A Powerful Tool for Unlocking Clarity and Objectivity
Hey friend, how'd the week go? ❤️🔥
I'm currently recovering from the whirlwind that is Disney World.
3D rides, 18k steps, and so much sugar. My feet are throbbing, but my kids are happy. That's parenting in a nutshell, isn't it?
(And, in case you were wondering: YES, the weird way I funded the trip was totally worth it and made the trip even more delicious.)
On that note:
Surrounded by all these theme park superheroes, I got to thinking about when I feel most like a superhero myself:
When I'm able to handle any bad vibes and make moves despite the mess in my head.
So, I'm dedicating this week's edition entirely to that topic...
How can I gain perspective and clarity when overwhelmed with emotion?
Before we dive in, a quick shoutout to YOU. Thank you for being here and for working on yourself. You're the true GOAT. 🐐
And if you know someone who's struggling, shoot them this article. Let's give people tools to improve their lives—for themselves and everyone surrounding them, too. 👏
Alright, onto the good stuff.
When was the last time you felt an uncomfortable emotion?
Stuck. Upset. Annoyed. Regretful. Uncertain. Out of control. Overwhelmed.
Pick your poison.
Chances are you felt one of them at some point today. Or maybe you're feeling one right now?
Welcome to the club. We all bump up against unwanted emotions—it's a part of being human—but, most of the time, it's honestly unnecessary.
Stubbing your toe can either be the thing that ruins your day or no biggie. Your coworker's feedback can either hurt your ego or give you an idea to keep in your back pocket.
It's up to us which we choose.
I've picked up strategies that help me choose chill over getting in the muck, and I'll share one of my favorites with you today. It's my go-to to detangle from tough emotions, get unstuck, and move forward in a productive way.
The best part? It has the power to help you in practically any situation. Because you never know what you'll encounter.
Being in the right mindset opens up ways to gain fresh insights and perspectives that can help you make better decisions and improve your quality of life, sans yucky emotions.
That's through dissociating, or detaching a bit from life around you.
I know "dissociating" can sound like a scary scientific term, but it's actually incredibly helpful in tricky scenarios—a powerful tool that can help you gain objectivity when you need it.
Think about it this way:
Everything we feel, think, and say is first made up of our internal experiences: the internal audio, feelings, and images that we conjure up in our minds. So, when we think back to a memory, we can hear what was said, visualize what we saw, and even remember the feeling of hunger way after the fact.
All in our mind's eye.
The same applies to our future. In your mind, you can imagine seeing, hearing, and feeling your experience on an upcoming beach vacation.
This inner experience is the raw material we work with to create everything we do in the outside world.
Change the inner experience to change the outer experience.
And that's where dissociating comes in to save the day.
At every moment of your life, you choose whether you want to experience it:
associated: zoomed in and completely focused on what's happening and what you're feeling, or
dissociated: zoomed out and detached from what's going on.
It can mean the difference between being an optimist or a pessimist, being calm or afraid, keeping your love alive or allowing it to fizzle.
Optimists focus on positives, detach from negatives, ride the wave of successes, and don't let setbacks define them. Pessimists focus on negatives, detach from positives, let past failures weigh them down, and forget their successes, which can be a real momentum-killer. (More on this in a bit.)
So how can you tell if you're in an associated or dissociated state?
Pay attention to your emotions.
If you're feeling disconnected or numb, it might be time to zoom in and reconnect with your emotions: pinpoint what you're feeling and why. This'll help process your emotions in a healthy way. (You can always detach again if you need a break.)
On the other hand, if you're feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or upset, it might be time to detach and zoom out to help you see things from a fresh perspective and avoid getting stuck in a negative loop.
Dissociation is how we combat the unwanted emotions we experience. Our bodies are actually built for it.
Dissociating makes you feel better in negative situations, but it also helps change your actions, too.
Personally, what I love about dissociation isn't necessarily how it makes me feel, though that's great. Dissociating helps me access new information—a gold mine of insights. With that new intel, I can then make better or different decisions.
I'll walk you through my three favorite ways to dissociate when I'm stuck in an unwanted emotion.
1. Horizontal timeline of your life
The first way I like to dissociate is to zoom out and take a look at the big picture of my life in a horizontal way, as a timeline of sorts.
