Tag Archives: anger

Inside Out – fab film and potential reminder around mindfulness of our emotions


I saw it last night and loved it.

And it’s another tool to help us notice when we’re being run by our emotions. The ever fantabulous Amy Poehler was especially terrifying as Joy when she was trying to hijack the other emotions, especially poor old Sadness (Phyllis Smith embodied her voice beautifully).

While they were the main characters (Joy suddenly finds herself not the main emotion in little Riley’s life after an unexpected move away from all her friends and hobbies), Disgust (Mindy Kaling – can’t wait for her new book to arrive), Fear and Anger were also essential.

Claudia Hammond wrote a gorgeous book some years back called Emotional Rollercoaster: A journey through the science of feelings. Inside Out made me want to dig it out and reread it.

This film felt (to me) like an emotional rollercoaster – I nearly made it through without crying although they’d been some near misses but, well, no. In my defense, I wasn’t the only one. And the tears felt good!

When you think of the Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust in your own head, which are you most aware of?

Which do you try to repress? (Remember poor old Sadness being instructed to stay in her teeny tiny circle?)

Has repressing your emotions ever worked?

It may seem silly now, considering the work I do, but when I first saw a counsellor in my early 20s, she asked me how I was feeling and although I was clearly being run by my emotions, I simply couldn’t tell her, or myself. Her simple ‘How does that feel?’ may as well have been in Russian (which I sadly cannot speak or understand).

Just checking in with yourself, a few times a day and wondering, which are you most conscious of, can help you better understand the language of your own feelings. There’s no need to try to change anything, simply give yourself permission to feel it.

This won’t, as Fear might have you believe, leave you completely hijacked by your Anger or Sadness. Instead, those feelings will pass more freely and easily leaving you less likely to act out on them.

You might also want to think about ways in which you can express your Joy more freely? What naturally sparks Joy for you?

What helps you deal with Sadness? How might you allow yourself to feel some of that pain, loss and grief and let it go more naturally? (A good cry at a fab film can help! I recommend this one).

What about Anger? We (especially women, in whom, even in 2015 it’s still less socially acceptable than in men) definitely don’t want to suppress this.

Look at how Anger at injustice has changed the world for the better when expressed lovingly by people like Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Scilla Elworthy, Gloria Steinem, Eve Ensler – the list is endless.

What makes you angry? How can you channel that perfectly legitimate emotion into action you feel good about?

And, awww, Disgust. I failed to hold back a judgmental and disgusted, ‘Oh dear God’ as a small child spat (maybe he thought he was a professional footballer, whatever – eeeww) on the floor very near me yesterday. I’ve been known to turn this Disgust against myself for feeling it but, hopefully, with Mindy Kaling’s help (she embraced it fully), I’ll come to accept my own squeamishness more.

Are you easily disgusted? How might you express it in as healthy a way as possible?

Just noticing our usual default emotions in different situations can help us being to gain more freedom as we’re guided rather than hijacked by our feelings.

Good luck!

What might you choose to do differently to better express all of your emotions from today?

Feel free to answer below in the comments!


Eve x



Feeling your feelings

Feelings are just feelings. They can be clues to help us adjust the way we’re doing things and make improvements we might never have considered if not for that anger, sadness, grief or frustration.

Which feelings are you most comfortable with?

Which make you most uncomfortable?

How might you be more welcoming of even those feelings? Not to act on them (lashing out etc) but to pause and think about how you can support yourself (or ask others for help) through them?

If you hurt your knee, you wouldn’t keep trying to run and jump, ignoring the pangs of pain.

You’d rest it, ice it, bandage or do whatever it needed (and maybe see a doctor and / or physiotherapist).

We know that ignoring and pushing through physical pain can lead to injury.

Yet we often try to ignore emotional pain (‘Oh, I’ll just have another packet of crisps / whisky / something else that perhaps isn’t the healthiest of options’).

So you might want to experiment with it, if even just for a moment.

Next time you notice an ‘unpleasant’ feeling, give yourself permission to actually FEEL it. You may need to cry, punch pillows, stamp your feet, journal or whatever else you think of.

Play with it and you may be surprised by how quickly, once you stop resisting it, the feeling shifts…

Metta x


Jill Bolte Taylor’s Stroke of Insight


I’ve read several interviews with Jill Bolte Taylor over the years but, while all were utterly inspirational, none moved me quite as much as her hour long interview with Oprah for Super Soul Sunday (which I saw yesterday). I now can’t wait to read (she says, ignoring the stack of books towering over saying, ‘Read me first!!!’) her memoir, A Stroke of Insight.

Dr Bolte Taylor was in her late 30s when she observed herself having a stroke. She (a neuroscientist at Harvard) had an unusual reaction in that she thought, ‘Wow, this is so cool! How many brain scientists get to study having a stroke from the inside out?’ before managing to call for help before she died.

Although her brain changed forever (she had to relearn everything as if she was an infant and it took years to recover), Bolte Taylor regards herself as ‘Stroke triumphant’ rather than a stroke survivor.

‘When I look at people who’ve had any kind of trauma, I ask what have they gained,’ she told Oprah. ‘I gained this incredible knowingness of deep inner peace.’

