What are some strategies adults can use to more effectively manage their feelings? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
I wrestled with understanding why it was/is so hard for people to experience unpleasant feelings, and the "simplest" strategy I've come up with you can read in my book "90 Seconds to a Life You Love" or watch in my TEDxSantaBarbara talk. I describe it as a formula:
1 choice / 8 feelings / 90 Seconds
The 1 choice is to be as aware of and in touch with as much of your moment-to-moment experience as possible. The choice, then, is awareness, not avoidance.
The second part of the formula is to be able to acknowledge, accept, experience and move through 8 unpleasant feelings (sadness, shame, helplessness, anger, vulnerability, embarrassment, disappointment and frustration).
The third is to be able to ride 1 or more 90 second waves of bodily sensations. Here's how to understand the last part. The resource here is from Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor... When a feeling fires off in the brain, there is a rush of biochemicals into the bloodstream - and that rush of biochemicals activate bodily sensations (think the heat or warmth in your chest or face associated with embarrassment or heaviness in the chest at the heart assoc with sadness, or the warmth of connecting with a close friend or love being experienced throughout your whole body); once we have conscious awareness of the bodily sensation, we often describe emotional/feeling words to describe the sensation. From Dr. Taylor's observations, these same biochemicals then flush out of the bloodstream in roughly 90 seconds.
It's not that we don't want to experience the whole range of what we experience emotionally - in fact, I believe we do want to experience that range. Instead, what I realized... and what makes it so hard to experience... is that we don't want to experience the bodily sensations that help us know what we are feeling emotionally. The key here is that if you really get that it's the bodily sensation that is so uncomfortable and you know it's short lived (a range up to approximately 90 seconds), then most of us are willing to allow ourselves to know experience and move through feelings we once found hard to bear. Think surfing or "riding the waves" of bodily sensations - and it's one or more waves - that will help you more effectively manage all of your feelings... the pleasant and unpleasant ones.
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