5 Simple Steps to Process Your Emotions favorite_border

Conversations from the Heart - October 9th 2020

Author: Rachel Brathen

Topics: Growth, Healing

Links: Apple Podcasts / Spotify

About the Episode

Today’s episode has the power to propel your healing process to an entirely new level as Rachel shares five simple – yet radical – steps to alchemize and process your emotions.

The first years that we spend on this earth are crucial when it comes to our development and the ways that we relate to the world around us. Were your feelings validated as a child?

For many of us growing up, we were shamed or punished for being angry, sad, frustrated, or any feelings that as a society we have labelled to be “bad”. As we grew up, we may have internalized that shame, which leads us to avoid our feelings, to deny our lived experiences, and ultimately, to think there is something wrong with us.

But now the ball is in your court… And you have the chance to heal! The next time you find yourself feeling anxious, depressed, stressed, sad, angry, or frustrated, sit with the five steps Rachel shares in this episode (Pause, Notice, Name, Track and Validate!).

Over time, you may realize that your old wounds don’t trigger you anymore, your harmful patterns show up less, your mind has more space, you are less reactive, and more steady. The practice really isn’t about avoiding what is hard, but to learn how to honor what is real and true in every moment.

One thing we know for sure is that we could all use a little more peace in our lives. Tune in to feel - and heal.

Key Takeaways

  • Instead of letting your emotions sit in the body as anxiety, depression, stress or physical pain, get into the continuous practice of alchemizing and processing your emotions. It will change your life.
  • When you try to change your emotions you are denying yourself of your actual experience! Instead of avoiding the feelings that challenge you, give yourself the space to honor and allow them.
  • For many of us, processing our feelings doesn’t come as second nature (and we may even have been punished for feeling sad for expressing anger when we were young!). If we didn’t learn it then, chances are we are still missing this important life skill in our lives right now.
  • Time is not linear. If we are able to heal what is happening to us now, it also translates to healing what happened to us in our past. This is an incremental process! The more you practice sitting with your feelings every day, the more you will notice a positive shift in your life.
  • Rachel’s 5 steps to process your emotions are Pause, Notice, Name, Track and Validate! Tune in to learn what they mean.



[0:03] Welcome to a brand new episode of the Yoga Girl podcast, Conversations From the Heart. I am smiling so big right now because I’m talking to you from the podcast throne [laughs]. I, I don’t know what got into me lately, but I, I, I just had a feeling like this podcast really deserves a magnificent, majestic place, and I got out and bought myself a little, little throne yesterday. I’m going to share this on social media, but I’m currently sitting on, it’s like a rattan chair, with a huge rounded back, think Game of Thrones goes a little bit hippy, like Game of Thrones goes Yoga Girl. It’s this unbelievably majestic chair.

[0:52] We are now filming the podcast, so I’m really excited to share little snippets of this show on social media and other places, but I’m feeling, I’m feeling very regal right now sitting, sitting on my little throne. I hope you’re having a good day wherever you are; I am really excited about this episode today. I’m going to share something that has deeply transformed my life, a particular actionable practice that has propelled my healing into a whole new level. Something that’s really helped me tap into that place at the center of my own heart where I can feel, like visibly, actually feel how I’m healing old wounds and old things that just have been lingering in my heart for a really long time.

[1:37] We’re going to talk today about how to actually process our emotions, step by step. Like how to actually process and alchemize — I love that word, alchemizing our emotions — so transforming our emotions into something else. I have been using that word so much lately, alchemize, I had to look it up because it’s so, it’s so magical, and, so according to the dictionary, alchemize is to transform the nature or properties of something by a seemingly magical process. And I love the idea of applying this to our emotional state.

[2:13] Processing our feelings, actually moving through our emotions as they come our way, so they don’t linger in the body, they don’t become tightness, they don’t become depression, they don’t become heaviness, but really exploring this new way of being, where we just like children can process and alchemize, turn around, shift, change magically our emotions into something else all throughout the day. I’m excited to get into this because it’s really a big theme in my own life, and I know for so many of us, we are dealing with such heavy things these days, and we could all use a little bit of help in terms of getting closer to that place of healing, and actually learning what to do with those heavy feelings when they come our way.

[2:58] So I’m going to share five specific steps that I’m using and practicing in my day-to-day life whenever I come across a challenging feeling to actually alchemize and process that emotion. But before we dive into that, how about we take a moment just to ground, just to breathe, so wherever you are at right now, so whether you’re sitting on a throne [laughs] or if you’re sitting on the couch, or in your car, or, you know, wherever you are — I always wonder if you’re listening to this when you’re commuting what it’s like to ground into this practice without closing your eyes. Promise me you’re not closing your eyes when you’re driving.

