The holiday season is upon us which means the giving and getting of gifts. As children we can’t wait to get that special toy we’ve been waiting all year for. We feel the thrill of anticipation. We may feel excited, happy and loved believing that getting that desired present is the cause of our happiness. No matter what holiday we celebrate or what age we are, we often wish those great feelings could last throughout the year.
Most of us are taught at a very early age to want something outside of ourselves in order to feel better. As we grow up the desire grows bigger, the programming gets stronger and the worse we feel when we don’t get what we think we want.
As adults we understand that being happy all the time is not feasible but we also can’t help just wanting to feel better. When the holiday bombardment of advertising has died down, we are still being programmed to believe that losing those last 10 pounds, finding that perfect match, owning that shiny red car or going on that tropical vacation is the answer to our happiness.
This week I’m going to discuss why we feel the way we do, how to feel better and share an exercise that will help you to decide how you want to feel on a daily basis.
Why we feel the way we do
The number one thing that people believe will make them feel better is having more money. But have you ever asked yourself “If having more money is supposed to make me happy, then why are there so many unhappy wealthy people?” In my 30 plus years in public accounting and being exposed to many high net worth clients, I can tell you first-hand that money can’t buy you happiness or love.
The simple reason we want the things we want is because we believe we will feel better in the having of them. What no one has ever taught us is that our feelings don’t come from people, places or things; our feelings come from our thoughts.
I’ve often heard people say things like “I said positive affirmations and I still feel frustrated because I can’t find the perfect man!” or “I tried thinking good thoughts in order to be happy around my mother-in-law but it just doesn’t work!” The reason you still don’t feel better after trying to say positive statements is that you don’t really believe the affirmations you’ve been saying.
In order to feel better, you must think believable thoughts. The amazing thing about our brains is that once we think a better feeling, believable thought on purpose, our brains will look for similar thoughts to create similar feelings.
I cannot stress this enough – the reason you feel any emotion is because of the thoughts you think.
If you feel excited, it’s because you are having thoughts that excite you. If you feel sad, it’s because you are having thoughts that create sadness for you.
I love knowing that I am the creator of my feelings because then I can feel better whenever I choose to. I don’t need circumstances to change in order to feel any emotion. I don’t need a person to change or to own a certain pocketbook or live in a certain neighborhood in order to feel better.
How to feel better
The first step in feeling better is taking responsibility for how you feel right now. Taking responsibility means looking at how you currently feel and telling yourself “I am creating this”. Taking responsibility is just an exercise in curiosity. You start by saying “I feel (fill in the blank). I wonder what thought has created that feeling?” Blaming circumstances for how you feel is how you stay stuck.
For example, your day at work might have been super busy, your boss may have spoken harshly to you, there may have been more cars on the road than usual during your commute or your child may have brought home a note from his teacher saying he wasn’t prepared for class. In the Manage Your Mind Model, those are all neutral circumstances. They don’t mean anything until we decide what we are going to make them mean (for help with the Manage Your Mind Model get your free copy here of “5 Simple Steps To Reduce Overwhelm Today”).
Since our feelings are within our power, we can choose how we want to feel about any situation no matter how we’ve felt in the past. For example, we may have historically felt stressed when it was super busy at work but we can now choose to feel productive instead. We may typically feel annoyed at traffic but now we can choose to feel excited about the new podcast we discovered and the fact that we have more time to listen to it on the longer drive home (hopefully it’s my podcast :-). We may have gotten angry in the past if our child brought home a note from his teacher but now we can choose to feel curious about what’s really going on.
It’s also helpful to acknowledge what actions you take when you feel a certain way. When you feel stressed at work, do you typically snap at your husband when you get home? When you feel annoyed at traffic, do you normally curse at anyone who tries to merge into your lane? When one child brings home a note from their teacher, do you then hover over your other children while they do their homework?
Author Byron Katie teaches that when you argue with reality you lose, but only 100% of the time. Arguing that work shouldn’t be busy, your boss shouldn’t speak harshly, there shouldn’t be traffic and children should always be prepared for class all the time is arguing with reality.
The great news is that nothing needs to change in order for you to feel better. You get to feel better based on the believable thoughts you choose to think in that moment.
An exercise to help you feel better
If you are anything like me, you love putting a concept into action and applying it rather than just conceptualizing it. I learned the following exercise from Brooke Castillo of The Life Coach School and it helped me tremendously to learn how to feel better:
Top Three Feelings Worksheet:
Step One – on a sheet of paper write the three most common feelings you currently have on a daily basis
Step Two – describe why you think you have those three feelings on a daily basis
Step Three – next write the top three feelings you would like to have on a daily basis
Step Four – below that describe why you want to have these feelings on a daily basis
Step Five – lastly write down how your results would change if you changed your top three current daily feelings. Would you keep any of them the same? Why?
Here’s my worksheet:
- Three most common feelings I have been having lately on a daily basis:
- Why I have those feelings:
- I feel annoyed on a daily basis when I think that my new puppy should behave better and not damage anything
- I feel confused because I am learning a lot about online marketing for my coaching business and I think that there is so much information to try to make sense of
- I feel free because I have a flexible schedule, work close to home and think about how much I enjoy my free time
- Top three feelings I would like to have:
- Why I would like to have those feelings:
- I would like to have patience because it feels better than feeling annoyed; having the feeling of patience would mean I stop arguing with reality and think “I’m letting dogs be dogs” while still doing what I can to protect my things
- I would like to feel clarity because confusion is such a waste of my time; when I am clear I can take action which may entail thinking “there are no wrong decisions” or “if I need help, I can ask for it”
- I would keep the feeling of free because it helps me to see how much flexibility I have which also leads to a feeling of gratitude
- How would my results change if I changed my top three feelings:
- The feeling of patience would make me not react negatively when my new puppy is just being a puppy and the result would be that I show up loving him unconditionally
- The feeling of clarity would lead to me taking action which would result in getting my online marketing underway, reaching out to a friend who knows sales very well and seeing what works and what doesn’t work
- The feeling of gratitude would make me not complain when something isn’t what I want it to be and would result in feeling better no matter what the circumstance is
As you can see, how we feel on a daily basis is what creates the actions and results we have in our lives. By getting clear about the feelings we would like to feel, we can change our results in small and big ways. Feeling better doesn’t need to be a struggle when you know what’s causing your feelings in the first place. Then you can get to the business of choosing from the platter of emotions that are available at the buffet of life.
- Taking responsibility for how you feel means telling yourself “I created this”
- You get to feel better based on the believable thoughts you choose to think
- Taking a look at your top three feelings on a daily basis and why you have those feelings is an important exercise
- Choosing how you’d like to feel, why and the results you would get if you changed how you feel is how to create a better life
If you’d like some help with feeling better, please feel free to schedule a free strategy session or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can get to work together.