Often times our emotions feel very overwhelming and we were never taught what to do with them. Most people either avoid or distract or stuff their feelings, often times with food, alcohol, drugs, work, exercise. Other people have learned through working with a therapist or coach or healer but sometimes find themselves alone with their feelings. When other coping mechanisms such as meditating, breathing or positive-thinking your way out of the anxiety and nervousness aren't working here's another technique that's served me well and has brought about so much healing over the past ten years.
It is a technique called Gestalt Therapy, developed by Fritz Pearls, who was a pioneer at Esalen Institute in Big Sur back in the 1960's. The word gestalt means unfinished, so Gestalt Therapy takes aspects of ourselves or emotions that are unresolved and acting out and asks them why they are there and what they are trying to teach us. Through the process, we bring ourselves to balance and wholeness.
Here's what you do: When you feel anxiety, sadness or anger grab a pen and paper. Write out a dialogue between you and the emotion, asking it what is its purpose, what is it trying to tell you, what does it want you to do. For example:
Gwen: I'm feeling so anxious. Anxiety, why are you here. I wish you would just go away!
Anxiety: I am here because I am trying to get your attention.
Gwen: Well, you have my attention. What do you want?
Anxiety: I want you to slow down. I want you to take a break.
Gwen: I have so much to do. I can't take a break.
Anxiety: I am angry with you. You need to slow down. I am worried about you.
Gwen: Okay. What if I take a break and take a bath or go for a walk?
Anxiety: That would be a good idea. I'm here to help you. Don't push me away.
Gwen: I get it. I appreciate it. The racing in my chest is actually starting to feel better already.
Anxiety: See. I am here to help you.
Gwen: Okay. Do you think you could be gentler with me next time? I hate feeling so anxious.
Anxiety: Yes, if you pay attention to the earlier signals I won't have to be so intense.
Gwen: Yes, I can do that. What are the earlier signs?
Anxiety: I usually feel overwhelmed first. Can you take any overwhelm as a sign to slow down?
Gwen: Yes, I can do that. Thank you for sharing with me. I want to feel calm and peaceful.
This is a simple example but the Gestalt communication can be deep. If you come up against something that feels really challenging ask your therapist, write to me and we can set up a time to talk or find you the support you need.