Feeling overwhelmed? Change where you are looking.
One of the things clients most often want to talk about early in psychotherapy is how they can get into a better relationship with their feelings. It may be that feelings are overwhelming, or unpredictable, or that they sometimes feel out of control.
In this series I will present a number of tools and techniques that you can use to begin to engage differently with your feelings. Feelings are messages, letting us know about something our system wants us to pay attention to. In this way, symptoms are trying to help, its just their approach is outdated and for your needs now, misguided.
These tips are ways of learning to make space for, and contain, the way you feel, so that the message can be received, and the intensity of the experience can ebb away. Not every tip will fit for everyone, the trick is experimenting, finding things that resonate for you, and making them your own.
Tip #1 - Change where you are looking
When you are feeling your feelings intensely, its often the case that you are looking down, towards your body. You may even be curled up and hunched, as if you were protecting yourself. The problem is, if you look down, you make your experience of your body more intense.
Try this exercise:
1. Look down and tune into your body. Take a few moments to notice what you are feeling, the body sensations, and the emotions. Also notice what is running through your head - your self-talk.
2. Now, look up. Again taking a few moments, notice what happens when you look away from your body, up at the ceiling or the sky.
Looking up, to where we tend to visualise in our mind's eye, can lessen the intensity of the way you experience your body. It won't take you from 10 to 0, but it may well knock the edge off and take you from 10 to 7.
Watch out for more tips in the coming weeks to combine with this one. In the meantime, happy cloud gazing!