Do you know of people who seem to go out all the time or who decide to do something, like learn to surf, get fit, learn Spanish, get a new job, and just go do it. Sometimes we have been hurt and so we put up a protection mechanism to prevent us being hurt again. It’s like there’s a part of you that doesn’t feel safe, feels nervous, and gets worried about things. It can mean it prevents us from going out and experiencing life.
Do you feel sometimes like you’re scared or nervous to meet people? You stay home when you really want to go out and have fun. That was me, it would take me ages to prepare to go out, to be around people or to do the things like to do for fun. It felt like everyone else had it easy, and something that seemed so simple was so challenging to me.
Maybe you’ve missed out on relationships, new friendships, travel, job offers, even maybe going to the gym. Maybe you’re protecting yourself from experiences, from being hurt in a relationship or even being hurt from a new friendship because you’ve been hurt in the past. For many of us there can come a time when we want to move on, get passed the old hurt.
That’s where I got to when I realised I needed to change
I remember at school, I was in I think I was 13 years old, I lived in a country town and there was a musical theatre production advertising for auditions. My mum was auditioning, she was so excited. She asked me if I’d like to try out too. It sounded like fun and I told my teacher at school before my audition. He pulled me aside school that day and told me that if I was to do the musical theatre show, I wouldn’t have any friends. I’m sure he had the best intention and was trying to protect me from possibly being bullied at school, but I was really excited and I still wanted to do audition. I did it. I got a role in the production.
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But my teacher had been right. It wasn’t the ‘done thing’ for someone my age to be in musical theatre in a country town, so I didn’t have friends. And that was hard.
I was shy when it came to socialising and I didn’t really make many friends for years. I wanted to be popular, to have heaps of friends so, I’d look to things outside of me to feel safe. I’d eat food to change my emotions, foods for comfort or reassurance. I’d watch the same movies or TV shows again and again, I knew the story line, how it would end and I got certainty from that.
Trusting yourself is the key
I know that part of it is trusting yourself, it’s easy to say, sometimes harder to do in the moment. Especially when maybe you’ve been hurt in the past by a friend, colleague, partner or family member. We get taught from a young age often to ‘put up a wall’ to ‘protect ourselves’. I remember getting really upset during a family occasion and told to push my feelings to one side, to separate myself from my feelings. This helped in the moment but over time they built up and got to the stage where a little thing would happen, I’d see someone looking at me a certain way, or I’d spill a drink and I’d get sad, my feelings would bubble up. I didn’t feel like I was in control of them.
What happens is that emotions can stack up and build up over time. When your a baby and playing with a rattle and donk yourself on the head and start crying, someone picks you up or calms you down. Perhaps they say ‘Don’t cry, don’t be sad, you’re ok’, and you calm down until you do it again and the same thing happens. Then we start to attach the feeling of a donk on the head with a rattle to the word ‘sad’. We create a memory of ‘sad’ moments.
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Everytime we feel sad, we add another memory. These stack up over time. When I was about 19, there was so much stacked sadness, it would only take a little thing to trigger that emotion which was sitting just under the surface. When I went out I would be worried that other people could see it and I wouldn’t feel safe in myself, so would shy away from new experiences, new people and challenges. I’d stick with what and who I knew, who I could trust. I felt like there was something wrong with me that other people knew how to have new experiences and meet new people and I didn’t have the courage to do it.
Overcoming past memories
So, how do you overcome past sad memories and them not influence this moment or future moments? We’ve got a choice. We can choose to let it hold us back and be afraid of similar moments next time we come across them. Or we can view our past as an experience we can learn from. What if once we learned from it, we can move forward to the next experience, and maybe create a new positive change? With that lesson, we can face the same situation again and again with new skills to handle it.
How do you have that safe feeling inside of you that you know you’re okay that you’ve got your own back?
It’s easy to say, I’ve said it to myself hundreds and thousands of times, especially when I was so so shy that I didn’t want to go to a party. I’d stay at home and read a book or watch TV, which is ok. The problem for me though was, I kind of wanted to go out. I didn’t want to stay at home, I want to go out and meet new people. I was missing out on social interaction and connecting with people which is something I really wanted. Some people are happy staying at home and reading a book and watching TV, and they are happy with the people that they connect with every day. I’m talking about the times when you want to feel emotionally safe to go out and have experiences that you really want to have but something prevents you.
What people are saying about Emotion Academy:
"After many years of training, courses, and counselling in various forms I thought I had certain aspects of my life sorted. Yet completing Emotion Academy showed me that I had been running away from my emotions and not facing them. After Emotion Academy, now I have the tools to engage with myself and win the internal battles once and for all - Neil Welsh, Victoria
My dad taught me a trick that I have used for a long time. The more I did it, the more it helped when I was doing something new and challenging. I was about to audition for my place in university, I was freaking out and my dad sat next to me in the courtyard outside the audition. He said that when he was going into a challenging situation he would stop for a moment and he would imagine a bubble of white light protecting him. Where he could choose what entered and left the bubble. He described it like a forcefield that protects him, that if people are being negative he can choose to let it in or leave it outside. When I did it I noticed that I was ok. That I could handle the audition (I went in an did an awesome job, and secured a spot in the university course).
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I can see now that what he was doing is that he was teaching me one part of how to be emotionally safe. I take a moment, I breathe, I create an imaginary dome around me and I imagine that people can’t touch me. Their feelings, what they say won’t affect me because I’m ok in myself. I also create a picture of me successfully completing the task of being the best I can in a situation. For example, if I’m going on a date I’d hold the picture of me being the best I can be, getting through the date and doing the best I can to connect with the other person and have fun.
Music helps too! I have playlist of songs that I play and when I hear them I feel happy and certain in myself (or you could have a playlist that helps you feel calm, excited, connected or confident). If you don’t have one yet, make a playlist! I play my playlist when I’m preparing for a date, job interview, meeting new people or anytime I want to feel more positive emotions.
Melisa Grigg - Head Coach & Trainer
Melisa was stuck in sadness for 15 years, hated her job, was overweight and her relationship had just ended. Melisa inspires people with her story and now teaches how she sorted her life out. She worked out how to be happy and how to lose over 30kg of body weight. In simple steps she teaches how you can stop procrastinating, find confidence, stop being so sad and finally start to find true meaning and purpose in your life.
The final thing I did was, I made a list of all the times that I faced a challenge and overcame it. All the times I learned something new about myself, all the times I went into new situations and succeeded. It became a list of all the times I had my back and the times I could use to feel safe and know that I can face this moment too. As I started writing I would remember more of the times where I’d learned that I was capable of more than I thought. I remembered the time that I walked into that audition for university and I did okay, I got through it and I did the best that I could do and I did end up getting into the university, in that course, I passed the audition.
What is on your list of achievements?
Other times I remembered like when I travelled overseas on my own, when I learned how to drive a car, when I’ve done things that maybe I never thought that I was going to be able to do. Or in a moment before I went to do it I had a doubt and instead letting that seed of doubt take hold, I made a choice and I did little things that helped changed the course of that seed of doubt taking root. Seemingly, little things can make a massive difference. I’d create a bubble around me, picture myself successfully achieving the situation I was going into. I made a choice to hold on to that and chose to feel safe within myself. I listened to songs that supported my confidence and help me to keep moving forward and I thought about all the other times that I’ve done this.
It starts with little things, little actions and behaviours that build up over time.
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