Difference between feeling emotions and wallowing in them

What’s the difference between feeling your emotions and wallowing in them?

Difference between feeling emotions and wallowing in themWe all have times when we experience ‘negative’ emotions.

The thing with emotions is that they all serve a purpose…they are there for a reason. All emotions…the good, the bad and the sometimes very ugly.

That’s the reason I put the word ‘negative’ in inverted commas…because we only perceive them as negative…they actually serve a positive purpose when we allow them to.

In our culture these days, when we experience ‘negative’ emotions we have a tendency to want to distract ourselves from experiencing them. We want to avoid, ignore or bury them…or simply pretend that they don’t exist.

We’ve a plethora of ways to distract ourselves from our emotions…eating, shopping, drinking, drugs, losing ourselves in TV or movies, or burying ourselves in work.

But as I’ve talked about in several articles, these emotions exist for a reason…in order for them to serve their purpose we need to experience them.

They are there to help us to process our experiences, to move through them, learn from them, grow from them…and if we don’t acknowledge and experience these emotions they tend to hang around.

They bubble under the surface and when we least expect it (and often when it is least convenient) they pop up and bite us in the butt.

So in order to release these emotions, we need to first experience them, we need to feel the emotions fully in order to let them go.

But a question I’ve heard many times when this subject comes up is “How do I tell the difference between feeling the emotions to process them and let them go, and wallowing in them?”

This is such a fantastic question…and one that is so valuable to know the answer to that I wanted to write today’s article to share this vital insight with you.

We’ve all wallowed at times.

Those times when we’ve experienced something that has brought up a ‘negative’ emotion…it could be sadness, pain, hurt, anger, shame, grief, rejection – any ‘negative’ emotion.

BUT we don’t want to move through it, we don’t want to release it we WANT to be in it.

We want to just be in the negative emotion, we don’t want to move, we just want to sit there.

Doing nothing, changing nothing, just being in it.

But why?

Why would we want to voluntarily stay in an emotion that doesn’t feel good?

The reason is that in the short term, we can actually seem to gain a lot by being in it….though we may not be consciously aware of it.

When we’re in a ‘bad’ space, there can be ‘benefits’ to it.

In an increasingly numb culture, this is a moment where we’re really feeling something, we feel connected to ourselves and to our emotions in a way that most of us don’t in our day-to-day lives.

We get sympathy from and connection to other people…when we’re not feeling great we often get friends, family or colleagues reaching out to us to give us support. They want to be there for you, comfort you, help you to feel better – often in a way that we don’t experience when we’re not in this kind of space.

This kind of attention makes us feel important, makes us feel special, makes us feel significant…in a way that we might not be used to feeling the rest of the time.

We might use feeling this way as an excuse for not doing things that we’d prefer to avoid…for having some downtime, taking a break, and allowing yourself to breathe a bit and have some time for you. In our hamster-wheel-like lives, we don’t allow ourselves to do this often enough…and so having a reason to do it can feel quite good.

…or we can use it as an excuse for doing the things that we don’t believe we ‘should’ do, but a part of us would really like to. We use feeling bad as a reason for maxing out our credit cards, finishing off an entire chocolate cake, or downing a bottle of wine.

So while we might not be consciously aware of the benefits of being in our ‘negative’ emotions…subconsciously we can bet getting a lot out of it, so we can begin to indulge in it, to subconsciously choose to stay in it, to wallow.

So what’s the problem with wallowing in our ‘negative’ emotions?

If we’re getting so many benefits from being in our ‘negative’ emotions, then what’s the problem?

Well the simple answer is that it’s a short-term gain, which costs us in the long term.

You see processing the emotions, feeling them fully in order to release them gives a short term pain (of feeling fully the emotions that are there) …but which enables us to get a huge long-term benefit…i.e. that we get to completely release these emotions, learn from them, grow from them and move on without taking the baggage of the past with us.

