Are thoughts and feelings bad words in today's world? Even if we don't want to talk about them, they are always there. Consider this story:
Jack has a snow removal business and February 2019 kept him busy. Of course, snow removal involves late, middle-of-the-night efforts so that snow is removed by the start of business the next day. One particular night, he got home around 3 in the morning and shoveled his own sidewalks. Innocent enough, right?
Imagine these three different thoughts from the neighbors:
PERSON 1 - "Yes, I heard it and figured someone must be shoveling and went back to sleep".
PERSON 2 - "Yes, I heard it. For Pete's sake! I couldn't sleep and there he is waking the whole neighborhood, and I had to be up in two hours and had a full day ahead of me".
PERSON 3 - "Yes, I heard it and was admiring that a 75 year old man could have the energy and stamina to do that! It prompted me to wake up at 5 so I could remove my own snow."
The neighbor removing snow at 3 in the morning prompted three different thoughts which prompted three different reactions (feeling & actions). Person one had neutral feelings and got plenty of sleep but not much snow removal. Person two was irritated and managed to share the story with his co-workers throughout the day, which kept the anger stoked everytime he told the story. He also didn't get much sleep and was grumpy with his family later that night. Person three was feeling amazed and energetic to complete her task.
We can't change the event, but we can change our response to the event. How do we do this?
1. Acknowledge the event without adjectives, adverbs, or expletives.
Jack was shoveling snow in he middle of the night.
2. Name the feeling as an emotion.
I was irritated.
3. Explore your thoughts or your reasons why.
I haven't been sleeping well because I am worried about all of the job cuts happening at work.
4. What is the action (or re-action)?
My response cut into my sleep and kept replaying throughout my day.
5. Reframe how you see the event. You don't have to reframe it in a super positive light, just look at it from a different lens.
Jack might have the opportunity to sleep for a few hours after he knew everything was shoveled.
How can you acknowledge your thoughts, feelings & actions?