[3:35] But just letting yourself, throughout the meditation portion of this show, letting yourself really anchor into the breath. And having all of the components of the practice aside from closing the eyes, which is absolutely possible so it becomes more of a practice of mindfulness than anything else. So wherever you’re at, finding a comfortable space to be right now. And just right off the bat, noticing your level of energy in this moment, if you’re feeling very energized, or a little bit frantic maybe, a little bit hyper right now. And let yourself relax into the seat.

[4:15] Just soften, soften the shoulders, let the spine round, curl up, bring your knees to your chest, just whatever, whatever feels good. And if you’re feeling sluggish right now, or you’re feeling tired, or down, or low, in that case sit up really, really tall. Ground the sitbones into the earth, uncross your legs, bring the soles of the feet down to the floor, plant them there, and then see how long you can allow your spine to become right now. So let the crown of the head rise a little bit taller up to the sky, create space, and just sitting up tall in that way will create a little bit more alertness and also invite more energy into your body right now.

[4:58] So choose what you need. And then wherever you’re at, however you’re sitting right now, we’ll close the eyes if we can, and take a deep, full breath in [inhales]. Open the mouth, and let it go [exhales]. And then bring the breath back through the nose, inhales, exhales, just that steady, regular rhythm of your breath. And begin to bring all of your awareness to the body in this moment. And then right away, just notice what comes up for you, the moment you bring your awareness here, now. And some of us, we do that kind of practice all the time so it’s fairly easy, or it becomes like second nature, you know, to close the eyes and tune in, check in with the body, “how is my body in this moment?”

[5:56] But for some of us, it’s a, it’s a little bit foreign, or maybe a new practice, or we’re having that kind of day where it’s just hard to tune into the body, or it feels like we’re a little bit disconnected, which is totally okay, absolutely okay. And in that case, if you have a hard time finding the answer to that, you know, “how am I doing?” then place your hands to your body. You can place your hands to your heart, to your belly, to your legs, to your feet, just somewhere on your body, and then give yourself a little squeeze. Give yourself a little squeeze, it’s kind of like you’re greeting yourself, like you’re meeting yourself right now, just that opportunity to, to arrive.

[6:42] And then, return to that question, “how am I doing here, now? What does it feel like to sit here, to be here in this experience of being in my body? And also in this experience of being where I am in my life right now?” And then whatever answer comes up for you, just honoring that. Just give it a little more space. What this practice is about, this check-in, it’s not about trying to shift whatever hard thing you’re feeling into feeling good. It’s not about trying to make our way to peace, right? It’s not, it’s not the point; the point is to honor what you are experiencing right now, to validate your own emotion. And to just acknowledge that, “yeah, okay; this is where I’m at.”

[7:43] The thing about feelings is that when we try to change them, right? When we try to shift them into something else, what we do is we avoid them, right? We’re saying to ourselves that, “no, actually, this anxiety is bad, I don’t want this. This sadness, no I can’t deal. This frustration, ugh, it’s too much. Bring me back to happy,” and we bypass, you know? We avoid, we escape. Or we’re telling ourselves constantly that it’s not what we’re supposed to be feeling, we should be feeling something else.

[8:16] So it’s like we are denying ourselves our own experience all throughout the day, and that, my darling, is exhausting. Denying ourselves our own experience is the hardest thing of all. It creates so much pain, so much resistance, so much anguish within the body. So this practice here and now, it’s just honoring what’s already playing out. I love that, that Rumi quote about greeting each emotion as a guest, welcoming each to the table. So with that in mind, see if you can do that right now, just welcoming whatever is present, also if it is something challenging.

[9:08] If you’re feeling sadness right now, say hello. If you’re feeling anxious, if there’s anxiety in your body, welcome that anxiety. Say hi, acknowledge to yourself that, “okay, I’m feeling anxious. Okay. That’s what this is, hmm.” So rather than spending all day trying to avoid the edge of that feeling, or trying to find whatever magical solution will fix everything, just allow. Really give yourself that space to experience and feel what’s already moving inside of you. And then tell yourself, out loud or quietly inside of yourself, “it’s okay. It’s okay to feel what I’m feeling right now. It’s okay for me feel this way. It’s okay.”

[10:13] The moment I speak those words, I well up a little bit, I can cry, just that [sighs] speaking that validation out loud, I mean for all of us, it’s so precious because it’s really rare. We don’t really have a lot of people in our lives that tell us, “hey, it’s okay.” Even our most well-meaning friends and loved ones, of course it’s hard for them to see us going through challenging times, and they too want to fix what’s wrong, right? They want to turn that sadness into happiness, when most often what we really need is just to have someone there that tells us it’s okay for us to be the way we are.

[10:57] We are allowed to feel this way, you are allowed to have this experience the way it is. And everything you’re feeling right now makes absolute sense. There’s nothing wrong with you. There’s nothing wrong with you. There’s nothing wrong with you. Let’s take a deep, deep breath right into that place [inhales] open the mouth, and let it go [exhales]. So you can blink your eyes open.