On the other hand, wallowing gives us a short-term gain (the benefits of us being in our negative emotion), but because we’re not feeling the emotions to release them, we’re indulging in them to get these benefits, we never actually get the REAL benefit of being able to let them go and move on to create a life free of this baggage. Instead we end up carrying it all with us all the time, which in the long-term is draining and very unfulfilling.

So how can you tell the difference between processing emotions and wallowing? The point at which you feel that you’re getting more from being in your ‘negative’ emotion than from processing and releasing it is the point at which you’re wallowing. When being in pain is subconsciously ‘worth it’ because of the benefits we get from being there.

The danger with wallowing is that so often that we’re unaware of the fact that we’re doing it. The choice is happening at a subconscious level…not a conscious one.

So how can we avoid the pitfall of wallowing in emotions?

The only way to avoid the pitfall of wallowing is to use awareness and choice.

Becoming aware of whether you are processing or indulging in your ‘negative’ emotions is the first step towards shifting it.

So simply asking yourself the question “Am I feeling this emotion to process and release it, or to indulge in it?” and answering it honestly puts you in a position of choice.

When you’re aware of where you’re at, you can then choose whether or not to stay there…asking yourself “Do I want the short term benefit, or the long term gain?” can be an important question when you want to make a powerful choice of what you want for yourself.

And do you want to know what’s really great about choosing to process your emotions and release them rather than wallow in them?

You actually still get the short-term benefits when you’re in it, feeling the emotions in order to then release them…but they’re not enough to keep you there, you know you want more for yourself…

…SO you also get the long-term benefit of being able to put down the baggage you’ve been carrying with you and move on to create a lighter and more fulfilling life as well!

So it’s win-win!

So the next time you find yourself feeling something you’d rather not be feeling, ask yourself the question, “Am I processing this, or am I wallowing in it?” and see which choice you’d really like to make.

Stay Fabulous,

Claire x

Do you share your shame?

Feminine 1st - Do you share your shame?Shame.

It’s an awful word, and one that conjures up some really unpleasant feelings. Undoubtedly as soon as you hear the word you instantly get transported to a moment, or possibly moments, in time when you felt shame.

It’s icky.

It’s unnecessary.

…and it’s simple to get rid of.

Shame is a disease

Shame is a horrible disease that has reached epidemic proportions across the world. It is something that everyone experiences at some point in their life (according to my friend Brene Brown, unless they are a sociopath!), and like some silent virus it’s hard to tell the people who are suffering with it.

One of the things that shame needs to survive is judgment…and judgment has become such a part of every day life that we don’t even notice it anymore. How often do you hear, think or say “I don’t think she should wear that”, “I don’t like this it makes my (Bum / Thighs / Tummy / Arms – Delete as appropriate) look big”, “Why did they do that?”, “Who do they think they are?”

We hear them all the time.

More importantly, we tend to judge ourselves more harshly than anyone.

So what does Shame have to do with Femininity?

Well, in addition to judgment, the other key things that shame need to survive are silence and secrecy. By keeping our shame to ourselves and not sharing it with others by staying quiet, we feed it and allow it to grow.

But the good news is that there is an antidote to shame.

Empathy.

The most powerful words to combat shame are quite simply “me too”.

Whenever we have a moment of intense shame, hearing from someone else that they know how we feel, they understand and that they’ve been there at some point too has the ability to instantly relieve the feelings that are consuming us.

…and what is the route to empathy?

There is only one way that we can show empathy…and that is to allow ourselves to share our vulnerability…to be raw, honest and truthful about our own experiences.

I can hear you now: “But Claire, you said it would be easy!! That’s not easy to do!”

I said it was simple…not easy…but when you have the courage to do something that seems hard at first you quickly realise; It’s actually far harder holding onto your shame in those silent, secret corners of your mind than sharing it with someone else and realising that they feel exactly the same way.

As we know from the definition of femininity, one of the key aspects is to be connected both to our own emotions and to the emotions of others. By having the courage to be vulnerable and to share our own shame-inducing experiences, we actually get to simultaneously destroy the shame in ourselves and others too.

