Emotional editing is when you dismiss and block the emotion you are feeling because it's either too painful, you're too busy to process it or you feel you don't have the right to feel that way.
How often do you or those close to you say, 'I know I shouldn't feel this way...'
How many times have you heard 'YOU shouldn't feel that way?'
What we learn in our society is not how to work with our emotions, but how to block and avoid them. Thwarting emotions is not good for mental or physical health. It’s like pressing on the accelerator and brakes of your car at the same time, creating an internal pressure cooker.
This is still a work in progress for me. I realised a few years ago through studying coaching and in
particular Cognitive Behaviour Therapy methods, that I had been editing my emotions. I had always seen emotions such as guilt, fear, anger, resentment as ‘bad’ emotions and pointless. However, I realised that as a human being, I was going to have these emotions and if I continued to dismiss them, I would be like that pressure cooker. I was internalising a great deal of feelings and they were all bursting to come out.
It's important to know there are no negative emotions. All emotions are valid. It's how we deal with them that's vital for our wellbeing.
When I look back at my childhood, both at home and school, I find it difficult to list the emotions I was permitted to have. Happy, but not too happy! I was often told to stop laughing as I'll end up crying. That's pretty warped. Sad? Get over it! Angry? You are wrong to feel this way. Embarrassed? What a pointless emotion! Push it down. Erase it. Consequently, I didn’t acquire a vast lexicon for my emotions until well into my 30s. Have a look at the wheel below:
I would have found this incredibly useful as a child and as an adult. If I was going to shade in the emotions I was allowed to have or allowed myself to have as an adult, there wouldn’t be much shading. Except for when I was drunk. It all came flying out then……!
To say that I epitomised a pressure cooker in my 20s and 30s is an understatement.
As a parent, I am incredibly patient with my two boys. My eldest (7) is quite sensitive whereas my youngest (4) is quite robust. But, my youngest finds it difficult to cope with his emotions. He screams and cries when he doesn't get what he wants. But because we give him a hug and tell him it's OK to be upset and we understand he is disappointed, he is now able to tell us he 'can't stop crying'. I need to use this wheel with my boys because I know if my vocabulary around feelings are limited, it will also restrict their language.
This image below is useful when I'm coaching clients who are not used to acknowledging their emotions. Identification and acceptance can be a new but revolutionary experience. It was for me. Following the RAIN method can have an impact not only on your mental and physical health but also with your closest relationships too.
R: You could possibly use the wheel (above) to help you recognise what emotion you may be feeling. I would also suggest saying it out loud.
A: Acceptance is so important. Yes, I'm feeling angry and that's ok.
I: Notice how this emotion is physically affecting you. My hands are shaking, my chest feels tight, my jaw is clenched.....
N: You are not your emotions. This emotional state is impermanent. I am angry, my jaw is clenched, my heart is beating fast, my hands are shaking, I'm angry, (breathe) angry, (breathe) angry. By the last word I am usually calm again.
I’m in my late 40s now. I’m much better at stopping, noticing, reflecting and acknowledging my emotions. As a result, my closest relationships are stronger. I no longer accept anyone telling me how to feel. They are not me. They don't have the right to dismiss or dictate my feelings. Actually, come to think of it, I won't let myself dismiss or edit my own emotions or anyone else's. I feel how I feel. It's how I deal with those emotions that's important.
If you'd like a complimentary 30 minute #coaching session to discuss some of the above, do get in touch.