[11:41 — Commercial Break]

[13:01] There’s nothing wrong with you, and it’s okay to feel what you’re feeling now. Man oh man, if that’s not the [laughs], the words I needed growing up, the words we all needed to hear growing up, probably what was missing for a lot of us growing up is exactly that. And I am resonating so deeply with this as a practice right now. And I wanna, wanna share a little bit about that. So I’ve had some really big realizations lately, a lot through therapy, and a lot in my own meditation practice, my own practice of getting up really early in the morning, and then sitting in silence. Having the first two hours of the day to myself for my own spiritual and sacred practice.

[13:50] And one of those big realizations have been just how badly I needed some sort of validation of my own emotions when I was little. And I believe this is true for so, so, so many of us. And I can even see it in my own parenting, in my own mothering, how it doesn’t come naturally to me, it’s not like second nature for me to constantly validate Lea’s feelings. But it’s actually something I have to take a breath, and I have to do, right? And the reason it’s not second nature to me is because I didn’t have that growing up. And I think for most of us, we didn’t have that growing up.

[14:30] And what does it mean to have our, our feelings validated? So, say, you know, when we’re little, whatever we are, whatever challenging thing comes our way, right? Whenever we are sad, or feeling heartbroken, or having a tantrum, or we’re angry, you know, something, something comes up, the automatic response that so many of us heard when we were little was, “stop crying,” right? How often did you hear that when you were little, “stop crying.”

[14:57] Or when something happened, say you fell and you cried, and someone rushes up to you and said, “it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay. Everything’s fine, everything’s fine. It’s not a big deal.” You know, someone brushes off, brushes you off a little bit and goes, “hey, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay. It’s, it’s fine. You’re not even bleeding, come on, get up, let’s keep going.” And those kinds of responses — and I really believe all of those kinds of responses came from the most loving place from all of our parents of course having grown up that same way. I don’t think any parent out there consciously makes an effort to, to deny their children’s experience, or to not validate their children’s emotions, it’s just, it’s just how we grow up, it’s just what we’re taught.

[15:38] But that as a habitual thing, to have every single time you’re crying to hear someone tell you, “stop crying,” or worse, right? Some of us grew up with parents telling us crying is a bad thing, or crying is a sign of weakness, or, you know, being punished for crying, I know a lot of people experience that. I had a lot of guilt in my family around crying, that crying was, meant you did something wrong, meant you had, you had to be guilty for something, that crying really meant that something was terribly, terribly wrong so you shouldn’t cry, right? That was, that was what I was taught growing up.

[16:13] And having that experience, you know, tells us really early on that crying is bad, right? That, that I shouldn’t cry, that whenever I feel those feelings of sadness, or whenever I have the urge to cry, I have to swallow it, I have to shove it deep, deep, deep down, and not show anybody. And also it tells us that, “oh, the experience that I’m having right now, that feeling that’s making me cry,” that that’s not real. That that’s not valid, that actually, it doesn’t make any sense. That actually, there’s something wrong with me because I, I want to cry right now,

[16:49] And this point, like this specific part, not just the, you know, how hard it is to be vulnerable, or us having a hard time feeling and showing our emotions, which we all, we all have that. But this specific part of not being validated in our own experience, and then taking that as, “something is wrong with me, right? I’m feeling angry, so something’s wrong. Feeling sad, so something’s wrong. This is not what t’s supposed to be.” That part, I realized on a, on a, on a really personal level is what has messed me up [laughs softly] more than, more than many of the big, traumatic things I experienced in my childhood. More than all the suicide attempts, and depression, and death, all that heavy, heavy stuff that I went through was that day-to-day not having a person in my life that, that had that emotional bandwidth, or the capacity to actually allow me to have my experience.

[17:45] So, because I had so many people in my life growing up who were in such a big emotional need, and I know so many of us have this, you know, of course, and this makes total sense, you know? It’s not like right now, as an adult — I’m 32 yeas old — having done all this work, I don’t have emotional needs anymore; of course we’re all going to have emotional needs all the time. But what it’s like, I think, to grow up in a family where you have parents that haven’t done that level of work, or haven’t had the support, or the safety net, or the tools, or the resources to do that kind of emotional work and that, that personal development work to grow and heal in that way, if you have a parent that has a massive emotional need that kind of takes over the emotional needs of everybody else, then it becomes extra inconvenient as a child to, to have emotions, right?

[18:39] So what I did having a mom who was, who was very sad, very depressed, suicidal all my life, you know, going through these big, big, big rollercoasters of emotions all the time, this feeling of, of having to walk on eggshells around this, this big emotional need, what it did to me was that every time I had a feeling, it was inconvenient for me to feel that feeling out loud. Because it would either detract from the bigger need in the family, which was the other person who was more depressed, or more sad, or more suicidal, or, you know, had a bigger, bigger emotional need, or louder, I guess, emotional need that was more visible, it made it really inconvenient for me to, to have feelings at all.

