How Emotions Are Made

How to get over self-sabotaging thoughts and feelings? Part 2 of 3.

How to get over self-sabotaging thoughts and feelings? Part 2 of 3.

This is the second of a three-part series about limiting beliefs: how to identify them, uncover their emotional power, and ultimately transform them into thoughts that “spark joy."
Click
here to read the first part.


It's 11:45am on a rainy Parisian spring day. I walk into an empty restaurant where I have plans to meet a friend for lunch an hour later. 


I tell the woman behind the counter that I’m early for lunch, but that I’d like to have a coffee and sit and work a bit before my friend arrives. 


“There’s no one in the kitchen now,” she snips. 


“That’s fine, I’m not ordering any food yet,” I say.


“How many will you be?” she asks. 


“Just two.”


She points to a table by the door and tells me that’s the only table for two that’s available. 


It’s raining and chilly outside and I ask whether I can sit somewhere further inside.


She points to another table in the back, by the toilets. 


I’m not feeling that location either. Especially since every single seat in the place is currently empty and it's just a casual, neighborhood place. 


I spot a little table for two on the cushioned couch in the center of the restaurant and ask if I can sit there. 


She rolls her eyes, let's out a huge exasperated sigh and nods “yes” reluctantly.  


I walk calmly over to the table, take off my backpack and my bright red raincoat. As I start to sit down I hear the dull thud of old coffee being banged out of the portafilter and the hissing of steam on the espresso machine. 


I turn around and say, “oh, I’d like an allongée” (an americano)  not the regular short café that I assume she’s starting to make.


She lets out another enormous sigh, so loud this time that I can feel her distain wash over my body like the Polar vortex.


My throat seizes, my heart starts racing. I want to scream and run out of there. 


In the 45 seconds that this entire scene unfolds a million thoughts have raced through my mind. 


“I hate this woman!”

“I’m going to walk out of here.”

“I’m going to leave a bad review on Yelp.”

“I should contact the owner and complain.” 

“This would never happen in America.”

“People are evil.”


The emotions that boiled up were a mix of hatred, anger, even guilt. ("How did I provoke this?")


And then I took a deep breath and thought about my last message to you about tracking self-sabotaging thoughts and feelings, which brought on a wave of new ones:


“She must be having a hard day.”

“This job clearly isn’t working out for her.”

“Interacting with humans is hard when you're miserable.”

“It’s not you Zeva, it’s her.”

“Write about this and you’ll feel better.”


I suddenly felt more calm, grounded, confident, and even grateful as I found the tools to transform this experience into something positive. 


How did that all happen? If we slow down the process frame-by-frame, like in a comic book, this is how thoughts and emotions work together.  (Click over to read more)

When Ideas Get Under Your Skin

When Ideas Get Under Your Skin

I had a very intimidating social studies teacher in High School named Mr Savage. 


He would walk into the classroom, silently go up to the blackboard, scribble a provocative open question, like “What is democracy?” in his chicken-scratch handwriting and then stare back at the class with his beady little eyes. (can you tell how much of a fan I was??)


He’d smile slyly with pinched lips revealing a little scar alongside his mouth. Then he’d gesture to the class to let the debate begin. 


I dreaded that moment. I was a shy and insecure adolescent and that kind of intellectual dogfighting made me shrink even further into my shell. 


Mr Savage didn’t give homework, but he did assign two big writing projects per year that were famously tough. For one project we had to propose our ideal presidential candidate and then argue and defend why we thought he or she should win.