If I were to be completely honest, the ONE thing that changed my life was going to acupuncture school. It was the most challenging, interesting, life-changing thing I have ever done, as my mom told me before I started “it changes the way you think and see the world.” But I know everyone doesn’t have 4 years and 100k to put towards a Master’s degree in Oriental medicine so I’ll just tell you the one thing that started all other things for me.
I kept a journal about my feelings
I’m not a natural journal-er. I have never journaled before and I wasn’t particularly introspective before this exercise. I actually was quite self-centered but I was also 21 when this happened so maybe I can chalk it up to that.
It was my very first semester of acu school in San Diego and in my clinical counseling class we had a seemingly simple assignment: keep a journal of every feeling you feel. Seemingly simple I say because as it turns out I had NO IDEA how to recognize my feelings. I was actually resentful that I even had to do this assignment in the beginning. My entries for almost two weeks looked like this:
Tired. Hungry. Annoyed. Tired….
You get the idea. I actually thought that “tired” was an emotion LOL
My saving grace was a list of emotions that my teacher had provided us with (you can google “emotions list” to find something similar) so at night I would read through the list and say, “oh yeah, that was it.”
Slowly but surely I began recognizing and putting names to the emotions I was feeling. This lead to being able to recognize in the moment what I was feeling which eventually lead to being able to change the emotion I was feeling and thus the outcome of a given situation.
Thoughts give rise to action. Emotions give rise to those thoughts.
Identifying emotions is a skill. It takes practice and time. Eventually it will lead to being in control of your emotions which is what will change your life. Remember, your emotions are not good or bad and a critical part of this exercise is to not judge what you are feeling.
For me this was the first step in creating the life I wanted for myself. Full of joy, and connection.
Give it a try and let me know how it goes.