[19:23] And having a, another parent, my dad, who was really, still is to this day — I mean I love him, I love both my parents, of course, so much — but, you know, to this day, we can talk about this and laugh about this now because it’s such an evident thing, just isn’t an emotional person, you know? He has a hard time dealing with emotions of any kind and is quicker to go to anger than any other emotion, right? So having that whenever I would feel angry, or upset of, about something, I would be punished for that, you know, that there was something really wrong, like something’s wrong with me.

[19:55] And having those experiences when I was little where my feelings were really inconvenient, when there was no one there to just hold my hand, and kind of give me the space to just feel. Which is a luxury, and I’m realizing that now it shouldn’t be, because it’s the most basic human necessity of all. But in our world, in this society, just the way we are, it is a luxury to have, to have that kind of upbringing, because it’s not what the world looks like. And I’m, I’m hoping that we’re shifting and changing that now.

[20:25] But what it did when I was little, where, where I never had my feelings validated, and I didn’t have permission, or space, or that safe space to cry, to feel, you know, where there was someone else to just tell me, “hey, it’s okay. It’s okay to feel all of these things.” Where for me, feeling anything was scary; it was scary because feeling a lot of sadness maybe meant that someone was going to die, you know, it felt like panic. Feeling a lot of anger maybe meant that there was something violent coming, you know, it just wasn’t safe to feel.

[20:54] What it did was as I grew older, I started doing that to myself. And this is the tricky, the tricky and the amazing part about our childhood wounds, right? Because the most formative years that we have is, is the years from zero to seven, those first seven years of our lives are the years that shape us the most. So the things we experience then, even if it’s not heavy, heavy, you know, trauma with a big “t,” or whatever we want to call it, the day-to-day things that we, that we struggle with, the day-to-day things where we don’t have our needs met in those years, it’s going to shape who we are. And it’s going to shape how we treat ourselves as we become adults.

[21:36] So, I might just have had a short time, you know, I had a few, few years of my, my young childhood where things were really, really hard, right? Maybe, I’m going to say three to seven, or something like that, was like a really, really, really hard time in my life. And then I’ve had great, great years in my childhood too, you know? And also had, of course, my parents go through that kind of cycle of roller-coasting from hard times to good times, from feeling unstable to feeling stable, and, and, you know, doing different things in their parenting. And, and had great moments in my childhood as well, and great cycles, and beautiful times as well.

[22:14] But what happened because those needs weren’t met in those early, early years is I started doing it to myself, so didn’t really matter, unfortunately, what came after that, because I grew up to be this person who doesn’t know what it’s like to allow her own feelings. So even though, as I grew older, and as an adult, having people in my life now who validate me, having people in my life now who are there to support me no matter what, who can hold my hand, who can tell me it’s okay for me to be the way I am, it, it doesn’t make as big of an impact because I already have the programming inside where I deny my own experience.

[22:57] And that, for me, has been mind blowing. Mind blowing. It’s also shifted this feeling of blame that I realized that I’ve had for my parents for a long time, like they, they should have done better. They should have been better parents. They shouldn’t have, you know, been through all this heavy stuff, and, you know, shouldn’t have had so many kids if they couldn’t take care of them…like I’ve had this narrative in my mind of, “my parents didn’t do a good enough job.”

[23:21] But I’ve realized that the most formative time, the time that messed me up the most was these yeas of my life when everything was out of everyone’s control. You know, we had so many traumatic things happen, so many deaths, so many horrible things, and no tools, no resources, you know, no real support for either of my parents to navigate that. And those years happened to coincide with those formative years of my life, right? So then after that, when things became more stable, and things became more calm, I was already broken in that sense. And the things that, that were done to me, I was now doing to myself.

[23:58] And have continued to do to myself all throughout my life. And do to myself to this day. So this is a heartbreaking thing, because, you know, it’s this feeling of, “man, I, I, it really messed me up. Man, I wish, I wish had a different, I wish I had a different, I wish I was more supported, more help, more, you know…I wish I had more, more, more support when I was little.” But at the same time, the cool thing about this realization is the ball is in my court now.

[24:29] So instead of, you know, going around in this loop of blaming my parents, or thinking so much about the past, or how things could have or should have been different — because nothing’s going to change because it can’t, because it happened then — what happens is that I now have the control in terms of how I change the way I treat myself. So I don’t have to wait for anybody else to all of a sudden show up, you know, knight in shining armor and, and parent me, right?

[24:57] I don’t have to wait for my parents to all of a sudden go through these big moments of healing, or change their lives, or change how they are, because one: that’s a really unrealistic expectation, might never happen, probably is never going to happen [laughs] and two: the impact that I have in my own life in terms of how I treat myself in my day-to-day, that’s the game-changer right now. That’s, that’s everything.

