Exercise: Be friends with your emotions

Emotions get a bad rap sometimes, because sometimes it is thought that our emotions get in the way of ‘productive work’ or ‘rational progress’. But our emotions are a big part of connecting with ourselves: the real purpose and truth.

God shows emotions, and want us to feel – God cares about how we feel!

Quite often we shut off our emotions when it was unpleasant or unwanted. But unless we give our emotions some room to be they will overwhelm us after a while. By giving unwanted emotions some attention, we have opportunity to redirect its energy toward healthy decisions.

This is a simple exercise to be present to your own emotions. You can take a moment from time to time to process what is going on with you at the moment.

Take your time with this exercise, it may surprise you what comes up when you give room to be present with yourself. You may want to imagine God sitting there with you and keep in doalogue as you go through the process, or write down some words and say it back to yourself as you go. You might want to light a candle as a symbol of God’s presence with you as you do it.

Notice your emotions and your body, sometimes one emotion links with another, especially if you haven’t process your emotions for a while. This can seem overwhelming so it might be good to give yourself a perimeter to one feeling you want to process at this time and leaving the rest for next time.

Note: A spiritual director (or counsellors, therapists) can walk with you in this process, listening with you and make sure it is a safe place for you. If you feel this is hard to do by yourself, it is best to have someone skilled in the helping profession to be with you as you process. Don’t wait until it becomes too overwhelming to seek help!

Prepare:

  • time – around 10-15 minutes
  • a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed or distracted. (phone off!)
  • colour pencils / crayons / felt pens
  • a piece of paper (preferably A3 size or bigger)

Start

Start with drawing yourself on the paper, just a outline of a shape of your body, maybe put some features of yourself on it. keep it simple.

Take a few deep slow breathes.

Notice

Pay attention to an emotion that you hold for you toay, or this week.
Maybe you are not sure what it is exactly, it’s ok, just acknowledge that it is there.

Noticing it, where do you feel it most in your body?

Put something there on the figure, like some colour, on the figure to represent the feeling.

Naming

Can you name what it is that you feeling? Can you put a word to how you feel? Here is a visual wheel of emotions that might help.

Perhaps it’s a mixture of feelings, can you try to name them all?

Put the closest word you can name your emotions on the paper.

Owning

Be with the feelings, they are not right or wrong, they are just there. Acknowledging that they are there. Say to yourself: no one forced me to have these feelings, it is mine.

Be as a friend with it, listen to it.

Say it back to yourself out loud if you can. ‘I feel…’

Respond

How will you respond to the feelings?

What would you like to do with them?

What choices do I have in respond to the feelings? What can I do that would be most conducive to growth?

It may be that there is no proper way to respond or choices to be made, maybe that for now the best thing is just to acknowledge the feelings and notice them when it comes.

Perhaps you need some help from God, or you want to ask God about your feelings. Sit with the feeling and God, how is God seem toward you and your feelings?

Be with the small figure that you have drawn for a minute. Imagine this is a friend who came to you and tell you of these feelings, what would you say to this person as a friend?

Lastly, be with this figure that you are drawn, together with God, tell this small figure that: ‘you are loved.’

Adapted from Words Made Flesh, Notre Dame, Indiana: Ave Maria Press, 1986, pp.49 – 66 by Sr Fran Ferder