Reclaiming Yourself through Reclaiming Positive Emotional States
Focusing on any positive feeling state helps shifts the Focus on the Negative that tends to be a legacy from highly stressed family systems (with addicted, emotionally abusive, and/or mentally ill parents). When focusing on the negative becomes a habit over time, we can lose touch with what it is like to feel okay in our own bodies. You can reverse this habit by spending some time each day focusing on some positive emotional state by remembering times you felt that emotion.*
Since we tend to experience feelings that we most recently felt, making a conscious effort to remember a feeling state will increase the likelihood that you will experience this emotion again soon. This habit will create a self-fulfilling prophesy effect that is positive because it subconsciously shifts behaviors. The first time I tried this experiment for myself, I felt the stresses of life were crowding out feeling loving and being loved, so I retrieved memories of different types of love with different people. The next day I found that more people were smiling at me. Then I realized that I had been smiling more than usual, so of course, more people were smiling back!
Are you willing to try the experiment? What emotion haven’t you felt in a while or what emotion would you like to feel more frequently? Even if you can only imagine glimpses of this emotional state, that is sufficient. Spend at least 5 minutes or more in solitude remembering what it is like to feel this feeling. Actively pull up a memory or memories of feeling this emotion. I think that just before sleeping is a good time for the positive feelings to be “incubated.” Keep repeating this experiment until you have ready access to this emotion as appropriate, i.e. courage when you need courage, serenity when engaged in your daily routines, joy in response to life’s splendors, etc.
*Note that this exercise is not meant to be used as a substitute for experiencing painful feeling in response to painful events – the goal is ready access to all your feelings as needed. For more tips on Healing from Emotionally Abusive Relationships, order the workbook: http://toolkitforhealing.com.
©Noreen Wedman 2011