Once you’ve become a witness to yourself, your actions, behaviors, and words, you’re in a wonderful place of deep listening to begin witnessing and identifying your feelings. Being able to consciously label your feelings, calling them by name and allowing yourself to fully connect with them leads you into a state of alignment and brings you home in moments of circumstantial chaos. While you witness, you release the stories that bind you and while you connect with your feelings you experience your truth, absent of limitations that cause relentless suffering.
Identifying your feelings allows you space to progress and discover what needs are or are not being met. This process illuminates where your attention will best be utilized, in service of your highest self.
There have been many clues dropped of this wisdom throughout my life, however, the solidifying element was a concept called Nonviolent Communication (NVC) that was exposed to me through practice and a workshop during the Sustainable Living Tour in the Summer of 2016. This knowledge and process of being a witness, identifying feelings and determining needs has been outlined extensively by the creators of NVC. Originally, this style of compassionate communication was developed for peoples who were at war to facilitate positive social change. “NVC gives us the tools to understand what triggers us, to take responsibility for our reactions, and to deepen our connection with ourselves and others, thereby transforming our habitual responses to life. Ultimately, it involves a radical change in how we think about life and meaning.” The basic premise of NVC is to understand that all human actions are needs that people are seeking to meet. When we can appropriate needs to feelings, we can better understand ourselves and others.
For the purpose of this post and it's clarity, I will focus on identifying feelings and various practices to go about doing so. In a later post, I will share about moving beyond identifying your feelings and address needs based upon the feelings.
Identifying your feelings isn’t always easy, especially if you’ve never made a practice of it before. It’s always good to remember that it is a practice and the more you do it, the easier it will become. During this phase of learning you may feel better practicing alone or maybe you have a friend willing to work with you as you move through various feelings until you identify the one that resonates most with you and your present state. I found that most people, even strangers are receptive to my vulnerability as I navigate my feelings out loud. That act in itself becomes an invitation for others to do the same.
The NVC primer has a list of feelings that I love to use to help me identify my state of being. Use the following list to help you identify and create a vocabulary for the feelings of your specific states of being.
The most important aspect of this process is to take responsibility for your feelings.
There are some feelings that displace ownership and blame others. NVC recognizes these words as “false feelings”. Beginning to recognize where you have power leaks is the first step to becoming fully empowered. This whole post is about acknowledging your voice, your language, your vocabulary that you choose to use that is either in favor of your happiness and health or in its detriment. This is not an exhaustive list, but provides you with a general sense of words that displace responsibility of feelings and give away your power of choice.
For example, let's say I wasn't invited to a specific outing with my close friends. I might tell myself that I feel rejected by them. If I'm taking full ownership of my feelings, this same situation could look and feel very different by using the words listed above in the "feelings when your needs are not satisfied" boxes. Instead of simply stating that I feel rejected, I can use statements like:
"I feel upset that I'm not with them."
"I feel lonely."
"I feel frustrated."
"I feel numb."
Statements like these bring you into alignment with how you are truly feeling by identifying, naming, and connecting your feelings to your experience based on whether your needs are being met.
Once you begin to acquire the language to identify your feelings you can begin a practice that provides and allows you space to select the appropriate words to describe your personal experience.
It is oftentimes difficult to quiet the mind of external circumstance to recognize the feeling you are experiencing.
Here are a three tools to help you find the quiet in the chaos that will cultivate the perfect environment for you to witness your feelings that will ultimately lead you to understanding your own needs.
1. Heart Focused Breathing (10 seconds)
This is another HeartMath find that I love to share. When your physically stressed to the point where your muscles are tight, breath is shallow, mind is racing, sink into a heart focused breathing. Close your eyes, bringing your attention to my chest, the place where the heart is located and begin to breath deeply. If you feel like you need help focusing on your heart, place a hand or two on your chest, feeling my heartbeat, allowing the opportunity to tune in to your inner world. Staying here for 5 breathes will allow you the space to consciously connect with your core, your center, your being, and your feelings. While still physically breathing through the mouth and the nose, focus your awareness on the heart space, imagining each inhale and exhale moving through the heart, in and out through the chest. This process becomes a filter for the chaos; a channel for authenticity and integrity. You can become a witness to the feelings and emotions that have arisen due to circumstance and consciously choose how you want to connect with them and express them.
2. Heart Meditation (60 seconds)
From the heart focused breathing, sometimes I’ll sink into a heart centered meditation. While each inhale and exhale still passes through the heart space, or chest, during the exhale extend your heart-love energy field out beyond your personal space and bring it back in through the heart on the inhale. With each progressive exhale, reach farther and farther with your compassionate, loving heart energy until you encompass the entire globe in your radiating love and light. Can you visualize yourself breathing with the earth?
3. Being Alone in Nature
This one is not as easily as accessible as the heart breathing or meditation because it requires some intentional planning. Even if you are in an urban setting, you may still be able to find a park or garden that can satisfy your needs, supporting you in connecting with your feelings. Observing nature as a mirror allows you the opportunity to feel a connection to the greater whole and also sets the stage for you to realize that you are not separate from nature, you are nature. This is a practice that supports inner peace and increases access to your feelings during times of stress.
Attaining this level of deep listening and tuning into your own feelings surrounding your personal experience allows you to find your home within. In the next post, we will explore what needs are or are not being met from the feelings that are being identified here that will bring you even closer to home than ever before.
Aimee, 30 years old views life as a gift and an opportunity to live your dreams. Stick around to hear how she does it and supports you in doing it, too.