Recently a new Facebook group popped up in my news feed. A reunion.
For many of us, milestones like reunions and birthdays can spark a whole host of memories and emotions. Luckily for those who practice People Voodoo, this is a perfect opportunity for some emotional self-reflection.
Today I’m taking things back to basics and sharing with you one of my favourite self awareness activities.
‘Getting on the fence’
You’ve probably heard the phrase, ‘to get off the fence’, meaning to take a stand on an issue, or a side in an argument.
When it comes to our emotions we can be a bit too quick to jump off the fence and take a stand on which emotions are positive or negative. Fear, guilt, shame and anger tend to attract a negative label, whereas excitement, hope, joy and love a positive one.
All emotions tell us something important about ourselves and our story. If we can consciously get back on the fence and take a more objective look at our emotional responses, we can learn a lot about, and be kinder to, ourselves and others.
Let’s take guilt for example.
We feel guilt when we have done something wrong. Or we could look at it another way. We feel guilt because we believe, or have been told, that we have done something wrong.
To feel guilty when you have done nothing wrong causes unnecessary suffering!
So who decides what is right and wrong? Do you decide the rules?
Are you sure?
For most of us, the rules about right and wrong, good and bad were put in place many, many years ago. We were introduced to them from an early age and take them as read until we come across someone who has been raised on different rules. Those of you who are parents will recognise the differences of opinion that can surface when you and your partner want to apply different rules to your children.
The next time an emotion strikes you, why not get on the emotional fence and ask yourself:
- What triggered the emotion?
- What is this emotion telling me about the rules I live by?
- Do I respect the person or people who gave me the rules?
- Do I agree with this rule?
- Am I applying a rule that is outdated or no longer serves me?
- Do I agree, looking at all the facts objectively, that this is the most appropriate response?
- When I consider what triggered this emotion, does the size of the reaction seem in proportion?
- If not, why do I feel so strongly?
- Does this rule fit with the sort of person I want to be or do I need to adapt it?
If you are unsure which side of the fence to get off on, good or bad, then why not get some feedback. The best people to ask are those who have no emotion invested in the situation; those who are already on the fence.
Some of your rules and resulting emotions will serve you well and others won’t. The ones that don’t will require some effort to change. You might not be able to switch off an emotional reaction to a rule you learned when you were 3 years old on the first attempt, but the more you practice, the easier it will become. If you practise People Voodoo just remember to acknowledge that it is all about making progress.