I’d remembered previous interviews in which I’d read how, with the right hemisphere of her brain intact but almost all of the left hemisphere affected, she became extremely sensitive to people’s energy and (somehow) asked medical professionals and other carers to take responsibility for the energy they brought to her hospital bed.

One of the most moving aspects of the interview (for me) was her description of the specialist who, with her student doctors around her, spoke to Bolte Taylor and got her permission (even though Bolte Taylor couldn’t understand or communicate, she felt the respect and care).

While she and her loved ones grieved the loss of the old Jill, she set about recovering and found freedom in recognising that with her slate wiped clean (no memories of suffering, no baggage), she could choose the thoughts she wanted to think (ones that didn’t help created unpleasant sensations) and her message is that we ALL have this capacity to change our physiology by being mindful of our thoughts.

Bolte Taylor used angry thoughts as an example saying if you notice the anger and let it pass, within 90 seconds, it leaves the system. She encouraged people to time it. Of course, what most of us do is to strengthen the vicious cycle by thinking additional angry thoughts so our system gets flooded with stress hormones which then take at least 20 seconds to leave our system.

Just this morning, an ongoing situation triggered some angry thoughts on my part. My mindfulness practice helped me notice that I’d stopped breathing and my heart centre (opened so beautifully in a gorgeous yoga class this morning) felt tight.

I’ve been finding Gabrielle Bernstein’s May Cause Miracles programme really helpful in not just supporting mindfulness of thought but helping to release unhelpful ones by saying affirmations like, ‘I forgive myself for that fearful projection’ or ‘I forgive myself for that attack thought’ (I’m possibly making this sound really complex but it’s a gorgeous, easy to read and implement book and I highly recommend it).

Bolte Taylor hasn’t yet had me dig out a stopwatch but I was conscious this morning of disciplining myself to break that circuit. ‘When you pay attention to what’s going on in your own brain and you take responsibility of the circuits you’re running, you make up the rules to a new game,’ she told Oprah.

‘It’s beautiful. It’s freedom. Pay attention to what you’re thinking. You are not your thoughts. Decide if those are thoughts that create the life you want to be creating and if it’s not, change your thoughts.’

The idea that we are more than our thoughts (and feelings and body) is a key concept in psychosynthesis counselling and yet, hearing a neuroscientist describe the full cycle was just amazing.

Check out Jill Bolte Taylor’s TED Talk here.

Metta xx


Mindfulness of mood – feel better every day? Really?


Often, in the early stages (and later, sometimes) of the therapeutic relationship, counselling clients look at me as if I were wearing pineapples on my head when I encourage them to feel their feelings.

Naturally, this isn’t something to be jumped into if you’re already feeling like you’re, as Anne of Green Gables used to say, ‘in the depths of despair’.

But the more we attempt to numb ourselves to pain, grief, loss, anger and other ‘negative’ feelings, the less capable we are of experiencing joy, love, awe, happiness and all the yummy feelings we take for granted when things are going well.

The delightful Jon Kabat-Zinn talked about feeling the full emotional landscape and I love that analogy as some of my favourite paintings are of stormy landscapes.

Still, this week, my daily morning mindfulness meditation (which, after 13 years of more sporadic practice, I’ve been managing Every Single Morning since hearing Kabat-Zinn) has been leaving me feeling cranky.

It’s one thing to have complete faith that a client’s feelings will shift when he (or she) allows himself to experience it fully and let go but a part of me, yesterday morning, felt a little panicked.

Maybe I’d worn out the mindfulness meditation / broken it somehow? At first, while I could identify a few external triggers, they were things that normally wouldn’t impact me. Still, I figured, Must Meditate More to Become Less Cranky.

Of course there’s another way. While the meditation had helped me identify the feeling as crankiness and to be on guard rather than acting out, it was only when I took action (and spoke to one of the people triggering it) that it vanished.

I could almost see it go up in a puff of smoke and we (the person I spoke to about an issue) laughed about the situation. Had I not allowed myself to feel the irritation, I might never have addressed it and we wouldn’t have resolved things.

After that, I relished feeling pretty amazing for the rest of the day and much of this morning. I much prefer feeling good, energised and bubbly. I adore mindfulness when they’re the feelings I’m aware of.

So when another external trigger depleted some of my effervescence, I again felt cranky and annoyed with myself for letting the situation get to me.

And yet, letting it get to me and checking in with myself (the way I encourage clients to ask themselves, as close to that moment as possible, ‘What do you need in this moment? What will help support you?’) helped me move through it.

Mindfulness practices help remind us that nothing lasts forever. We can feel amazing one minute and flat (or worse) later on. Similarly, what feels world ending will also pass. We will feel good again.

When I talk about working at your wellbeing and feeling better every day, I don’t mean it to sound flippant. I know this work can be tough. That it can feel exhausting and that you might worry you’ll never feel OK let alone happy again (I’ve been there). But it’s worth it.

The more we build on the things that support our spirits and lift us up, day by day, the more resilience we have when life gets a bit grr-inducing (or worse).

When did you last take a few moments to check in and notice your mood and feelings and just allow them rather than trying to force a different way of feeling? I’m not suggesting you torture yourself by staying with unpleasant feelings for an impossibly long time but regularly checking in on your mood will help you be more mindful and, ultimately, improve your access to your full emotional landscape.

And, of course, if you want some support, click here to find out more.

Metta xx

Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev / freedigitalphotos.net