There is a coaching exercise that I like a lot. In short, the idea is that all emotions that we may feel are allowed. With the support from the coach, the client gets to move in and out of different emotions and explore how they feel. Dark and heavy emotions, neutral emotions and easy, light emotions. The exercise I usually use is called the “Emotional Piano”.
To allow emotions
The dark and heavy emotions are on the left side of the piano, on the darker tones. The more neutral emotions are in the middle and the bright emotions on the right side of the piano. The client chooses the emotions and also decideds which ones end up where. The same feeling can mean different things to different people.
But why feel all the emotions then? Isn’t it better to just be calm and feel happy?
Of course there is nothing wrong with that if you feel genuinely satisfied. But sometimes we have learned that we should suppress certain feelings. That we are only okay when we are “nice”. But there may of course be emotions that we don’t want to stay in for very long, even though we allow them to exist. There is also a difference between being in so-called negative emotions for a short time and being stuck in them.
One of the key things of the exercise is that all emotions are allowed and may be included. Because if you only allow yourself to feel certain emotions it becomes more difficult to interpret your own signals. The feedback you get from yourself when you shut off some of your feelings lack nuance, just like the tone does when you only play at one end of the piano. This applies regardless of which end of the piano you end up in.
The best thing about the exercise is that emotions often contain important information that can provide clues as to why you feel and react the way you do. Focusing only on a feeling without letting it be preceded by a thought also gives a new angle. Maybe you discover emotions that you had forgotten that they exist. Feelings that you might want to feel more often.
Different feelings show up for different people and there is no “right” or “wrong” way to do the exercise. But one feeling that my clients often place far to the left among the low emotions is the feeling of being useless. Definitely a feeling that it is not nice to stay in for a long time. However, it can be interesting to think about why it is so scary. Perhaps it is also possible to conclude that it is not at all relevant anymore.
Some people probably think that you need to be good at something or have to achieve something to be valuable. Or maybe you have to look a certain way. But good at what and to what use? If I’m the only one who gains from it, will I really be more valuable then? More “successful” perhaps, if one chooses to measure success in achievements of various kinds.
Another way to measure your value can be to consider to what extent you make other people feel good. As long as you don’t run over yourself in the process, of course. Which is one of the things you can discover during an exercise like this. If you allow yourself to feel your entire emotional register, it is easier to figure out what makes you feel good.
Taking care of yourself is also a very good way to confirm for yourself that you are valuable. I am absolutely sure that you can only be of true value for others if you take care of yourself first.