The ‘Silly Season’ usually equals stress.
From family gatherings, to Christmas parties, and running the gauntlet of shopping malls, there is no denying that December is a stressful month. While there are a few lucky folk who manage to breeze through this season with an air of zen, there is a good chance that most of you out there have had at least one brief moment of wishing that it was January already. With this in mind this series looks at ways to un-silly yourself this December.
The shops are sold out of the one toy that was on the top of the christmas request list. The car breaks down half way to the supermarket on the side of the highway. You open your letterbox to find the electricity bill waiting for you along with invites to five different Christmas parties. Times like these emotions can run high. We can start to feel sad, disappointed, enraged, etc… when we let emotions completely take over or mind and bodies we can become irrational, and sometimes dangerous to ourselves and others. Dr. Russ Harris, author of The Happiness Trap, suggests that by practising expansion we can sidestep our ‘thinking self’, or all the unhelpful commentary that makes us become our emotions, and connect with our emotions in an observant way. By using an expansion practice you are able to watch your emotions and learn about yourself and your experience from them, rather than let them become dangerous and giant beasts! Here are three steps on how to use the expansion process.
Step 1. Observe
This requires you to become aware of the sensations in your body. Working from head to toe you can start to notice how you are feeling, what you are feeling, and where the feeling is located in your body. Look for an area that seems to be bothering you the most (if all of it’s bothering you just pick the most bothersome spot). Focus your energy on this spot and ‘examine it like a scientist’. Where does it start and end, is it inside your body or outside on the surface, where is it most intense, does it have a vibration, is it hot or cold…? Keep your questioning open.
Step 2. Breathe
In step two you breathe into the area of discomfort to make space for it. Start by taking a few deep slow breaths emptying your lungs with the exhale. Keep breathing these slow deep breaths and focus on allowing them to dissolve tension in your body. Breathing isn’t likely to rid you of the problem altogether but by making space and calming yourself then the intensity of the tension should reduce and your levels of calmness will increase.
Step 3. Allow
After observation and breath we settle into allowing the sensation to ‘be there’ in our bodies. When we work on allowing any emotions, whether we like them or not, to just sit in our bodies without our mind commenting on them, suddenly both good and bad don’t seem as extreme as they once did. It can be hard to allow something we dislike to just ‘sit’ within ourselves and our minds will want to tell a story about it and give it attention. When you start to notice your mind talking about the situation (which it will, minds are chatty things), say ‘Thanks Mind’ to it and go back to allowing the feeling to sit.
By not getting caught up in our emotions life can be a whole lot less stressful or emotionally draining. It can be difficult to fight the urge to submit to emotions or worst still… to push them aside or bury them, but by creating a deeper level of understanding with yourself you can start to become aware of exactly how you operate and learn how to manage things that trigger your emotions in a better way.
Hopefully these quick tips help you get on-top of the emotive season and allow you to maximise the good stuff and learn from the bad. What’s your favourite way to deal with emotions yo