We all know stress and unhappiness can be incredibly confusing to try to manage, let alone understand. But there’s good news: You don’t have to set up camp or stay stuck in those intense emotions. In fact, those confusingly nebulous feelings are chock-full of information you need in order to begin living a life that’s truly your own. Curious how to start? Let’s dive in.
Step 1: Tune into Your Body
Stress and unhappiness can be quite elusive and opaque. They often serve as our body’s way to catch our attention and drive it towards the real problems we may have been unknowingly (or otherwise!) avoiding. How can we start to nail down the root causes of these indistinct feelings?
Tune into your body and pay attention to the physical sensations that show up when you’re stressed or feeling the rise of unhappiness. Are your shoulders screaming for a massage? Is your stomach doing somersaults? Jot down your observations; they’re gold mines of information.
Step 2: Observe, Don’t Change
It’s tempting to want to ‘fix’ those uncomfortable sensations that come with unhappiness and stress. But do your best to resist the urge to play fixer-upper with your sensations. Here’s the scoop: those bodily signals hold the key to understanding the “why” and “how to make it better” of your emotional turmoil. Set a timer, focus on the sensations, and observe their dance without judgment. Notice any and all characteristics that show up when you do so. Here’s a list to get you curious:
- How much space does the sensation take up in your body? What size is it?
- Is it still, or does it move around a bit?
- What happens when you breathe; does your breath make the sensation worse, stay the same, or lessen?
Step 3: Embrace a Truth Bomb
Ready for a mind-blowing revelation? Your feelings are not your enemies! Nope, not even close. In fact, they’re your loyal protectors, defending you from past hurts and potential, upcoming pain. This idea can be difficult to grapple with, especially if you’ve spent a long time trying to understand why difficult emotions (like stress and unhappiness!) are trying to wreck your life. Start small by challenging yourself to look at stress and unhappiness as protectors, and see how your view of them changes.
Step 4: Ponder the Big Question
At this point in the game, you’ve followed all the steps and you’re ready to unravel the mystery. Ask yourself the question:
“What is this stress/unhappiness trying to help me with?”
“What is this stress/unhappiness trying to protect me from by showing up in this situation?”
Do your best to keep an open mind while asking these questions. From a place of non-judgement, you’ll receive your most clear answers because doing so is like having a heart-to-heart with your emotions. The answers might astonish you, so jot down what shows up.
You Don’t Have to Go It Alone
Remember, dear adventurer, understanding stress and unhappiness is all about embracing the wisdom of your internal world. So, let your emotions be your guides as you navigate the rollercoaster of life. And if you get stuck along the way, support is never too far out of reach. Happy exploring! 🚀