As we begin the third installment of our "Wellbeing Tools for Change Makers" series, it’s probably a good idea to actually look at the definition of “emotion” before we explore the variety of ways you can optimize and utilize a positive emotional wellbeing.
E-mo-tion (n.): a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one's circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.
I once heard someone reference emotion as “energy in motion.” It made complete sense to me. Emotion is energy and the good news is, you can choose what energy you would like to create and focus on. When you're in a positive emotional state, it feeds your overall wellbeing with positive outcomes. Mental, physical, and spiritual states become harmonious when you're “feeling” good. Flip it, and you will recognize that your emotional state will rise when you are taking care of your physical, mental, and spiritual aspects as well. They are all interconnected and equally important.When you learn to listen to the message behind your emotions, you can truly take the reigns of your energetic state. Let’s explore a few tools to help you harness positive, healthy emotions that can assist and contribute to creating a joyful life of service. The happier you are, the more you have to give your loved ones, causes, and the world.
1. Healthy Relationships = Healthy Emotions
Since you are, in fact, energy, it’s no surprise that the people you surround yourself with will have a direct impact on your emotional wellbeing. If you choose to be in relationships that do not support you or feed your soul, you're making a choice that will impact every aspect of your world. You're a human craving connection and acceptance from your fellow man and when you're not receiving positive reinforcement, you will begin to doubt yourself, believe the negativity others are projecting on you, and most likely begin to lose faith in life’s process.
When you're surrounded by positive people and supportive relationships that bring out the best in you, there is no end to what you can accomplish. You will have the courage it takes to show up in your highest version of you. You rise up because you know you are perceived positively by people who matter the most and that your cast of characters have your back.
2. Expansion vs. Contraction
When someone says something hurtful or behaves unkindly, can you “feel” it in your body? Do you feel like they punched you in the stomach or stabbed you in the heart? Do you feel like hiding or climbing under a rock? Maybe you saw a negative image on television or were witness to something you did not agree with and found yourself with a sinking feeling in your stomach. If you answered “yes” at any point, know that these reactions and visceral experiences are all states of "contraction". When you're in contraction, you shrink from the world and cannot deliver your light in a meaningful way. It is impossible to thrive when you find yourself pulling away from your own grand self-expression.
Imagine a stranger taking the time to look you in the eyes while delivering a bright smile directly to you, or perhaps a beautiful song playing on the radio, one that resonates so deeply with you that you feel yourself being opened and uplifted. That experience is called “expansion.” The state of expansion is where you will find your authentic, fearless, joyful expression.
It is necessary to have both emotional experiences of expansion and contraction on a daily basis in order to care for your energetic system, but allow contraction to be a choice you make to rejuvenate, not a state you are thrown into by another’s words or actions. When you do find yourself struggling in contraction, simply recognize it, accept it, and make a new choice to bring in a thought, energy, or person who can help you crack open your heart to expand once again. Surround yourself with things and people who empower you and avoid situations and people who weaken you. Surround yourself with things, music, and experiences that make you happy that you're alive.
3. Clear Communication
Whenever you find yourself in a place of contraction with another person, it is up to you to communicate clearly how you feel without blaming anyone. Simply acknowledge the fact that you don’t feel supported or safe. Let people know what you need in order to feel expanded and loved, and take full responsibility for your emotional state. No one can “make” you feel anything. It’s up to you to advocate for yourself based on the feedback you're getting from your emotional state. Blaming someone else for how you feel is futile. Take responsibility for yourself and provide a solution for any situation you find yourself in that is triggering contraction.
One of the most important things when it comes to emotional intelligence, is to be aware of where you are holding on to unwanted energy or emotions in your body. Do you stop yourself when you need to cry? Do you convince yourself that anger is not an appropriate expression? On the contrary, it is imperative that you embrace your true emotions and allow them to move through you in a productive, healthy way. If you don’t fully allow yourself to process, you can find yourself in a state of stagnant frustration. Emotional energy can actually become trapped and stuck in your body if you don't allow it to move through you.
In the book, “Emotion Code” by Dr. Bradley Nelson, he explores how emotions can impact your physical, mental, and spiritual health. He explains how energy can become trapped in your body after experiencing traumatic events or even high, positive ones. Trapped energy can create disease and stress in your system if it is not properly addressed. Allow the message and intelligence of your emotions to inform you, rather than rule you.
5. The Choice
As we discussed in the last blog of this series, “Positive Mental Wellness Keys for Change Makers,” every aspect of your wellbeing resides in one of two places. You are either in a state of fear or love. What’s it going to be? Fear is contraction. Love is expansion. Fear is stuck. Love is flow. Fear is swallowing your voice. Love is expression combined with compassion. Fear is lack. Love is prosperity. Fear is martyr. Love is gratitude. Fear is hiding. Love is creativity. Fear is stingy. Love is generous. Fear is rules. Love is authenticity. Fear is dark and heavy. Love is light.
What are you going to choose for yourself? Take a moment to scan your body. Learn to listen to its emotional signals, "energy in motion.” Hopefully, you feel empowered to know that you have a choice! You are on a mission to make a difference. You can choose to shine your expanded light on all you do and everyone you touch. It’s your true nature to show up and contribute as your best expression, the rest is just a story you are telling yourself.