I love that old Bee Gees song ! Every time I hear it I see vivid pictures in my mind of my “disco days ” in the ’70s – the fashion, the music, the energy, the haircuts!! Those memories always make me smile and give me a warm, happy and comforting feeling .
It’s funny how when we recall those really significant happy or sad times in our lives , we bring back the really powerful feelings and emotions we felt at that time .
I have a very strong memory of a wonderful holiday in Zante a few years ago . We were staying in a sleepy little resort with only two main streets that had a few souvenir shops and restaurants dotted along their sides. Our hotel was a peaceful, cool haven to retreat to with our friends during the day and escape the scorching mid day sun if it became too hot for us. In the night we sat in the open air bar under a clear star filled sky, feeling the warm sea breeze as we enjoyed a long cool drink (or 3!) and listened to great music.
As I go back to that time now, I can feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, hear the soft lapping of the waves on the beach and my friends and families happy voices and laughter and the emotions that are “taking me over” are ones of calmness, contentment and deep happiness . I can recall that memory any time I want to feel those emotions. In NLP this way of accessing memories and their emotional states forms the basis of the “Anchoring Technique” – a great way to create a resourceful state when we need to.
The line of the song ” It’s just emotion taking me over” made me think about how strong emotions actually can “Take you Over” completely at any given time and effect us deeply – depending on the situation, the circumstances, how we are feeling , how we perceive we are being treated and many other reasons. When we let our emotions overwhelm us often we will distort the actual reality of a situation, and we may miss out on the joy in the moment or even behave in a way we or others may not like .
This weekend was a very emotional one for me. As well as celebrating the first birthday of my beautiful grandson I was also commemorating the first anniversary of my dads death two days later.
The two events triggered emotions in me that were at total opposite ends of the scale. I knew that although interlinked in history ,these events were also separate in their own rights – and deserved to be treated as such.
I wanted to feel appropriate joy at my grandsons first birthday party without being overwhelmed with sadness. I wanted to feel appropriate sadness on the first anniversary of my dads passing and let my thoughts take me where they needed to go to do that.
As we sat out in the garden in the beautiful sunshine on my amazing grandsons birthday, surrounded by family and friends, we celebrated together my little grandsons first birthday. I watched this beautiful little boy laugh and giggle as he opened yet another brightly wrapped present I felt extremely proud, joyous happy and blessed to be part of his life and soaked in the joy and happiness he has brought since his birth. His mum and dad had worked so hard to make this day special and were brimming with pride as they watched their happy little son playing with another new toy and speaking his own happy little words. I felt a surge of sadness that dad wasnt there to enjoy the event – he loved family gatherings so much – and as I felt my eyes well up and that hollow empty feeling in my stomach as I thought of him, I looked over to my beautiful grandson and he gave me the most wonderful smile. My heart melted . I immediately felt the emotions of joy and happiness that every Nanna should feel celebrating her grandchild’s first birthday. It was absolutely right for me to feel sadness that my dad was not there to share this event – and also to have let that emotion “Take me Over” completely would have meant that I would have missed that wonderful special moment .
Two days later my sister ,brother and myself gathered at my mum house to commemorate the first anniversary of our dads passing. We talked about dad and our lovely memories of him – even bought some of the cakes he liked and raised a glass to his wonderful life . The emotions that took me over on this occasion were sadness, a deep feeling of loss , the emptiness of missing him in my life. Spending the day with my family brought me great comfort – just all of us being together sharing our loss – in our own ways , with our own thoughts and special memories . I thought about the day we lost him and replayed the events in my head – this made me cry because the emotions that I felt were too vivid , raw and upsetting . I couldn’t bear to dwell on those thoughts for too long . I was overwhelmed with sadness and grief at his loss to the point it was hard to function. My emotions distracted me from truly remembering dad as I wanted to remember him – a wonderful husband , father , grandfather and great-grandfather , with a great sense of humour and a heart full of love. As I moved my focus to the happier times and special moments we had with dad, the great life he had, the very special man he was , I felt so proud of him and to be his daughter. I suddenly felt other emotions taking me over – peaceful and calm emotions tinged with sadness . I felt so blessed to have had him in mine and my children’s lives for so long . I was in a much better state to support my wonderful mum, sister and brother in their own grief.
I am grateful that dad knew of my grandson’s birth before he left us – and he was so happy about being a granddad again .
Our emotions can and often do ” Take us Over ” – sometimes appropriately, sometimes in an all-consuming way that can distort what is actually going on for us in that moment or affect how we behave with ourselves and others .
The great news is we can choose to understand , accept and/or change the way we react to our emotions in any given circumstance ( yes it may take practice!) Doing this will allow us to have more control of how we want to feel and behave – both in our personal and working lives and be more resourceful to ourselves and those around us .
We can also accept the fact that our emotions are a wonderful gift – allowing us to feel so deeply and strongly about the people , beliefs and important things we value and care so much about .