[25:20 — Commercial Break]

[26:50] So, on a practical level, what this looks like, let me give you an example because maybe you’re going to resonate with this as well. I’m sharing just really personal examples now because of course, this is my own journey and what I [laughs] what’s easiest for me to share. But what I realized the pattern that I have in my day-to-day that messes me up more than anything else is when I feel a feeling that is bad — and I say bad with air quotes right now — a feeling that I have labelled as bad, so sadness, grief, frustration, fear, anger, resentment, jealousy, guilt, you know, any of those emotions that we have all, I think, labelled as bad, or hard, or things we should avoid, right? Which generally are the feelings that we never had validated, or never, that we were never taught how to process when we were little.

[27:39] Whenever one of those feelings come up for me, my immediate gut reaction is, “ooh, gotta change this. Ooh, let me, let me fix this. Ooh, let me figure this out.” Right away, whatever it is. And it’s this automatic thing where I feel sadness, and I start to orchestrate my day in ways in which how, how can I make myself feel better right now? And this is a natural thing, of course we’re all going to do this, but I have done this kind of under the guise of spirituality and yoga practice. And, as if it’s part of my, my evolving somehow, you know? “Ooh, I’m feeling, I’m feeling bad. I’m feeling, I’m feeling sad right now? Okay, let me go sit by the ocean, let me go to my yoga mat, let me call somebody, let me talk to Dennis about it, let me go take a walk, let me take a few really deep breaths,” you know, that’s like a go-to for me.

[28:31] And that’s a go-to for me that’s really positive, right? I mean if you have a hard time, have a hard feeling, take a few deep breaths, I mean that’s, that’s a genius, best thing ever, you know? At least it’s not like I’m grabbing a glass of wine, or doing drugs, or launching into reactivity, or drama, or, you know, using my pain to create pain for other people; like I’m taking deep breaths, that’s great.

[28:54] Well, [laughs] what I’ve realized now, I mean really recently, just in the past few weeks, is that my practice of those things, of all of those positive things, of all of those constructive things — the yoga, the meditation, the deep breaths, all those things — is me bypassing my own experience. It’s me denying my own experience. And I want to let that sink in a little bit, because this is such a big, big, big, big, big realization that, that I think for all of us, it really could change, could change our lives in a way if we could have this, this epiphany on our own.

[29:32] Every time we feel sad, or angry, or we feel bad in any way, and we turn to all of these amazing resources that we have, these amazing tools, we go into that cycle of, “okay, let me make myself feel better.” When we do that, we jump from that point to that point, we deny our own experience. We’re telling ourselves, “ooh, feeling sad, gotta make myself feel better. Let’s go to that thing that makes me feel better.” When actually, what we need when we feel sad, before we jump to those good practices that we need, because yes, of course, of course, you know — and I’m saying this smiling because it’s like, it’s like a ridiculous thing to say, “you shouldn’t take deep breaths, you shouldn’t do yoga, you shouldn’t meditate,” you know, all those things are things we should be doing in our day-to-day, of course — but before we jump to them, as our saving grace, as our saving thing, as our tool, we need to give ourselves the space to allow the feeling in the first place.

[30:32] We need to just give ourselves that moment, place our hand to our heart, take a moment before we jump into anything else, and go, “oh, what, what am I feeling right now? Wait a minute: I’m having an experience right now, and it’s making me feel a lot of things. What is that thing that’s happening inside of me?” And then to go, “oh, I’m sad. Okay. Feeling sad right now. I’m really sad right now. Oh, wait, let me take a moment with that. Wow. Okay.” And then what I like to do is “how is that sadness playing out in my body?” You know? “What does it feel like to be sad right now?” because we have these, you know, it’s easy to label things as sad, or angry, or happy, or joyful, but what is that experience actually like? What does it actually feel like?

[31:27] So I had that moment yesterday, I’ll give a really particular example: had a good day, really normal. Dennis went to go mountain biking in the afternoon, and I decided to go to the beach with Lea. And I had a moment on my phone, right before we went to the beach, where I don’t know what was going on, I can relate a lot of hard moments in my day to my phone, that’s also another [laughs] important realization. But had my phone, was, you know, doing something, and then we went to the beach, and as I’m driving to the beach, I start to feel anxious. I start to feel anxious.

[32:00] And I can’t pinpoint why, or where it’s coming from, or what it is. And I’m just driving, and I’m realizing, “okay, I’m feeling anxious,” so what do I do? I launch into talking to Lea about a bunch of stuff. And, and, you know, how is she doing, and let’s talk about school, and what are we going to do on the beach, and we brought our toys, and we’re going to have such a nice…and I just kind of can sense myself going into this kind of frantic talking to her about a lot of stuff.

[32:25] And then we get to the beach, and my anxiety’s just building, it’s just rising. But I’m, I’m at the beach. The sun is setting, everything is beautiful, my daughter’s there, I’m safe, we’re fine, you know, I don’t have that big reason as to why am I anxious. And we go swimming, and I sit down, and I start to breathe, and I go through this whole cycle of like, basically looping a little bit in terms of, “oh, my God, I’m anxious; I don’t want to be anxious. Oh, my God, I’m anxious; I shouldn’t be anxious. Oh, my God, I’m anxious, something’s wrong with me, because I’m anxious.”

