The wonderful (and wonderfully funny) therapist, Martha Beck, says you wouldn’t believe how many intelligent, articulate clients get totally stumped when she asks them this simple question: “What are you feeling?”
Here is her sage advice for uncovering what’s really going on with you emotionally. This is incredibly rich information that your whole, true Self could really benefit from knowing. Find out how, here:
“If you’re feeling a confusing welter of emotions, try categorizing the sensation into one of four major areas: sad, mad, glad, or scared. Most of my clients can usually put their emotions in one of these categories. Doing so seems to prime the pump, allowing people to get more specific, subtle emotional information. Once you get used to doing this, you may get so good at expressing every nuance of feeling that you start spouting extemporaneous poetry.
“Speaking of poetry, another way to refine your emotion-identification skill is to expose yourself to art. You can do this without a dirty raincoat or a lurid leer; just look for works of art–any art–that seem to match what you’re feeling. For example, think of a piece of music that matches the mood you’re in right now. What comes to mind? Is the melody wistful, triumphant, calming, excited, buoyant? One of the characters in Anne Tyler’s novel Breathing Lessons never displays overt emotion but perpetually whistles songs whose lyrics describe the feelings. I had a client who did exactly the same thing. She realized she wanted a divorce after noticing that after every knock-down-drag-out fight with her husband, she found herself humming the tune to “Time to Say Goodbye.” Another client, Thomas, became fascinated by Renaissance art as soon as he got in touch with his emotional self. One day he figured out that he was filling his life with painted saints and angels because he had a deep-seated yearning for the spiritual practices of his childhood. What about you?”
Adapted from Finding Your Own North Star, by Martha Beck (Three Rivers Press, 2001). Experience Martha Beck at Omega’s Being Fearless Conference, 3/31 - 4/2, www.eomega.org.