We all have periods in our lives where it feels like we’re emotionally out of control. It’s as if our emotions are running the show and others are responsible for how they play out. We’re simply at the mercy of our emotions. We are their victim. If you recognize this happening in your life, try grounding your emotions.
Being accountable for your own emotional reactivity is tricky business. What do you do when the emotions just seem to overwhelm you and you don’t want to be reactive? You know letting them flow is the best course of action and that is scary because you are afraid you’ll throw the emotion at someone. It all seems too difficult. This is your indicator that the emotions need to be grounded. This mobilized energy has to be released and it is your job. No one else can do it for you.
Think of your emotional state as a kite. Some of us have small efficient kites and others have large ornate designs that fill the sky. Regardless of your particular kite and size, it must remain grounded. When a kite is not grounded on a string or tether, it can spin out of control. This can be dangerous to the kite. It’s at the mercy of the unpredictable winds. There’s no guessing where the kite might go: it could get stuck in a tree, continue to flail uncontrollably, or instantly drop to the ground. The kite can get damaged or worse destroyed.
When your emotions are not grounded, you open yourself up to unpredictable outcomes that can make your journey more difficult. So many of us want someone to hold our kite string for us and be responsible for it. Yes, there’s a place for that support, but first you have to ground your own kite so others can then support you. The bigger the kite, the bigger tether required to keep it flying while anchored firmly to the earth. When you become untethered you flail about smacking those around you, taking them and you off course. When you ground your own emotional system, it’s safe for others to support you.
An ungrounded emotional system can make you vulnerable to manipulation in ways you won’t see coming. Your kite is now at the mercy of whatever manipulative winds surge past you. These influential winds come in many gusts and sizes. It can be a simple news report that angers or scares you. It can be your mate forgetting to pick up milk from the grocery store. Or, a passing comment of disapproval from a friend or loved one.
In the movie Black Swan, Nina Sayers lands the coveted lead role in the ballet “Swan Lake”. Nina’s deeply sensitive personality makes her a natural for the white swan role. It’s the black swan character that intimidates Nina. The black swan’s dark sides scare her. She believes that pushing her self to new levels will help her pull off this demanding role. Nina forgets her own strengths and doubts that she can pull it off. She puts an inordinate amount of pressure on herself, her body, and takes on the pressure exerted from her mother, the director, and competing ballerinas. Nina doesn’t appear to be eating meals, she’s not resting, and starts making reckless decisions. It’s here that we see how ungrounded her emotions are. Her body is stretched to the limits and she’s not listening or honoring its needs. As a result, she loses perspective, clarity, and opens herself up to dangerous manipulations.
Often it’s others who instinctively know you’re not grounded and they can either unconsciously or consciously push your buttons. Not only does this put your peace in their hands, but these types of manipulations can keep you distracted from your purpose, from accomplishing your goals, and delaying the dreams you have for your life.
When your emotions are not grounded you lose perspective and it becomes difficult discerning choices that can have major affects on your life. You miss opportunities and synchronistic events. It also opens you up to potentially harmful situations and you’re not even aware of it.
But isn’t Nina a success in the end? Didn’t she make it happen by pushing herself to a new level? Yes, Nina was a success, but look at what it cost her. When we push ourselves to this heightened level it can create such emotional reactivity that most of us end up missing the goal all together. We get distracted and our dreams go slip sliding away. We’re so close, but our emotions get frayed and we get lost in the weeds. Listen to Paul Simon’s famous song and you’ll get some examples of what can happen.
Sometimes the drama of our untethered emotions can be a pattern we don’t see. Because our swirling emotional system is in such flux we feel justified in letting it flail in the wind. As if you’re at the mercy of it and there’s nothing you can do. If you recognize these feelings, you’re probably not staying grounded emotionally. Remember, the bigger the kite, the more grounding required. As we embrace being alive and remember our humanness, our emotional journey becomes an adventure and pleasurable.
5 Steps To Ground Your Emotions
Think about your emotions as mobilized energy that needs a lightening rod to ground it. A lightening rod provides a low-resistance path for the electricity to the ground. It takes the harmful current away from the structure and guides it safely to the earth. When you find a practice that can be your emotional lightening rod, you and others will be protected from this intense energy. There are many ways to do this and we encourage to find what works for you. Here are some suggestions that have worked for us.
Daily Move Your Body
Each of us have to find our own way to regularly move our body. For most of us, it’s finding a daily practice that’s flexible and adjusts to how you’re feeling in the moment. For some, a daily walk is all that is needed. Others use exercise, be it in the gym, yoga, or aerobics. Still others need a combination of physical activities along with a daily meditation practice. “There’s many things I do on a day-to-day basis…to prepare myself for the unexpected. I exercise everyday…mentally that puts me in a clearer place. Hugh Jackman, Iconoclasts 2010.Depending on the size of your kite, you may need physical activity breaks throughout the day to help keep you grounded. When Sue-Anne is grounding her emotional energy, she cleans her house. She’ll clean everything from the floors to a cupboard that needs organized.
Be In Nature
Find time regardless of the season. Be out in nature around trees, flowers, birds, and any place that’s calm and beautiful. If you live near water, try walking by it on a regular basis. Being in nature every day can keep us grounded and calm.
Dedicated Daily Quiet Time
There are many ways you can create your own daily practice of quiet time. Some people meditate, others pray, cook, read, etc. When you find your own practice, return to it daily and it will help you ground your emotions.
Be Mindful Of Your Food
Food can be a powerful source of grounding. Especially if you’re not currently mindful of what you’re eating. There are countless resources that provide guidance in what foods are best for your system, that support your health, and correspond with the seasonal changes. Dan Buettner wrote a book called The Blue Zones and discovered ways that others throughout the world have mastered longevity. Many of the ideas in his book would help keep your emotional systems grounded.
Get The Rest Needed For Your System
Many times we overlook the need for rest – especially in our western culture. We’re living in a fast-paced multitasking environment and there never seems to be enough time for sleep, rejuvenation, and vacations. When you keep your body rested, your emotional kite stays grounded.
Now you’ve discovered ways to ground yourself emotionally each day, it’s time to realize you have a choice on whether to use these tools or not. When you’re emotions remain grounded, life doesn’t feel so heavy. You can then start to take yourself lightly.
May you find some peace today,
David and Sue-Anne