[33:00] You know what I mean? Because everything is fine around me, because I don’t have an emergency, a trauma, a crisis, I go into this cycle of, “something is wrong with me, so I have to fix it and change it,” and then I start trying all of these different things. When actually, it’s that is the root cause of why my anxiety goes from just anxiety, a moment of that, to really bad, right? I spiral into that place where something is wrong with me, so my anxiety gets worse, and worse, and worse, and worse.

[33:32] And then I catch that. I go, “oh wait, I’m doing that thing again where I’m denying my feeling, where I’m telling myself there’s something wrong, right? Something is wrong with me, or I wouldn’t be feeling this way.” So I take a moment, Lea is playing, collecting shells, like she’s fine, and I’m just closing my eyes, I put my hand to my heart, and I tell myself, in my brain — if I was alone and not in a public space, I would tell myself out loud, like if I was home alone — and I tell myself, “I am feeling anxious right now. Okay. I am feeling anxious right now. Okay. I can feel this anxiety in my body right now. Okay. Where is the anxiety in my body?” And I just track that for a moment; “where is it? Where can I feel this feeling? Okay.”

[34:23] And then I name the feeling, it feels like something is unsettling, and the feeling is in my stomach. I feel this cool sensation, almost like a little electric current of, of, of ice at the very pit of my stomach, and it doesn’t feel good. It feels, it feels uneasy, it makes me feel like I can’t sit still, it makes me feel jittery, this cool, electric current, heavy in the pit of my stomach; that’s what this anxiety feels like right now.

[34:53] And I take a moment just with that practice of telling myself what the feeling is, allowing that feeling for myself, validating to myself the way I would with Lea, exactly the same way I do with Lea when she’s sad, or when she’s angry, so I validate that feeling, but I do it to myself. And I find that doing it out loud when I’m alone — because of course, it’s a slightly, slightly wild thing to do in public — but when I’m doing it alone and I tell myself, “oh okay, I’m anxious right now. Okay, it really feels like I’m anxious. Okay, that’s what this feels like, yeah. And hey, it’s okay to feel anxious. Yeah, it’s okay.”

[35:33] And I treat myself the way I treat my daughter, right? It’s kind of like I’m speaking to my inner child, and I’m just telling myself, “this is what the feeling is,” naming the feeling, tracking the feeling in my body, and then validating that feeling. “It’s okay.” And before I know it, that anxiety goes away. It’s not like, you know, it’s not like I’m snapping my fingers and it’s gone in one moment, but it just kind of ebbs away, you know? And then before I know it, there’s a new moment and I’ve forgotten that I was anxious in the first place, because that anxiety just kind of ebbed away.

[36:07] And then we’re having a nice moment in the nice sunset, and then I drive home and the moment’s gone, right? So that’s an example of what this looks like in practice. And what happens when we spend all of our day denying our experience, any time where we have a hard time, a sad time, an angry time, you know, whatever comes our way, and we don’t validate that for ourselves, what we do is we add this whole other layer of heaviness, and struggle, and pain on top of that hard feeling in the first place.

[36:40] So it becomes almost impossible [laughs] I mean it becomes almost impossible to navigate this world. And I would love to invite you to take a moment just for yourself to see if this is a practice that you actually have in your day-to-do. Because chances are that you do, right? Because we do to ourselves what was done to us when we were little. And this is the hardest thing and the most amazing thing, because it means you have the power to change it. It’s not that all the power is in the hands of the people who shaped us when we were little, because it’s not, that moment is gone. And what’s left is the pattern that you have within yourself.

[37:16] I would love for you to practice this in your day-to-day life, especially if you are deeply entrenched in this habit of denying yourself your own experience. If you had these kinds of experiences when you were growing up, if you know that you’re struggling with actually feeling your feelings, allowing your feelings, processing your emotions, and if you feel stuck in them in any way, you know; if you have those kinds of experiences where you’re almost scared to go into sadness because it makes it feel like you’re going to be sad forever, or you’re scared of being angry because it feels like you’re going to open the door to anger and just never, never come out again, you know?

[37:57] And that’s usually the feeling that we have when we have been denying our feelings for a long time because we’re, we’re bottling a lot of these things up. And it’s very hard to move through our day-to-day in denial of our own experience. And I really think the key to feeling good in our lives, the key to well-being, the key to freedom, is to allow what is to be. And I say that on that deep spiritual level of what’s happening inside of ourselves. It’s absolutely the opposite of, you know, that spiritual kind of, that silly spiritual saying of, “it is what it is, everything happens for a reason,” which is not the case at all.

