Getting Bigger: Holding Difficult Emotions with Spaciousness

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“What is not felt remains the same” - Eugene Gendlin

This practice comes from Ann Weiser Cornell, an expert on the psychotherapeutic Focusing technique. This mindfulness and somatic awareness exercise can help you get a handle on overwhelming emotions, calm your nervous system and gain a clearer perspective. 

The practice begins with simply shifting your language so that you can access a more spacious and less reactive perspective as the compassionate witness to your internal experience. 

Getting Bigger Practice by Ann Weiser Cornell

1. Pause 

◆ As you move through your day, give yourself opportunities to pause, check-in with yourself and become more aware of your body and the feeling states. If there is a difficult emotion present simply pause to notice it.

2. Something In Me

◆ As you describe the feeling, see what happens when you shift from saying “I feel___” to “Something in me feels___.”

E.g “I feel worried” → “Something in me feels worried”

◆ Notice if this shift in language helps you to become an observer of your feelings. Did you gain any more distance or spaciousness?

◆ The idea is that you are still in contact with the feeling but YOU have gotten bigger. With a little distance, see if you can turn towards the feeling with compassion, and not fight, suppress or over-identify with it. 

3. Saying Hello

◆ Next, say hello to the feeling":

“Something in me is worried and I'm saying hello to it.”

◆ By saying hello you are practicing bringing an attitude of radical acceptance and friendliness towards anything that is arising in your internal experience.

◆ What is it like to welcome and accept the feeling, rather than fight, suppress or judge it?

◆ Can you feel how the rest of you is spacious and whole, even when a part of you isn't?

4. Gentle Touch

◆ The last step is to place a gentle soothing hand on the part of you that feels bad. 

◆ This physical gesture can deepen the attitude of friendliness & acceptance and is a reminder that you are accompanying yourself through this experience.

◆ Do you feel your body relaxing or any tension releasing?

◆ Continue to witness the feeling from your compassionate observer perspective and notice what happens. Practice bringing an attitude of openness to this exercise without trying to force an outcome. 

This practice can help you get bigger than your feelings so that you can be the steady rock holding and tending towards your experience. See for yourself what a difference it can make!