As women we have expectations of ourselves that are so much higher than those we put on other people (if you’ve not yet seen last week’s video blog then I highly recommend checking it out now)…and when we fail to meet those expectations we experience shame.

By allowing ourselves to embrace our feminine in connecting into those feelings, sharing them with others, and connecting to their experience we have the ability to release this shame.

I spent this afternoon watching the fabulous’s Brene Brown latest talk “Listening to shame” and I encourage you to check it out here:

Overcoming shame can be scary…but you don’t have to do it alone

When I come to write a newsletter or blog post I often feel compelled to share on a particular topic because it keeps popping up in my world. This week is no different. I want to introduce you to my friend, Johanna Lyman because Johanna is finally coming out of the shame closet. 😉

She’s taken her own experiences around shame and the power of identifying being able to shift out of her own “Shame story” and is now helping other women to do the same. I thought the message that she is sharing is incredibly important so I felt compelled to share it with you here today. Here’s what she has to say:

I’ve recently made a powerful discovery. I figured out what is at the root of every single story I’ve ever told myself that has kept me from having a better relationship with my husband and growing my business the way I said I’ve always wanted to.

I’ve uncovered the powerful dynamic that kept me stuck in every area of my life, and have figured out how to finally break free of the emotional chains.

I feel completely different now that I’ve been able to shift out of my Shame Story. I feel different in my body, I relate to the people I love differently, and I even saw my business grow within hours of first making this powerful shift.

I know: it sounds too good to be true. But I promise you, it is true. And the trick is, that it’s about facing what you think is really, deeply wrong with you. This is no woo-woo, feel good, New Age mystical BS. This is about going eyeball to eyeball with your biggest fears. It’s about facing your “I’m not good enough” story and finally telling the truth. And I can promise you, it won’t feel good. It will feel GREAT to finally get out from under those awful stories!

The truth is that you ARE good enough. You are enough.

Right here, right now. You are perfect in your imperfections.

In fact, your imperfections are the cracks that let your unique light shine through. And the world needs your light.

If you would like to join Johanna for her free Decoding Shame call on Wednesday December 12th at noon PST then you can find out all the details here: http://tiny.cc/johannashame

Even better, the call will be recorded, so if you can’t make it live, you can catch up on it in when it’s convenient for you.

I know from seeing Johanna in action that she is what I call a “gardener of transformation”. She plants the seeds, provides the nourishment and nurturing that is required and then holds space for the transformation to burst through and blossom.

Her insight and wisdom are second to none and she has the most beautiful way of helping you to discover and honour your vulnerability in a way that is truly empowering.

She has such compassion and love for the people she works with that allows you to own and recognise elements of yourself that you previously wanted to deny or hide away from… and to turn them into your greatest strengths.

Whether you decide to sign up for the call or not, I highly encourage you to share your shame. Have the courage to step into the feminine power of emotionally connecting through vulnerability to release that shame for yourself and others.

Stay Fabulous!

Claire x

Everything is perfect…but it’s OK for it to hurt at times too…

Happy SadFollowing on from last week’s newsletter article, I had an interesting conversation that prompted me to write today’s article.

The person I was speaking to had read last week’s article about the fact that “Everything is Perfect” and they asked me a very interesting question.

The conversation went something like this:

“I read your article about everything being perfect, but aren’t there times when something happens and that you just get caught up in the emotion of the moment, and you feel angry or sad even though you know you should be thinking positively?”

I am so grateful to the individual who asked this question (you know who you are)…because it occurs to me now that reading my post from last week you might think that I’m this impossibly happy and positive person who relishes every upset as an opportunity for personal growth.

…and I do believe that every upset is an opportunity for growth …eventually!

But in the moment, I feel all of the raw emotions the same as everyone else does.  It’s natural.  It’s human.  It’s the way we’re built.

Not only is it natural, but it’s necessary.

You see, if a situation comes up where you get hurt and you don’t acknowledge and honour that emotion, instead trying to move directly onto the ‘positive aspect’ of it, the emotion will stay with you.

