Emotions can be cues and clues

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Something I’ve learned during the Covid-19-crisis is that it’s actually carbon dioxide that is keeping you breathing.

When you experience shortness of breath, it’s not so much your body telling you to take in more of the positive – oxygen.

It’s telling you to breathe out to get rid of the negative – carbon dioxide.

Our emotions can be positive and negative

You can think of it this way:

  1. Our emotions are like cues
  2. Our feelings are also clues

One has to do with negative emotions.

The other with positive ones.

I will explain that in a second, but first let’s talk about …

The 4 buckets we can sort our emotions into

If you are very cut off from your own feelings, and struggle to access them, it can help to think of all emotions belonging in one of four big categories.

Here they are:

😠 Bad:

These would usually be feelings that are directed against other people such as resentment or jealousy.

😢 Sad:

Unpleasant feelings such as unhappiness, or feeling upset, lonely or not good enough. Fear and anxiety would also go into this category.

😡 Mad:

Feelings that make you feel out of control, for example angry, annoyed, irritated.

😄 Glad:

Happy feelings, such as joy, pleasure, satisfaction, cheerfulness.

Try this.

Imagine an empty room with each of these groups of emotions standing in the four corners of the room.

When you feel an emotion, can you “send” it off to one of these corners?

All emotions are created equal

Very, very important: there are no “wrong” emotions.

Each and every one of them just give you information or hints of what is happening in your life.

It’s okay to feel all of them.

Emotions as clues

How can we use our emotions as clues?

For me clues have to do with crime scenes. Little samples of blood, hair or DNA left behind by the murderer that the detective can use to find out what happened.

It is a useful way to think of our negative emotions. They tell us about things in our lives that need attention or some cleaning up.

Negative emotions are like carbon dioxide that wants to get out.

Remember our 4 buckets?

Interesting that there are 3 of them made for negative emotions. It tells us that experiencing negative emotions is just part of life.

But 75% of the time?

Actually, if we can bring that down to 50% of the time life becomes a lot more bearable.

How do you lower negative emotions to 50%?

By not feeling bad about the bad, sad or mad emotions in your life. If you tell yourself you shouldn’t feel those negative emotions, if you try to push them away, they just become stronger.

That is how you compound your negative feelings.

If you treat your negative emotions as clues given to you, the detective of your own life, you can find out what happened or is happening that is making you feel the way you feel.

Emotions as cues

The word cue comes from the world of theatre.

An online dictionary defines a cue as: a thing said or done that serves as a signal to an actor or other performer to enter or to begin their speech or performance.

If you think of your emotions as cues, it’s best to think of them as the positive feelings that motivate or inspire you.

Ask yourself: to walk out onto the stage of life with confidence, what do you need to feel?

Which of the emotions in the “GLAD”-bucket do you need to reach for to make your chances of success bigger?

And then, ask yourself how you can generate that emotion before you step into the light and do your own special thing in the world.

Because yes, you need to breathe out to get rid of the negative, the carbon dioxide.

But in the end, it is the positive, the oxygen that is making it possible for you to live.

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