3 years ago, a great teacher* of mine taught me a phrase that I really love, and now often use in my own classes. She said:
“We know what the weather outside is. But how is the weather inside for you?”
The first time I heard it, I was able to tune in instantly, curiously and with no sense of judgement as to how I was feeling at that point in time. It is that latter point that was a completely new revelation for me. Tuning into my body had become second nature to me by then, and I'd become so much better at being able to identify how I was feeling on an emotional level as well as physical. Yet I struggled to not feel a need to do something in response to identifying my emotional state. I would judge how I was feeling to be positive or negative, and would either begin a process of trying to hold onto that feeling, or running away from it. Rather than acknowledging 'how' I was, I'd make a judgement about 'who' I was based on that emotion and change my behaviour accordingly.
Let me say this clearly: No emotion is a bad emotion.
We need to be able to tap into different emotions to give us our whole range of being human and to give perspective to each individual emotion. We need sadness, joy, guilt, anger, grief, embarrassment and the whole gamut of emotions. They are a fundamental part of what makes us human, and they teach us how to relate to and connect with others. Way back, before we had language, these emotions WERE the language we used in our social cultures and tribes. They were also our internal signals as to what we contributed to, needed from, and how well we were functioning in our tribe.
Now, I think I logically knew this a few years back. I'd probably seen the Disney animation 'Inside Out' by then (watch it and get your kids to watch it - it perfectly encapsulates our internal emotional system). So I kind of got it. But I certainly didn't really believe it within myself. It took an analogy for me to see my emotions more objectively and as a result to, ironically, feel them more clearly.
Considering my emotions and moods as internal weather allowed me to accept their presence and that they would pass. I saw the 'feel goods' like sunny days and rainy days (I absolute love the rain!!!) filled with energy, creativity and joy. I saw the 'feel mehs' as foggy or dull days where energy was lower or flatter yet things still happened just in a different way or at a different pace. And sometimes it was just a storm that would be messy, but it would pass. I realised that I accept all atmospherical weathers unquestionably and accommodate them accordingly, yet I hadn't been doing this with my own weather. I became kinder to myself as a result of accepting my emotions, and my emotions become more regulated and less extreme (at some point I'll wrote a blog about emotional regulation - a fascinating subject - but it's not for today!).
By accepting how I am, and FINALLY with no judgement, I now make better choices for myself with regards to how to best meet my needs. Sometimes the changes are subtle. A bit like knowing I'd best take a warmer jacket when it's cold, I might choose not to go to places that will make me feel worse or potentially dull my sparkle. Sometimes the changes I need to make are more substantial. I might need to have a difficult conversation or, yup, give myself a kick up the backside. Usually the big changes come when I realise certain emotions aren't passing as naturally as they might otherwise, and I realise I'm stuck.
As Brits we’re socially conditioned to talk about the weather pretty much most days. But I wonder how often, in general as a nation, we take time to observe our own internal weather. I suspect not enough. Maybe our starting point is to clock when we mention the weather of the day, and to have a wee internal check inside to our own feelings too.
As Billy Connolly once said "There's no such thing as bad weather - only the wrong clothes". Indeed there’s no such thing as bad clothes, just inappropriate or misinformed self care.
* thank you to Clare Gates-Sjoblom, known affectionately by us teachers as 'yin yoda', for this phrase and for your teachings. That simple turn of phrase hit me deep and changed much. <3 <3