I Would Not Say Such Things If I Were You  

By: Terri Hayes

There are some words that seem like they are important and motivating but often it’s a disguise. I avoid labeling things as good or bad in permanent terms. Despite the title I chose for this blog, I would not condemn the words we’ll talk about today as words we should never utter, rather these words can act as a signal, so to speak. They are awareness words that can cause us to pause and evaluate when we say them. 

If you haven’t read my last blogpost titled, “The Language of Emotion,” it would serve you well to have that background before proceeding to this post. If you aren’t used to noticing how things make you feel when they are said, that blog post may be helpful. 

Just: I find I use this word a lot, in writing as well as verbally. My all-time cringe sentence I hear (and I’ve said it!) is, “I’m just a mom.” Just often downplays something. It can be condescending and lack compassion. In some instances, we are using it to justify something (I was just teasing). 

Should/shouldn’t, need to, have to, must. All of these can often feel like we have no choice in the matter or that our choice is tied to a moral right or wrong. Shame often accompanies should/shouldn’t. Noticed the resistance that may arise in your body when presented these words.  Let me ask you, when you or someone else says you should do something, how often do you want to do it? We often feel we are being forced, and even if we do it, there is often little “buy in” or enjoyment in the process. When these words are presented to me by others or myself, I like to make a slight adjustment. Replacing should with “could” brings up a whole different feeling in my body and I feel like I have a choice in the matter and that I’m not a “bad person” for whatever I decide to do. Let’s stop “should-ing” on ourselves. When confronted with need to, have to or must, simply take a moment and determine if we really do have to. We can then choose whether to leave it OR decide if we really want to do it? “I have to change the baby’s diaper.” Well, no, I technically don’t have to; I could just leave it. However, if I decide I don’t really want to leave it and want to have a happy baby, then I probably do want to change the diaper. Alternatives to these could be “want to,” “get to,” and “choose to.” 

Never and always. These are great words for black-and-white or all-or-none thinking. When you use these words, take a minute and consider if it might be an exaggeration. If you want to take it to the next level, try to find a few instances when you (or the “guilty party”) has or hasn’t said or done what you just accused them of always or never saying or doing. Most of us just let these words roll off our tongue without thinking about the truthfulness of their use. Many times it’s because we are frustrated to some extent, and we don’t want to admit that the always or never are, more often than not, an exaggeration. Other words that are good friends with never and always include everything, nothing, everyone, no one

The last words to reflect on are don’t (as in I don’t know) and can’t. When we think or say these words, it’s a signal to our brain that it doesn’t need to proceed in finding answers or solutions. It shuts the brain down. When I was in high school, my volleyball/basketball coach had us pay money every time we said the word, “can’t.” The money went towards our end of season banquet and many of us got proficient steering clear of the word… At least out loud 😉. Because of that, to this day the word, “can’t” makes me take pause, which indicates we can train ourselves to have awareness through these “trigger” words. 

What about you? What words have you tagged for bringing awareness to your thought processes? 

High Five!  

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Unlocking the Language of Emotion

By: Terri Hayes

Did you know that each emotion manifests itself in your body? Some of us are so in our heads, we struggle to note what is going on in our body and all we experience is a thought process.  

I was a skilled emotion shunner. I traced this behavior back to my childhood and I can remember distinct times where it was even a conscious decision. “Ain’t got no time for that” was my mantra when it came to emotions I didn’t want to face or deal with. It pains me some to realize now that acknowledging them more would have saved so much time and grief for not only me, but others in my life.  

When confronted with unpleasant emotions, various responses may emerge: 

  • Resist – This is akin to attempting to submerge a large beach ball underwater. You might achieve success temporarily, but it becomes a continual struggle, and inevitably, the ball resurfaces. The “resurfacing” doesn’t always manifest as an external loss of control; it can also materialize as discomfort or dis-ease within the body. 
  • React – Expressing emotions through actions like yelling, screaming, crying, eye-rolling, throwing objects, or even physically venting by punching a wall. It’s a misconception that reacting in this way equals processing an emotion, and that’s why some opt to resist or avoid, fearing a perceived loss of control. 
  • Avoid – We distract ourselves through activities like eating, drinking, scrolling social media, shopping, overworking (or overindulging in anything, for that matter), gaming, porn, and even engaging in behaviors like cleaning and exercise as ways to sidestep emotions. While most of these activities aren’t inherently negative, using them as a means to evade emotions can result in an overall adverse impact on our lives. 
  • Allow – Embracing emotions involves more than mere acknowledgment; it entails naming the emotion and then cultivating curiosity about how it physically manifests within us. Developing this skill is valuable and worth the effort, particularly for those proficient in the habits of resisting, reacting, or avoiding. It’s a practice that involves dedication and patience. 

It took me months to really grasp the art of allowing emotions. Many times, I felt like I just wasn’t ‘getting it,’ but looking back, I realized the process was unfolding all along. To my fellow left-brainers, patience is key! Everyone experiences emotions uniquely, so I stopped comparing my journey to others. What truly matters is discovering your own emotional navigation style. Through working with clients and observing numerous coaching sessions, a consistent pattern emerged – uncomfortable emotions often translate into a sense of closed or tightness, maybe even a ‘sinking’ feeling. On the flip side, emotions we enjoy tend to open us up, creating a sense of expansiveness. A good starting point is asking yourself: Do I feel tight/heavy/closed off, or do I feel free/expansive/open? And don’t forget, neutrality can find a comfortable place between those extremes. 

So, how can one start practicing to truly feel emotions in the body and allow every feeling? Here are a few approaches to get you started: 

Close your eyes and say and think about the word “love” or think of something that brings you joy, then pay attention to what happens in your body. For me, I have a very expansive feeling in my chest. Kind of like one of those fountain fireworks where the beautiful sparks emanate from the base and bloom upward and outward. It’s warm and unfurling. It may be similar for you, or you may feel or sense things in other parts of your body. Now, close your eyes and say and think about the word “hate” or think of a time you felt shamed. What’s going on in your body now? For me, I feel a tightness in my chest. Often, I envision a heavy object like a lead pipe sitting vertical alongside my sternum; or a heavy rock lodged in my chest or throat area.  

Another activity is to name an emotion, then do a body scan while continuing to name and think of the emotion. Experience what happens in your body. These are actual vibrations, sensations, tingles, movements, colors, in your body, not just thoughts.  

This process mirrors learning a new language. It calls for time, patience, and a genuine willingness to be vulnerable and honest with oneself. Embrace mistakes with a light-hearted attitude, treating them as valuable lessons rather than failures. 

There are no good or bad emotions. Our bodies are designed to experience every emotion and process them. Emotions serve as information; they are the messengers. Emotions aren’t obstacles; they are the path. 

If you’re ready to begin unlocking the language of your emotions and embracing every feeling, I’m here to guide you. Book a call with me, and together, let’s navigate the path to a deeper understanding of yourself and your emotions. It’s a transformative adventure worth taking! 

Join the discussing and leave a comment below 😊. 

High Five! 


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