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  • Jeff Brenneman

I don't know about this emotion thing

I’m excited this morning. I feel it in my chest. Almost like a little ball of energy there. And I feel something radiating out from there at a couple of points down my arms. I have the urge to get up and move, although I have no idea what I would do. I don’t often allow myself to really feel excitement or even really happy. And this morning I’m allowing just that. It feels a little strange, both enjoyable uncomfortable.


I notice a few thoughts bouncing around, not sticking, just kind of poking around at the edges of my experience. One is, “don’t get your hopes up because you will be disappointed.” Another is ‘excitement leads to embarrassment.’ Since I am paying attention and noticing those as thoughts, I now get to decide what kind of power they will have.

I know both of those thoughts are anchored in things that have happened in my past, when I was around 11 or 12. I am no longer 12 and I can decide what kind of power those thoughts get to have when I become aware of them in a mindful way.

See, by calling each of those things thoughts, I can either grab onto them or let them go or simply let them bounce around. Without the awareness, they most likely would have power and would shut down my feelings. I do like the excited feeling that I’m having. I do want it to hang around if it wants to.

So what I’ve been doing over the time it’s taken to write this is mindfulness of current emotion and mindfulness of current thoughts. By taking a step back to observe, we can take some control. It may sound counterintuitive, and observing and describing are the first steps in being able to make decisions that we can be happy with later on.

How often do you get derailed by a thought or two or twelve that come in automatically and take over and become your reality? Probably more often than you would like to admit. I know that’s the case for me. It’s not until we notice what is happening that we have any ability to change any of it.

And, in my experience, the process of noticing often leads to some judgment towards myself that I should have realized this earlier. That’s actually another piece of the same process, so try to step outside of that as well. Notice the tendency to judge yourself or someone else and call those thoughts also.

For me, this comes down to letting go of the judgments (extra thoughts about the situation) and choosing to feel in my body. You get to decide whether you are going to take the steps toward experiencing emotion or whether you will stay avoiding the emotion.

Come back an see us again soon!


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