[38:41] Doesn’t mean that we stay in shitty situations when things are bad, or we stay in abusive relationships, or that we just allow people to treat us any other way, “it is what it is, so I gotta stay in this crappy place,” not at all. But it is what it is in a sense of allowing what is moving inside of us to actually unfold, to not deny our inner experience. We can deny all the bad things that happen in the world; we can deny and say, “no, thank you,” to all the injustice, all those things that we don’t want our way, and we should, but what happens inside of us, that we need to allow, because it’s our experience, right?

[39:22] So especially if you have faced injustice, or betrayal, or abuse, and all those feelings that you have inside relating to that, right, part of our healing is allowing that to be processed and alchemized so we can let it go. So that frustration, because of the injustice that you’re feeling, allowing that frustrating, you know? Letting yourself be fucking angry when you’re angry. Letting yourself melt into sadness when you’re sad. So, I have five specific steps if you wanna practice this in your day-to-day, I actually broke it down because this is something I’m really catching myself in and doing all throughout the day, and it’s really changing my life.

[40:04] So, I’m calling it “Five Steps to Process Your Emotions.” Number one, the very, very first thing that we have to do is pause, right? Pause, to stop. Because we end up going into these frantic places of trying to change something, trying to fix something, you know, just the way I tried to do yesterday: oh, but I’m at the beach, so if I, if I just go for a swim I’ll feel better. Or if I talk to my daughter, I’ll feel better, or if I take deep breaths, you know, we go into that place of becoming very jittery, trying to fix, trying to change, trying to improve something. So just to pause, that’s the first, first, first thing; give ourselves that moment of closing the eyes, putting your hand to your heart, and just pausing where you are. That’s step number one.

[40:51] Number two is to notice the feeling. So once you are in that quiet place of just pausing to notice, to bring your awareness inward, and to notice what is unfolding, to give yourself that space to go, “hey, hey. What’s actually happening inside of me right now?” Noticing the feeling.

[41:31] Number three: name the feeling. And this is really, really helpful. And I found this, this part when I started doing this to myself almost a little bit silly in the beginning, like, “I’m an adult, I know what feelings are, I don’t have to name the feeling.” I do it with Lea because it works, right? When she’s sad, I’ll tell her, “hey, looks like you’re a little bit sad right now, I can tell that you’re feeling sad,” I focus on naming that word, right? So naming the feeling, it’s for our own inner child, right? It’s just to get into that primal place of acknowledging what this feeling is, so to go, “oh, I’m feeling sad right now. This is sadness. It’s sadness that I’m experiencing in this moment,” if sadness is what it is, right? So naming the feeling, “I’m angry. I’m anxious. I’m sad. What is the feeling?” And put a name, a label to it.

[42:06] Step number four: track the feeling in your body. So really just notice, you know, with your eyes closed for a moment, “okay, so I’m feeling sad, where in the body is the sadness? What does it feel like, you know? Is it moving in my, my hands and my feet? Can I sense something in my legs? Is it in my shoulders, my chest, my throat, my jaw, my belly, my heart, my head,” you know; really a feeling can express itself and be felt in any part of the body at any time. What does it feel like? What’s the temperature of the feeling; is it hot, is it cold? What’s the sensation? Can you try to describe it and actually put words to it? And this is something that’s really, really, really helpful in terms of calming and settling the nervous system, to track it in the body and to actually put words to where that feeling is.

[43:02] Step number five is to validate the feeling. Just the way you would with a child, right? To validate the feeling, to tell yourself, quietly to yourself, or out loud, “it’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to feel angry. I’m allowed to feel my feelings. It’s okay.” Right? The validation of the feeling is really what kind of brings this full circle, and it’s that, that integration of, “hey, there’s nothing wrong with me.” And that’s the point that we really need to start hammering into our own heads; there’s nothing wrong with us. There’s nothing wrong with you. And telling ourselves that, and telling ourselves that the same way we would tell a child. It’s like you’re telling your own inner child, “there’s nothing wrong with you, it is okay. You are allowed to feel this way.”

[43:57] And what it does, the magic of these five steps, is while you are processing an emotion right now, alchemizing an emotion right now, time is not linear. I like to think of time, it’s like all of the experience that we’ve ever had in our lives, they’re folded together all on top of each other. When you heal something now, when you process, and validate, and feel your feelings right now, you are processing and validating and feeling and healing what was then.

[44:31] I got goosebumps saying that because it’s so fucking true. The things you didn’t have when you were little, the needs you didn’t have met, you can meet those needs right now, and it will heal what’s hurting from back then. And that’s the beauty of this work, right? You can actually heal now, and it will translate ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty, fifty years ago, and all of a sudden, it’s not going to be just kind of overnight where you realize, “wow, everything is fixed now,” but all of a sudden, those wounds that felt really open? They’re not going to be as triggered any more. Those patterns that you had where just the same thing kept coming into your life again and again? All of a sudden, you’re going to see less of that. All of a sudden, you’re going to start talking less about that trauma, or, you know, watching in your mind how you jump into that panic that’s left from that trauma; all of that, it’s just going to start happening less and less and less when you’re less reactive, less triggered, and feel more and more steady.

