Well, I’ll tell you for me, I don’t actually remember. Thank goodness!
As adults, we have learned to take care of our basic needs, right? We brush our teeth, wash our bodies and clothes, and go to the bathroom when needed. These things are obvious and automatic for us. That said, we typically do nothing to “clean out” or release the negative emotions we experience. We tend to tolerate feelings of anxiety, frustration, anger and sadness allowing them to build up over time.
We often use distractions to avoid feeling and processing mild to intense emotions. Distraction may look like zoning out with screen time, or a glass of wine or maybe even picking a fight with a loved one about something inconsequential.
Our opportunity here is to learn and then practice emotional hygiene.
Following are some basic principles of emotional hygiene:
- Start this process by bringing awareness to your feelings and thoughts. Without watching your emotions, it’s easy to get stuck in the problems.
- If you are really ready for a shift, be honest with yourself—you will realize that each challenge life offers is really a version of a similar difficulty from the past. Previously one or both of your parents may have brought up feelings of unworthiness, and now it’s a coworker. Different time. Different person. Same pattern.
- Take response-ability—you have a choice as to how to respond to an upsetting event. Automatic responses will typically take you down a familiar path with undesirable results.
- Take inspired action—do some thing about it. (Remember not to avoid the arising feelings by distracting yourself.) Try connecting with the wellspring of love that rests at the center of your Being. How? Just breathe to start with. Feel your body from the inside. Imagine your breath moving throughout your body, attaching to tension and then carrying the tension out of your body.
- Tune into your body—it has so much information to offer you. After a few breaths, just feel your body. Bring your focus to your heart and feel. Even if what you are feeling is sadness, allow yourself to feel it. Once the sadness feels recognized and seen, you are more likely to be able to release it.
- Find a method to release the unpleasant emotions. Imagine drawing a line around your heart and stomach area, turning it into a window and opening the window. Allow the emotions of anger, sadness, frustration, guilt, fear, etc. to go out that window. Keep letting them go more and more until you feel a shift and then close the window.
- Replace the negative emotions with feelings that go with what you most deeply desire. Your brain and body need a map. Show your mind and body what it feels like to be filled with gratitude—as if a pleasant outcome has already arrived. Make that feeling as real as possible in your body.
- Let go of the specifics as to how you want things to work out. Keep the feeling of gratitude powerful and then be curious as to how the universe will bring forth an event to match the gratitude within.
- Once that event arrives, stay in the gratitude. Like begets like. Being thankful brings forth more to be thankful for.
Make a priority of practicing emotional hygiene—clearing out your mind of limiting thoughts and your body of negative emotions. This allows your heart to be a clear channel of receiving and giving unconditional love.