When we experience emotions, do we listen to what they are trying to tell us? Usually, when we experience an emotion that gives way to unpleasant feelings, we are so focused on the ‘negative’ outcome, we don’t stop to listen.
Believe it or not, no matter how unsettling the emotion, they are there to help and guide us. It’s just a matter of tuning into it and reading between the lines. This article will attempt to give you an understanding of what our emotions are trying to explain to us.
The image above is a model given by ICHARS – Institute of Clinical Hypnosis and Other Related Sciences. It’s called the FLIP model. This model is universal way to understand our emotions; it helps us flip our thoughts from our problems towards our solution.
Learn How to Use the FLIP Model
Introduction of the FLIP Model
This model is universal because we can use this to understand any ‘negative’ thought or situation that is bothering us. It focuses on three main aspects – the source of the thought that is bothering us, the emotion that the source evokes, and a solution to deal with the emotion.
The solution of the emotions has been derived based on what the emotion is trying to say to us. This will be explained a little later in the article. Each section of the model will be explained below.
Understand Each Source, Emotion & Solution
Source 1 – I am the cause of my discomfort
The first source applies to us if we do something to put ourselves in an uncomfortable position. If we make a mistake, we realize it and we start feeling guilty. This emotion has the power to make or break us and more often than not, it breaks us. It is a very strong emotion.
If we were to pay attention and bring ourselves to look beyond the discomfort, guilt is our body’s way of telling us that we are doing something that we are not supposed to be doing. It could also be telling us that we need to steer clear of these behaviors. It is a natural and powerful way of trying to get us to move away from something.
Logically speaking, if guilt is trying to push us away from a certain behavior, the solution to this emotion would be to learn and apply a new behavior that is more conducive and helpful for our growth.
Source 2 – Others are the cause of my discomfort.
The second source applies to you if someone has done something to upset you. If others are the cause of our negative thoughts or experiences, we feel angry. Anger is also a very strong emotion and can alter our behavior and reactions in an unexpected way sometimes.
If we were to listen closely, it becomes clear that we feel angry because our expectations haven’t been fulfilled. The interesting part is, even if the source is external, we have the power within us to change that. The solution to dealing with anger to re-align our expectations to what the situation is and not what we want it to be.
An example of this, which personally affected me; I used to get angry at people who would walk around without a mask because I couldn’t understand what more people need to take care of themselves and other people they are surrounded with during this pandemic. What I realized is, I cannot change other people, therefore the expectation that everyone would take it as seriously as I do was unreasonable. I changed the narrative in my head to say, even if they don’t take care, I need to be protected, I need to take all the precautions I can to be safe during this pandemic. The anger reduced automatically because I realized it is not worth it.
Source 3 – The situation is the cause of my discomfort.
The third source applies to you if the circumstance is not in your favor. When the cause of our issue is not ourselves or others, it brings us into a state of helplessness, because at that moment, it may seem like there is nothing to do.
It’s interesting because even when we experience helplessness, even though it seems like we are out of options, in actuality that is not the case. When we experience helplessness, it is our body’s way of saying we need to enhance our skills and create resources with what we have to manage the situation.
Human beings have incredible power. We can make choices and live according to a standard we set for ourselves. We have everything we need to build new skills and create and conjure resources to reach where we want to go.
When I was younger, I always wanted to play the guitar because I knew it would help me while I sing. I felt like I would become a better musician. I tried several times to play it, I bought a couple of guitars as well. Unfortunately, I could never hone those skills. When I realized I will not be able to play it, I was bogged down. Once again, I changed the narrative in my head and realized that I don’t need to stick to guitar exactly, I can pick an easier instrument to play. I stayed up one night and ordered a Ukulele online. The day I got it, I learned how to play a song in under 4 hours. This was only possible because I had already tried to play the guitar. those skills got transferred and I was able to make use of them in some other way.
Source 4 – The future is the cause of my discomfort.
The fourth source applies to us if the thought of what’s coming in the future causes you discomfort. This one is slightly tricky! The future is always going to be unknown and to a certain extent unpredictable as well. Whoever thought that a pandemic would hit us so badly!
Here’s the secret, it’s completely normal to feel a little worried or anxious for what’s about to come. A lot of the time, this fear and anxiety make us think of so many different aspects and things that could happen, but that is just our mind’s way of trying to understand what could happen’ what the possibilities are; what’s coming.
The way in which we deal with these uncomfortable emotions is to plan. Think of all the options and plan for all of them. Think of it like this, if we were to leave for a road trip, we wouldn’t just take the car and go. We would plan out what our destination is, how long the drive is, whether we require a place to stay the night, where we can stop to take breaks, what food we need to pack amongst a lot of things.
In the same way, we need to plan for your future with those details. When we look at our plan, we should feel like we have covered everything we can think of. It’s tricky because even though we have a solid, fool-proof plan, there could be several points where things don’t work out the way we anticipated them to. This is also normal. It’s like going on a road trip and taking a wrong turn. If we end up taking the wrong road, do we stay there or go back home?
We find another way out to go back onto the right road to reach our destination. In the same way, if things don’t work out according to our plan, we need to have faith and confidence in our ability to find our way out.
Once this model makes sense completely, it becomes fairly obvious that we have a lot more control than we give ourselves credit for. It’s important to understand that the control we have is purely for ourselves, we cannot control the environment or the people around us.
Our emotions are there to guide us and help us change the narrative in our minds. These emotions can create a very unpleasant experience for sure, but it also has the power to transform us in ways we cannot fathom, only if we were to listen.
We should make a habit of cutting ourselves some slack and know that we are doing the best we can. We should listen to ourselves more often because there is no one else that knows us better. Understand why or what our body is trying to tell us. We can travel very far and grow so much by just listening.