This is especially useful when I'm:
upset about something big that's happened
trying to process failure
struggling with a tough choice
First, imagine your life as a timeline, stretching from the day you were born on the left all the way to your eventual death on the right. (Sorry?)
Now, place your dicey scenario within that timeline. Where does it fit? Is it large or small?
The broader perspective puts things in context and sheds new light on the situation. Now that you've viewing it on the broader timeline of your life, ask yourself:
How does it look now?
Does it seem more or less important than before?
Do I feel any differently than I did before?
Do I feel more optimistic or pessimistic?
The goal here is never to force a new perspective on you but to gain more information that can lead to making a better decision and feeling more relaxed or at peace.
2. Hover above your life
The second way I like to dissociate is to imagine myself floating above or around the situation to view it like I'm watching a movie.
This is especially useful when I'm:
frustrated with other people's behavior, like my kids procrastinating their bedtime routine
upset about the state of my life, like if I haven't had enough sleep
No matter what, I always end up with new information or a new perspective that helps me behave more lovingly toward the people around me.
There are some situations we can't change at the flip of a switch, but there are ways to handle them with more grace and peace.
Of all the ways to dissociate, hovering above my life is also easiest for me to do. Imagination is the key to dissociation, and watching my life as a movie is easiest for me to imagine at the drop of a hat.
Because we're not actually detaching from our lives, we're just doing it mentally. The fact that this one is easiest for me means it's always in my back pocket, ready for me to deploy when I need it.
3. Third person observer
I don't know about you, but my strongest unwanted emotions come from dealing with a tough situation with someone else. Interpersonal conflict is the worst. It's like trying to navigate a minefield blindfolded.
This third way I use dissociation is my secret weapon for that. It's my go-to when I'm:
struggling with a relationship, like a spicy coworker
arguing with my husband (let's be real, marriage can be rough)
To do it, I imagine myself stepping back and observing the situation from a neutral perspective as an imaginary third person in the scenario. Here's how I do it:
I take a step back and imagine I'm a stranger, watching the situation unfold in front of me. I picture myself as a cool, calm, collected observer, maybe like Morgan Freeman narrating my life.
Taking a third-person perspective helps me understand everyone's point of view and communication patterns—the bigger picture.
This mental exercise can help you see things in a whole new light. Try this out yourself next time you're in a disagreement of some sort. For each person in the conflict, including yourself, ask:
What's driving their behavior?
What are their goals and motivations?
What do they believe is true about this scenario?
Pro tip: Make sure you're talking about yourself in the third person. If you're using the word "I" to refer to yourself, you're associated. Using the third person keeps you dissociated.
When you're done, go back to your own perspective and ask yourself: what did I learn from all of this, or what is different now?
How to dissociate
If you're in need of a powerful tool when you're feeling those unwanted emotions—upset, stuck, overwhelmed—try dissociating and see if it helps.
Who knows, it may just be the key to unlocking a whole new world of possibilities.
That being said, these three strategies are the ones that work for me. There are a ton of others you could try out, or come up with your own remix.
What matters is finding a strategy that works for you and helps you feel better and move around the world in a way that aligns with your unique values.
Everyone is different, so try out these strategies or think of your own to figure out what works for you.
When you do that, you'll improve life for everyone around you, too.
Showing up in a positive mental and emotional state is golden. It'll allow you to behave the way you want to with your family, friends, coworkers, or the strangers you run into on the street.
It's the ultimate way to "be the change" you'd like to see in the world.
Dissociating isn't a solution to a problem. It's a way to explore the best solutions to a problem, all while feeling more relaxed.
Because who wants to feel yucky emotions? Not me. I don't want that for you, either.
That's where our superpower comes in. We can become pros at managing our emotions and reading those of others.
Having that kind of insight is pretty dope.
And all you need is your imagination. By working with you experience on the inside—what you see, hear and feel in your mind—you can change what you experience on the outside.
Change your inner experience to change your outer experience.
You got this.
Okay, time to take this for a spin in your own life. None of this matters unless you try it out in the real world.
Reply back with which strategy you tried and how it went for you.
Hearing from you all is the best part of my day.
Sending you all the best vibes ✨
— Marcella ✌️
A penny for your thoughts
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