In part one of this series, you set up your soulwork stations, and in part two you learned how to go from soulwork to concrete strategy in your process.
Now, let’s get you shored up with some resources for ongoing support. Indeed, it can be soul-serving to read inspirational books and blogs, or attend workshops, webinars and events designed with personal development in mind. But at some point, you have to shift from gathering information to living what you’ve learned.
What follows is in support of that living the learning energy. Let’s call it “The 3E Groove”: The Event, The Emotion, and The Expression.
Believe it or not, you are not your emotions. As an emotional wellness educator, I study and teach the art of using emotions to nurture, rather than stifle, all forms of expression. Women and men have both been victimized in this tragic way. We have both been taught that our emotions are impulsive, volatile aspects of ourselves, and should be tamed at all costs.
I couldn’t disagree more.
When an event (particularly one that reconnects us with our pre-Aha! behaviors) triggers a specific response, that resulting emotion, a combination of impulse and repeated pattern, is usually beyond our control.
The event that triggers the emotion is so powerful, that both our chemistry and our learned tendencies bow down to that feeling before we have the opportunity to make a conscious choice in another direction.
No big deal. You know why? Because if you worry less about the space between the event (the trigger) and your emotion (the way you feel about what you’ve experienced), and focus instead on the space between your emotion and the expression (the way you choose to explore that experience), you shift from victim to victory in your own personal development.
Human beings operate within the spectrum of six basic emotions, none of which are inherently negative or positive, until we label it so.
Our emotions get labeled as either good or bad, and we are charged with figuring out how to silence our instinctive responses to the events we experience. But they are neither. Instead, they are vital gauges that, when treated with attention and compassionate detachment, help you to learn about your own self and see opportunities to choose the action that serves our best interest.
“Realize that the emotions you are feeling at this very moment are a gift, a guideline, a support system, a call to action. If you suppress your emotions and try to drive them out of your life, or if you magnify them and allow them to take over everything, then you’re squandering one of life’s most precious resources.” — Anthony Robbins
Perhaps you had a Jada Pinkett Smith Aha! moment and realized you needed to slow down and release your need to control and micromanage your world.
Or maybe you left that relationship before you went back to that “Aw hell, I’m in another version of the same three all-take/no-give relationships I’ve been in all my life” moment.
Whichever the case, your tendency to feel bad, sad, angry, stupid, frustrated, discouraged when an event occurs that finds you too close to your old patterns, is natural and doesn’t need to be put in front of your willingness to choose something different.
Essentially, you feel however you feel, and most times, you can’t change the way something or someone affects you—at least not initially.
In your work toward sustaining your Aha!, it can be empowering to acknowledge that whatever dawned on you during your revelation is the very thing you can use to design the space between the emotions you feel and the way you choose to express yourself in that situation.
This is prime real estate for you to do your Life Design work. The space between your emotion and what you choose to do with that emotion is ripe with opportunities for you to nurture your Ahas!
Once you recognize your triggers and give yourself room to access your emotions, you’re left with a big decision:
Do I ride the wave of this emotion, satisfying my need to be right, or validated or temporarily satisfied in some unserving, but familiar way?
Or, do I bring my Aha! strategies back into play, asking myself how I want to feel in that moment, bringing the person I am becoming to the forefront, and making a decision in that moment, that supports the choice I made after that Aha?
That’s all there is to it. Take your Aha! from a radical idea to a well-implemented series of changes that support the person you now choose to be. Remember, you are not what you have experienced in your past, those are moments in time. Who you are now, and what forms of expression you use to represent yourself in each moment, is the only thing that determines the person you are becoming.
Now, what will you do with your next aha?
Certified Family Life Educator Akilah S. Richards founded The Life Design Agency to help women engage in self-exploration, self-expression, and self-governance, and learn how to utilize emotional wellness practices to reclaim their voice in their work-life experiences. The international speaker has authored several books, including the Amazon and Barnes & Noble bestseller, How She Got Free. Her work has been featured in national publications such as Essence, Clutch, and Real Simple magazines, The Jamaica Gleaner, and online spaces such as MSNBC’s Today Moms, TinyBuddha.com, EverydayFeminism.com, and MyBrownBaby.com.