decision, let yourself know that whatever happens, you will make sure you’re ok. You have your own back. Remember to keep breathing.
The second step is to ask yourself how you are feeling. Are you scared? Are you angry? Are you tired? Are you afraid someone is going to leave you? Are you thinking chaos is going to happen? When I started doing this I was so out of touch with my emotions that I had to print out a list of emotions and use that to identify what is going on inside. When I started to do that, I became aware of how I was feeling. This is the first step to soothing yourself.
If you can, name an emotion. If journaling is something you enjoy, you could start asking this question to yourself on paper. You might be surprised by where the conversation goes, especially if you’re not used to tuning into yourself. Writing things down can be a great outlet for how to get what is happening inside of you out.
The third step is to ask what you need. If you’re tired, do you need a nap? If you’re angry, do you need to scream into a pillow? If you feel like your world is crashing down, do you need to see the ways things are going to be ok? Emotions need healthy outlets to fully express and harness them. This will engage you to look for solutions and take action rather than being a victim of your feelings. You’re not comforting yourself with things like food but are comforting yourself with what you actually need.
If this doesn't work or you don't know what you need, you may also need to set a boundary. Do you need to say no to a situation or person? Sometimes when we are feeling anxious we need to set a boundary. The only way to really know is to ask yourself. You are the only person who knows what you need. So keep tuning in.
Emotions can be a scary place. Especially if you’re new to this or you tried to run from your emotions as I did. But running from them does not take care of that root cause. The only way to really get out of your head is to figure out what you need with the emotion you are feeling. To figure out what you need you must ask yourself how you feel.
Remember to start slow. Start with an emotion you feel most comfortable with. You can also make a list of what you could do when you’re not triggered. So what could you healthily soothe yourself with when you are sad? Tea, a hot shower, a run, drawing, and journaling are all great examples. This will give you a guide when you get triggered. It’s like making a plan so when you’re feeling off-center you can have a lifeboat to keep you from sinking.
Getting to the point where you feel safe in your emotions is so incredibly powerful. You are not spending so much time in your own head feeling uncertain and not knowing what to do. Your life starts to feel more balanced and easy. If you’re thinking about trying this, I highly recommend it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by it, you don’t have to stick with this forever. If this doesn’t work for you, you can always change it, but you’ll never know until you try.
If you want to get better at harnessing your mind, join the Find Freedom Facebook group here. We would love to have you in our community!
Photo credit: Chelsea Bock with Unsplash