It might be buried or ignored for a bit, but sooner or later it will pop up again and say hello…or a greeting that is much less friendly!

I’ve had an experience this week that has really reminded me of this.

Over the weekend I was relying on a very good friend of mine to complete some crucial work for a part of my business.  There was a deadline that couldn’t be moved and it was fundamental to a project I was working on.

I had offered to find an alternative solution last week if it wasn’t going to be possible to complete it and less than 24 hours before the deadline I received confirmation that it was in progress and it would be done.

So when said friend dropped off the radar with no communication and no warning that it would not be completed at all, I was completely shocked.

The deadline came and went with no word, and the work was not completed.  At the last minute I had to find an alternative solution myself so as not to let down people who were relying on me.

In that moment, and for several moments after it, there was a lot of emotion.

It was raw.

It was intense.

It was overwhelming.

I felt hurt, let down, angry, disappointed…and a whole lot more too.

I reached out to friends.  I vented.  I cried.  I allowed myself to feel it all completely.

Because once it had been felt…it was possible to release it and let it go.

…and it was also possible to see the gift in it.

I got to prove to myself that when I’m in a difficult situation and the pressure is on, I am able to find a solution.

Also, there have been several occasions in the last few months where I’ve been presented with opportunities to show compassion to, and actively help, people who have hurt me.  This was another one of those opportunities.

Not making what they’ve done OK, or ignoring it.  Acknowledging, expressing and facing how they have made me feel, but still choosing to show compassion for them in spite of that.

Because as hurt as I had been by it, I know that the intention had always been to help.  …and as disappointed as I was to be let down by a good friend, I knew that they weren’t a bad person…they’d just made choices that had led to a situation that caused me to feel bad.

I found a quote that really summed the situation up “Forgiveness doesn’t mean accepting someone’s apology, it means understanding fully that a person made a mistake but is worthy of a second chance” ~ faithlovestoreblog.

But as much as there was a ‘silver lining’, it was just as important for me to acknowledge, feel and experience the intense feelings as and when they came up, as it was to eventually see the gift in the situation.

…and when in that moment of feeling and experiencing those intense emotions the best thing you can do for yourself and everyone around you is to allow yourself to be with it, feel it…but avoid reacting from that place.

Let the intensity of the emotions release before you act and you can then choose to respond rather than react.

As you know, one of the core aspects of femininity is to be emotionally connected…so in order to really embrace our feminine we need to also embrace, embody and experience our emotions in order that they can freely flow into and out of us.

That way we can honour them, without holding onto them…and we can then eventually see the gift.

Stay fabulous,

Claire x

Listen to your heart…

Over the last few weeks I’ve been sharing with you my personal story of heartbreak, and the most important things for you to know in order to be able to deal with it.

So I can imagine that when you saw the title of today’s article that you might have thought I’d completely lost the plot.

Listen to your heartHere I am, experiencing an incredibly painful time…all down to the choices my heart has made…and yet I’m tell you that you should be listening to it?!

Don’t call the men in white coats just yet…there’s a logic here…honest, just bear with me.

I’ll admit it.

On more than one occasion my heart has got me into a bit of a pickle.

OK, let’s call a spade ‘a spade’.

At times my heart has led me to situations that have left me devastated.

In the past I’ve lost my home.

There have been occasions where it has cost me financially.

It has often hurt me emotionally.

Looking back over the recent posts has reminded me of how I’ve responded to this situation in the past.

In a desire to protect myself from further pain and hurt, the barriers went up and my loyalty to Heart.fm made an instant switch to Head.fm (especially the breakfast and drive-time shows) although the music admittedly wasn’t as good.

The main problem was that having had ClairesHeart at the wheel of the roadster that is ClairesLife for 20-30 years…ClairesHead didn’t have the faintest clue which direction to take, or even how to drive. It ground the gears, it stalled the engine…and more often than not we just plain ended up lost.

Because, when it all comes down to it, listening to your heart is what guides you to your greatest joys.

It led me to start a business that fills me with pleasure every day.

It has guided me to more friendships and inspiring people than I could possibly list here…even if I kept typing for the next week!

