It seems to me that as human beings; we are always seeking a feeling. What is the feeling you are seeking? Is it happiness, peace or freedom? Do you want to feel calm more of the time? Being able to feel calm, despite the fact there may be a storm going on around me is my ideal state of mind. Is that what you are seeking too? If it is, this blog is for you.
Where it looks like our feelings come from
Let’s start with a question.
Where do you think your feelings are coming from?
You might have noticed that it looks like there is a rule about that. It seems that your feelings are coming from your circumstances but you have been learning that rule since you were small. Here a bit about how. Do you remember your mum standing at your bedroom door, telling you how angry you were making her?
You hadn’t tidied your bedroom or you had done something else wrong.
This happened time and time again. You got told that you were making the people around you feel a certain way. You started to learn that and then you saw evidence it was true all around you. It also happened when you felt things yourself.
As a child, you had situations you were unhappy about. As you cried, there was that well-meaning, beautiful reassurance from a parent who would tell you, ‘You feel better once it is over’.
So that’s another place you learnt that circumstances cause feelings. There were many more of these situations as you grew up but also in adulthood. How many times do you hear in the news that some situation is stressful or traumatic or even happy? Circumstances create feelings is the equation we have learnt. Read on if you are ready to start questioning this. It is your first step to feel calm more of the time.
An inconsistent equation which makes it harder to feel calm
Have you noticed that there are inconsistencies in the circumstances create feelings equation?
You may have observed that you can feel a certain way about something, but that other people don’t feel the same way. Something that you find fun and exciting may be stressful for someone else and visa versa. You may also have noticed that how you are feeling can vary whilst your circumstances stay the same.
A situation which exemplifies both these is work.
Let’s say, you are in a job you don’t like. If you believe circumstances create feelings the job is making you feel bad. So how does that explain the person you work alongside who feels calm and happy at work? They are doing the same job as you, but they are feeling very different.
Understand your variable state of mind if you want to feel calm
Also, you might have noticed how your state of mind varies throughout the week. The job is exactly the same on Friday afternoon but your mood is better than on Monday morning. The circumstances don’t change. Your boss is still annoying, you still have a very full inbox and your workload is still gigantic. But as Friday afternoon starts, you notice that your mood is lifting. Your circumstances haven’t changed at all. Not one little bit. Everything that earlier on in the week you thought made you feel stressed is still there. And yet you feel okay.
And you may have also noticed the flip-side of this. I remember this very well when I was a head teacher. That Sunday night feeling when you start to stress about work. You are not at work. You are sat on the sofa watching TV. But your mind is on work and you start to feel those familiar stressful feelings. You can end up on Sunday evening, feeling as stressed, as you do by Wednesday lunchtime. So, the circumstance isn’t happening, and yet you are experiencing that feeling.
An experiment with feelings
There’s an interesting experiment I’ve done with groups of people in workshops. It shines a light on how one circumstance can create a range of feelings. In the workshops, I share three pieces of music with the group. Whilst listening to the music, I ask them to write how they are feeling in the chat. You can see the range of responses I get in the image below!
Interested to see how you respond? You can play the tracks in the video and see how you feel.
Can you see that there’s something other than the music creating feelings? If a single piece of music can create such a range of feelings in humans, what does that mean about the rest of life?
There’s something else playing a part in human feelings.
Are you wondering what that could be? As you wonder, I would love you to start to consider how this is playing out in your own life. Take this as an invitation to get curious. Where can you see that you are feeling a different way about a circumstance to someone else and that your feelings vary even when the circumstance stays the same?
A little experiment to help you feel calm
One fun place where you can watch this playing out with other people is watching a movie. I cry at lots of things in movies (menopausal woman alert). Yet, I often notice that I am crying whilst the people I am sat with are laughing. Or sometimes I’ll be afraid, and the other people are not bothered. Isn’t that interesting? There’s one thing on a screen. One lot of acting, sound effects and story but the response of people can be so variable.
An invitation to get curious about feeling calm
What I’m inviting you to do is to start getting curious about how this is playing out in your life. I don’t mean fall into a rabbit hole, judging your feelings as right or wrong. I mean notice your human experience playing out in life.
Notice the variability of your feelings and those around you and have fun doing it.
Enjoy noticing how your circumstances do not create your feelings.
Remain open to see something new about where your feelings do come from.
Come from an energy of, ‘Oh, that’s interesting’, not, ‘Oh, that’s awful. I shouldn’t be doing that’.
As you begin this exploration, please keep an open mind.
If you are ready to see more, you can click here: 21 Days to Feel Calm & Think Clearly