The Primary Feeling Can Motivate You

Do you feel stuck? Are there areas of your life that stay the same despite the fact you want to change? Do you wonder why you just can’t get over the hurdles and make your life different?

Your emotions may be what’s holding you back from being the person you really want to be. When I work with people, I commonly ask them to identify feelings in their life. To simplify the task, I encourage them to reduce their emotions to five basic feelings:

  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Happiness
  • Fear
  • Loneliness

With small children I make it easier and ask them to identify them by the following:

  • Mad
  • Sad
  • Glad
  • Afraid
  • Lonely

Since the first three rhyme, kids can easily remember the “famous five feelings”.

I teach clients that any emotion can be reduced to any of these “famous five feelings”. The difficult task is asking clients to pick the predominant feeling. Oftentimes they complain that they feel several feelings at one time. I then ask them to identify the feeling that is the most uncomfortable for them. Women typically feel sadness when the real feeling is anger. Men typically report anger when the uncomfortable feeling is generally fear or sadness.

Is there an area where you feel personally stuck? Take a few moments and think of a situation that is problematic. Which feeling is primarily generated when you think of this situation? The three feelings that stop people from moving through their issues are typically anger, fear and sadness. It is imperative that you know what feeling is really immobilizing you. Once you have identified the feeling it will motivate you to take care of yourself differently.
Let’s look at some examples:

1. A woman is betrayed by her husband who has had an affair. She feels sad and depressed and yet when she sits with the feelings she realizes she is angry that he cheated on her. She can no longer trust him. This woman needed to feel anger instead of sadness. It gave her adrenaline to start working on how she was going to recover from the betrayal. Staying stuck in the sadness left her feeling lethargic. It kept her in the victim role.

When she got in touch with the anger she set boundaries. She told her husband what he needed to do to rebuild the partnership and she set aside time specifically to look at what she needed if she was going to become a single mother with children. She used the anger to energize her into taking better care of herself, which meant she started playing tennis and attending church more regularly.

2. An employee has been through the downsizing process at work. He is 54, has worked for the company for eighteen years and expressed genuine anger at being dispensable. As he sat with his feelings he found that fear was actually his primary feeling. He worried that he wouldn’t be able to find a job. He feared that it would alter his family’s lifestyle. He was afraid his friends would look at him differently.

When he looked at his fears, he was able to use techniques to rebuild his confidence and look at his life differently. He decided he would pursue real estate and buy low-income properties. He worked his budget and refinanced his assets and two years later he is financially solvent, pursuing a dream that became a reality by default. His fear helped him to deal with his potential.

Don’t let your feelings confuse you. Identify them and use them to activate you.

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