It is the source of my amazing relationship with my family.

It led me to start dancing and singing…two of the things in life that light me up from the inside out.

It’s who I am.

…if I were to stop listening to my heart, I would no longer be me.

On Monday I shared a video that talked about the power of vulnerability, and in it Brene Brown shared that you can’t just numb the negative emotions.

Unfortunately, you can’t turn down the volume on your negative emotions without also turning down the volume on the positive ones.

Likewise, if you stop listening to what your heart / intuition / inner voice is telling you…you’ll miss out on the good times it will guide you to as well as the challenges.

Not only that but, if we allow it to, every challenge in life can teach us something.

It could be something big.

It could be something small.

If could be something about other people.

More importantly it could be something about yourself.

If you lose the challenges, you lose the lessons.

So…am I going to stop listening to my heart?

No-freaking-way!

I know it will guide me to where I’m supposed to be…even if there might be a few stops on the way which I wouldn’t have chosen.

Looking back you can often see that without making those stops, you’d never have reached your destination.

Stay Fabulous,

Claire x

The 5 most important things to help you deal with a broken heart…

By now, I’m sure you know that recently I’ve had to face one of the more difficult challenges that life has to offer…how to deal with a broken heart.

Broken Heart

After going through the normal reaction involving tears, above average chocolate consumption and an extra glass of wine here and there, the question I asked myself was “How could this experience help the women that I work with?”

The answer I got was to share with you the 5 most important things to help you deal with a broken heart.

Heartbreak is never easy, always painful and can take some time, so finding ways to make the journey a little more bearable is important.  So, following on from last week’s “How to deal with a broken heart” here are are the 5 most important things to help make the journey a little easier:

1. Feel the emotion – This was obviously the main focus of last week’s newsletter, if you missed it, you can catch up via the blog here.  It can be easy to put the barriers up, and close yourself off to try and protect yourself from the pain.  But by doing that you only end up hurting yourself in the long run.  It’s so important to stay open and feel the emotions fully as and when they come up, in order for you to then be able to let them go and begin to heal.  In order to make this a little easier try and remember to stay “R.E.A.L.”

Recognise – Recognise an emotion as it comes up, no judgment, just be aware of how you’re feeling and allow yourself to face it rather than finding some way to distract yourself or avoid it.

Experience – Let yourself feel the emotion completely.  Don’t hold back, just allow yourself to feel how you need to feel.  If you need to cry, cry, if you need to shout, shout, if you want to laugh, laugh…but allow yourself to experience the emotion fully.

Accept – Accept the way that things are.  The situation as it is and what has happened.  Give yourself permission to feel how you feel and accept that it’s ok to feel sad / angry / disappointed / upset or whatever it is that you’re feeling.

Let go – Release the emotion…let it go.  Once you’ve felt it there is no reason to hang onto it anymore, it won’t serve you to do so.

2. Take some space – When you go through a major life change like a breakup, it’s important to give yourself a bit of space.  If possible, don’t make any major decisions for a month or two, to allow yourself to adjust to the changes in your life.  Just give yourself a bit of space and time to feel what you need to feel, begin to heal and work out what you would like for yourself next.

3. Focus on you and your needs – As you no longer have to worry about a partner’s feelings, wants, needs or desires, now is the time to focus on you.  What do you want? What makes you happy?  What makes you smile?  What would you like to do?  I’m not talking about big-picture long-term stuff here, I’m talking about day-to-day, what would make you feel good?  Work out what it is, and make sure that you are meeting your needs and wants.  Whether that’s a walk in the country, a night out dancing with the girls, or an indulgent day to pamper yourself.

4. Let others be there for you – If you are lucky enough to have people around you who care for you and want to be there for you, let them.  If they were going through a tough time you would want to be able to support them, so let them do the same for you.  Having people around who care about you, even if its just company while you watch a film, can really help.  …and if they give great hugs, even better 🙂

5. Be Kind to yourself – Be gentle with yourself.  Don’t expect yourself to feel instantly better overnight.  Allow yourself the time and space you need to heal…and treat yourself kindly on the journey. If you missed the post earlier this week about being your own best friend then check it out here: ……. It gives some great tips for being kind to yourself, and for giving yourself the love that you need to get through the pain of a broken heart.

