Do you feel insecure when your weaknesses are made known? I sure do! But I learned something this week about my insecurities and my emotions from them. And it really surprised me.
About a month ago, I volunteered to teach an art lesson for each of my kiddo’s classes. Now, I am definitely not an artist. But this was a scripted, guided art lesson, and since the schools have a limited art curriculum, parents are asked to volunteer to teach the classes.
So I did.
I learned about the master artist Frida Kahlo, I studied the PowerPoint presentation I was to give, and I practiced the step-by-step instructions on how to draw a bird and some fruit with oil pastels so I could demonstrate that to the students.
The time came, and I arrived ready to teach. Another parent volunteer showed up to help out as well. You know, walk around the room, check on the kids, keep them on task and paying attention, etc.
The students filed into the school community room, found seats, and paid attention as I began the lesson. Frida Kahlo had an interesting life and created beautiful artwork that represented a lot of how she felt. It was fun presenting this to the class.
Then we started on our artwork. The children followed instructions, creating their own still life of birds and fruit. I was impressed! They were creative and talented! But during this time, I started to feel a little anxious. Was I doing a good enough job? Did I do okay on the presentation? Would the students have enough time to finish their work? Or were we going to run out of time? Did the volunteer think I should be doing things differently? Did the students think I wasn’t a very good teacher? Was I meeting everyone’s expectations? Was the teacher being critical of my presentation?
Afterward, the class returned to their homeroom, and the volunteer and I cleaned up. As I headed home, I started to feel angry. That art lesson had not gone how I wanted it to. Why didn’t the volunteer help out more? Why did the teacher have to interrupt me to get the students to quiet down?
By the time I got home, I felt the experience had been a huge disappointment, and I was bummed about it all day.
PROBLEM: Often, in important moments, we experience fear and insecurities, then anger and frustration follow—leading to huge disappointments about the failure.
This is how I felt, until later that night as I was brushing my teeth, when I finally thought to consider that I had picked up someone else’s emotions. It had not occurred to me to check that because I thought they were all my own—all those thoughts were directly about myself and my own experience. And usually, the biggest tip that we are carrying other’s emotions is that they come up out of the blue. These fears and frustrations seemed completely logical for me to be experiencing given the circumstances.
So when I asked my inner self if I was carrying anyone’s emotions, I was surprised to receive a strong, affirmative yes! The parent volunteer came to mind. Then the teacher came to mind. And finally, even some of the students in the class came to mind. I had picked up a lot of emotions!
Note to self:
When we carry someone else’s emotions, we take them on as our own.
This means that if someone is feeling angry about a fight that morning, we won’t feel angry about a fight that morning too. Instead, we will feel angry about things applicable to our own life. If we start to carry a colleague’s sadness from a death, we won’t feel sadness about a death. Rather, we will feel sadness about something in our own life. If a friend is feeling anxiety about an upcoming test, we won’t feel anxiety about a test. Similarly, we will start to worry about things going on in our own life.
I was very excited to realize that all of those emotions that seemed so overwhelming were not my own! And since giving other’s emotions back to them does not affect them at all, I gathered up the fear and anger from the volunteer and returned it to her through this process.
Then I did the same for the teacher. And finally, to the students as well. As I was returning them to the students, sadness came to me. I felt very sad that the whole experience hadn’t gone how I’d wanted it to. But then, the thought came that I had also picked up sadness from the students. So I returned it to them as well.
Guess what happened next?
I let out a big yawn, and I felt better!
SOLUTION: Don’t assume all emotions are your own! Check if you’re carrying emotions, and if so, give them back! Then work through any that are your own.
Now when I think back on how the art class went, I have a positive picture in my mind, not tainted with anyone’s emotions. It was fun! A bit crazy with everyone’s different personalities, but still really fun! And I got to see my daughter in a new light as a student amongst her friends. It was a great experience. I’m glad I did it!
Check out the amazing artwork!
Now, are you carrying anyone’s emotions right now?
Do a check over the past few days. The biggest hint is that you start to feel off out of the blue, but that’s not always the case (as I learned this week!). Are you a bit frustrated? Maybe annoyed? Are you worried and letting your thoughts run wild? Maybe you are feeling a deep sadness or disappointment right now.
If so, and if there are any other emotions you’re feeling, take a deep breath. Visualize going inside yourself to your heart, and ask, “Am I carrying anyone’s emotions right now?”
Stay there in your heart and wait for something to come to mind. Is it a face? A name? A situation?
Don’t hold any expectations! Those will interfere with your answers and prevent you from truly understanding what’s going on.
Now, if the answer is no, Congratulations! Great! Those emotions are your own, and you can work through them! First, find what the parent emotion is by clicking here, and then click on the Anger, Sadness, and Fear tags to learn how to work through those specific emotions.
If the answer was yes, Congratulations! Great! You just discerned that you are carrying someone else’s emotions!
Next, take another deep breath and visualize gathering up all of that emotion into a ball. Now hand that ball back to that person/people. Remember, this does not affect the other person/people at all. It only lightens your own load.
Wait for it.
Wait for it.
Is there more? Or do you feel at peace?
If you feel better, you’re done! Great job!
If you don’t feel better, start the process again. Find out if you’re carrying more, or if you have some of your own emotions to work through. And if you know anyone who might be struggling with some sadness, worry, frustration, anxiety, fear, anger, or disappointment, send this to them! Perhaps they are carrying extra emotions as well.
You can do it! I know you can. Truly, I do. You have the capacity to learn how to do this. And you have the power to do it. Check in with yourself, identify if you’re carrying someone else’s emotions, hand them back, and feel better!