Feeling, Not Being

In English, when we experience sensations, we use verbs that imply permanence and appear to define us. The phrase “I am hungry” suggests on a subtle level that this is not an experience of hunger you are having, but rather a state of being that is not temporary. 

Of course, we know intellectually that hunger is fleeting, but how often do we speak in a way that reflects this? You can feel the difference for yourself by tuning into what emotion you feel right now. If nothing is present for you, reflect on the last palpable emotion you felt. 

Fill in the blank for yourself:
I am [feeling or emotion].

Sit with the weight of that phrase for a moment. If you show up as “I am” with an emotion attached to it, there is very little room for anything to show up differently. If you “are” worried, everything that appears in your field will be colored (even if it’s subtle) by that worried-ness. Simple things such as your phone ringing might occur with a sub-conscious thought of, “this must be bad news.” Checking the time could stir up anxiety and cause you to see it from a place of “I am running out of time.” 

Now, try it again a different way:
I feel [feeling or emotion] right now.

This rewrite offers so much freedom for other thoughts and feelings to show up. “Feeling worried right now” communicates the idea that it is a temporary experience. Feeling worried now does not mean you will feel worried 5 minutes from now—You now have a conscious choice in how you perceive the next occurrences and how you respond, both internally and externally.

What could have seemed like a phone call of impending doom can now show up as hopeful or exciting (or all-around liberating!) because you viewed your emotional experience as a transient, ever-changing one. Looking at the clock can feel positive, negative, or neutral if you create space between your identity and your feelings.

The next time you are “having a moment,” give yourself some space between who you are and how you feel. You have a choice to respond from a place of emotion or from a place of neutrality. (The latter will always yield better results!)

Aubrey Klein