I know firsthand how difficult dealing with heartbreak can be…as you know by now, I’ve faced it a number of times.

But believe me, if you can remember these 5 important things it will make the journey a little easier…and someday soon, after a bit of time for you, you’ll be ready to love again.

Stay Fabulous,

Claire x

guilt trips shopping trips

How guilt trips are like shopping trips (only a little less fun)…

guilt trips shopping tripsI know.

Guilt trips like shopping trips?!

What?!

I can almost hear your brain trying to process this information…

“I don’t understand! Shopping trips are about fun and indulgence! They’re all about convincing yourself that dashing from store to store qualifies as enough cardio to justify a chocolate treat with your afternoon coffee…”

“…guilt trips are horrible, leave me feeling miserable and drained…”

“How can these two things have ANYTHING in common?!”

Bear with me.

Let’s start with your shopping trip.

You set out in the morning, not really looking for anything in particular. You buy a little something in the first shop, and you have your first bag of the day.

With a smile on your face, and a spring in your step you continue on. You go from store to store, browsing the shelves and racks for anything that takes your fancy.

You buy something else, and you have another bag.

You visit several more shops, deciding to treat yourself to this…that…oh, and just one of those too. A few more bags join the collection.

At this point you realise that you’re about halfway around the shopping centre.

You could go back to the car and drop the bags off…but that would mean walking all the way back to where you started. You’re not really looking to buy anything else, so you decide it’s not really worth it…besides, you can manage.

On you go.

Another shop…another purchase. It’s just a small one though, so you don’t really notice the difference when you add it to your cluster of bags.

You ‘pop in’ to another couple of shops…and leave with two more small bags in your hands.

The last leg of your trip brings a few more purchases…and several more bags appear.

Exhausted, you end up back at your car and finally get to put your collection of bags down.

It’s only at this point that you realise just how much you’ve been carrying and how heavy it was. Each individual bag didn’t weigh that much…but put together it’s quite a weight that you’ve been lugging around.

You weren’t looking for anything in particular…you weren’t expecting to gather such a collection of bags…but one by one they tagged along and before you knew it your arms were killing you!

Guilt works pretty much the same way.

You take on a little guilt here and there…for eating a bar of chocolate, missing the gym, not hitting that deadline, not having time to read with your child yesterday evening….

Each thing you feel guilty for isn’t actually that big…but add them all up and before you know it you’re carrying quite a weight around.

The thing is that once we pick them up, we do have a habit of carrying them around with us.

Rather than feeling a little guilty for a moment and then moving on, we beat ourselves up about it…again, and again, and again.

I had a great one last weekend.

While I was out shopping on Saturday I realised I’d skipped breakfast. It was already lunchtime and I was in a rush, so I grabbed a vegetable pasty on the go.

I then proceeded to berate myself about it (as I had said I was going to improve my eating habits to give me more energy).

Not just once.

All. The. Way. Home.

So what was the point of it? What did I actually accomplish from it?

The answer, is not a lot.

So the question is, how do we deal with it?

We need to learn to put the bags down.

Or even better, don’t pick them up in the first place.

The answer, is to simply ROAR.

Rectify Or Acknowledge, Release.

The first option is to rectify it. If you can do something about it then do it! It’s much easier and less hassle than carrying the guilt around.

If you can apologise to someone, apologise. If you can change the situation in some way, change it. You’ll feel much better, trust me.

If there’s nothing that you can do about it (like me and my pasty) then acknowledge what has happened and release it. Accept the situation and let it go.

Guilt doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t rectify it. It just serves to weigh you down…like the bags.

If you can learn to put the bags down then life will be a whole lot lighter…and much more enjoyable.

So learn to ROAR and lighten your load!

Stay Fabulous!

Claire x