Do you sometimes find yourself holding an extreme feeling that’s unpleasant and difficult to shake off? Like anger, fear, sadness, apathy or exhaustion? A feeling that’s so strong it seems to have taken a hold of you.
The feeling and its associated thoughts play over and over like a broken record, diminishing your sense of well-being, and your health.
I like to think of these extreme feelings as the end points on a scale of opposites. So if I’m experiencing strong anger the opposite feeling at the other end of the scale might be calm. A feeling of overwhelm might have an opposite feeling of ease or relaxation.
Allowing yourself to alternately experience each end of the scale, helps shift your feeling along to a comfortable point of balance somewhere in the middle of the scale. You know you’ve found your balance point when your sense of well-being returns.
It’s rather like setting a pendulum swinging, until it finds its natural point of balance in the middle.
Keys to finding your balance point
1. Experience the unpleasant feeling
Identify an unpleasant feeling that has been plaguing you. Just for the moment, stop your natural reaction of pushing the unpleasant feeling away. Allow the exhaustion, or whatever feeling you’re experiencing to be present, and notice how it feels in your mind and your body.
2. Identify the opposite, positive feeling
Now ask yourself ‘What would be the opposite of the unpleasant feeling?’ For me the opposite of exhaustion would be to feel energised. The opposite of tension might be to feel at ease.
3. Experience the opposite feeling
Invite yourself to experience the opposite, positive feeling, as best you can. At first this may seem difficult, if not impossible, if you’re stuck at the other end of the scale. If so, invite yourself to get even the smallest sense of the positive feeling; a glimmer of light in the darkness. If you don’t get any sense of the positive feeling, don’t worry, just proceed with the next step, and it will get easier.
4. Alternate between the feelings
- Invite yourself to experience the unpleasant feeling again. Notice how it feels.
- Invite yourself to experience the opposite feeling again. Notice how it feels.
Keep alternating beween the two feelings, for as long as it takes to feel your emotions shifting from the extremes into a comfortable point of balance. As you alternate you’ll find it increasingly difficult to experience the unpleasant feeling so strongly, and soon it will disappear.
Your feelings may shift very quickly in a minute or two, or you may need to spend several minutes or several sessions alternating between the two extreme feelings. Like most techniques a little practice pays off, and you’ll soon be back in charge of your emotions!