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Emotional Alchemy

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By Jillian Teta

In our fast-paced, institutionalized, ever-changing world, we are constantly inundated with messages and “lessons” about how we should be doing more, being more productive, sacrificing our time and sanity for others, and to above all, don’t value yourself, because there is always something else that you could do (or buy) to be better.

Generally speaking, living day to day like that has the ability to create feelings of guilt, inadequacy and fear, which can then blossom into anger, anxiety, irritability or depression. How could it not?

Negative emotions and stress are a part of life. Ideally, they are transient and we can learn from them and grow from them. But what about when we don’t? What about when the stress and negativity become chronic, and we have less and less moments of clarity and joy, and more feelings of guilt, resentment or being rushed? In all of my work with people of all ages and fitness statuses, this is the thread that runs through us all: we can easily become overwhelmed with negative emotions, and we don’t know how to get out.

So we stew, and we blame, and we judge, and we think others or “things” are the source of our problems – or that our happiness lies with us achieving some goal, or weight, or partnership, or dollar sign. And we stew and can become frantic, or we stew and lose ourselves.

The negativity we feel inside becomes the lens through which we view the world. We perceive the world as how we feel about ourselves. So, if there are pieces or parts of ourselves that feel bad, and we want to feel better, what can we do?

  1. Sometimes we need to do nothing. Literally. This is called being in the moment, this is called being present. When we are present and in the moment, we are in complete synchrony and harmony with “what is”, and we can be completely available for whatever comes our way. When things present themselves as you are in the moment, because you are right there, the perfect action comes easily and effortlessly.
  2. Create what you want. If you are a follower of JillFit, you know that we talk about this a lot. Creating what you want means that you are making a conscious choice to live your life in congruence with your goals, doing the actions necessary to support getting what you want. If one seeks body change, one eats the appropriate foods and eats the appropriate ways to support that. If one seeks happiness, one must create and embrace that happiness from within.
  3. Draw boundaries. This means knowing when to say “no”, and knowing when to say “yes”. We often will “feel bad” if we say no to someone or something, thinking that we are somehow being insulting. Yet, if you say “yes” when you really mean “no”, who are you insulting then? We like to talk about the concept of the “honest no”. Although it can be difficult, saying no in a kind and respectful way is more honest and feels better than forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do.
  4. Choose positivity over negativity. Always. This is the key to emotional alchemy – to the transformation of a leaden, negative state to one that can gleam with gold. If someone is rude to you – great – smile and turn away. If someone is annoying you – great – thank them for who they are, because they have a lesson to teach you. The flashes of anger, annoyance, resentment are little alarm bells letting us know where we are stuck and need to work on things. So ask yourself, “what is this triggering in or about me that I am reacting this way”. Look for the lesson, and take the evermore emotionally rewarding road of using kindness, gratitude and introspection over lashing out, sarcasm, and seeking to hurt others.

Something that I have learned is that we are all on the same boat, literally and figuratively. We have to really ask ourselves how we’d like to live our lives, and if we are living them the way we would like them.

Related: Are we our own worst enemy?

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