[45:32] So it’s this incremental process where you actually have the opportunity to do this all throughout the day for yourself. And I think it’s wild how many of us are parents and we’re doing this for our kids now — that was a big eye-opener for me, it’s how I’m doing this with Lea, I have done this with Lea since she was born, and it’s been one of those things where it’s been, it’s been so important for me. It’s been this most important parenting skill of mine, that I validate her feelings.

[46:01] And I’ve realized that the reason it is so urgent and so important for me to do that for her, is because I was missing it so deeply for myself. I was missing it then, when I was little, but I was still missing it now [laughs], and that’s the part that I really didn’t get. I was really stuck in, “I was missing it then, so I have to give it to her,” and I missed that hugely important puzzle piece of, “I have the ability to give this to myself now. Whoa. Hey,” you know, “why am I spending all day with my child, you know, validating her feeling, giving her space to feel.”

[46:41] Like she’s a really emotionally mature three year old; like she’ll tell me, “mom, I’m feeling angry right now. I’m going to go be angry in my room for a little while.” Or she’ll ask her friends at school,” hey, it looks like you’re sad. What do you need?” She asks her friends what they need, you know? [Laughs] And she’ll say sometimes, “I need some privacy, I need some space.” Whenever she’s feeling anything, “I’m feeling scared. I’m feeling frustrated. I’m feeling angry.” It’s this second nature to her to name her feeling, and to give herself space to feel that feeling.

[47:12] And oftentimes, I mean at some point every single day, she tells me, “it’s okay momma.” She will sometimes notice, “momma, are you upset right now? It looks like upset.” or she’ll say, “are you upset, or are you just nervous?” [Laughs] And then I’ll go, “oh, actually I’m a little upset.” “Okay, you’re upset. It’s okay to be upset mom.” [Laughs] So, she’s mirroring this back to me, right, but I haven’t been able to fully do it for myself, like it’s just…it’s, it’s just so fucking beautiful, you know? And it’s all unfolding the way it is; it’s like we didn’t have that need met when we were little, we grow up, we become parents with this huge need to fill that need for our own kids, right? And then in meeting our kids’ needs, our kids learn how to meet that need for us. And we can open our eyes to the fact that we are not doing it for ourselves.

[48:09] I mean…I have goosebumps again, it’s like the fullest circle, most complete, beautiful process of all time. It’s all unfolding the way it’s supposed to unfold, like your healing journey, it’s messy, it’s hard, it’s horrible, and so many times it doesn’t make sense, but there is this intelligence involved. There is this genius at play all the time. Trust me when I say that, it’s like all of these things are unfolding for you to get to where you’re supposed to go. And I say this from this internal standpoint, that you have the tools right now to, to give yourselves the things that you actually need.

[48:49] And we have to start parenting ourselves the way we parent our own kids, meeting our own needs first. And I think these five steps to processing our emotions, I think it's a really, really, really great way to start. It's something you can actually write down in your journal; have a little Post-It like, “here are the five steps,” just write it down somewhere so you can catch it super easily, or write it in your phone, you know? Pause. Notice. Name. Track. Validate. Pause, notice the feeling, name the feeling, track the feeling in the body, and then validate the feeling. Pause, notice, name, track, validate; I mean man [laughs] I feel like it's a good recipe to just take into those challenging moments, because the last thing we really need when things are hard is to make it harder on ourselves, and so many of us do, and we do it so often.

[49:45] So I want to take a, just a breath right now [laughs]. Let's take a full inhale [inhales] and a full exhales [exhales]. I’m smiling really big because in this moment, from my own personal, personal journey, I can just…deeply in my core feel how all of it is making sense. Even the hardest parts of my life, the hardest pats of this year, strangely, magically, it's perfect. Right now. Right now, it feels perfect.

[50:25] I hope you have a beautiful week, and I say beautiful week meaning a week where you allow yourself to be the way you are. A week where you allow your own experience, where you allow your feelings. And when you can move through your day-to-day and actually be the way you are, that's how we find wellbeing, you guys. That's really it [laughs]. And you can start right now.

[50:52] Thank you so, so much for tuning in. I want to just, before I jump off, say that we have the three hundredth Yoga Girl Daily episode this week, which is crazy. If you want little mini snippets of this kind of practice every single day, Monday through Friday, I release a five minute episode on the Yoga Girl Daily show with meditations, with inquiries, contemplations, journalling, gratitude practices, self-care tips, just those little bite-sized moments that are actually really helpful if you are going through a hard time or having a hard day, to just have those little moments where you can drop into the body if you need a little bit of extra help, which we all do sometimes. So go tune in over there as well. Thank you so much for listening, Yoga Girl podcast will be back next week.

[51:42 — End of Episode]