Are You Too Sensitive to Have a Business? - Christine Kane

In the Uber-Human, Hyper-Efficient, Success-Driven world of business, little attention is given to emotions. (Have you noticed?) Instead, focus is placed on efficiency, strategy, action, and goals.

What happens, then, is that people who feel deeply or are sensitive find that this approach doesn’t work. We wonder if perhaps we just weren’t meant to be successful or efficient or goal-oriented. Or worse, that something is wrong with us.

Nothing is wrong with you. And yes, you can still succeed in business.

Here are some perspectives from my business journey that may help you navigate your emotions, and quit positioning yourself as the hapless victim of them.

Are Your Emotions the “Truth”?

I began doing healing work in my early 20’s when I healed bulimia without drugs or Western medicine. Energy healing, acupuncture, homeopathy, massage, retreats, meditation and other modalities…all contributed in some way to my wellness.

But at one point, I realized my emotions were often stuck in a default pattern.

I’d end up feeling the same old things, in spite of my progress. With no small amount of pride, I chalked it up to being more sensitive, authentic, and emotional than this cold cold world. (A Portrait of the Artist as a Drama Queen.) I got more and more drained by these patterns.

That’s when I learned about the “untruth” of emotions.

I was at a retreat. The leader offered the perspective that we don’t have emotions. Instead, we “do” emotions. She said that, yes, we might feel them. But we choose to DO them.

I got my biggest a-ha not from what the teacher said, but from how the person next to me reacted. This person rolled her eyes, and huffed, “Oh please.”

I saw myself in her reaction. I saw how vehemently I clung to “my truth!” I saw my own self-righteousness and attachment. In other words, “Don’t challenge my feelings! They’re my version of the truth that I want to hear! And that truth is that I’m sensitive and caring. And you aren’t!”

From that day on, even in my worst emotional attacks, I felt this little inner-observer watching me with curiosity, scratching her chin and thinking, “Hmmmm. Now, I’m doing insecurity. Now I’m doing fear. Now I’m doing hopelessness.”

So was I, in fact, “doing” these emotions?

85% of the time, I was.

The challenge, then, was how to choose differently.

Can You Choose Your Emotions?

When someone says that you can choose an emotion, it might piss you off at first. Emotions just are, aren’t they? Emotions happen!

It takes a high degree of awareness, attention and persistence, but you can choose differently.

I’ve actually made myself stop all activity until I was able to raise my emotional level even a notch. Sometimes this has required me to simply just take what Tara Brach calls a “sacred pause.” It means I sit still and breathe. When the stillness brings more calm, I will ask the question, “Is this feeling true?”

Other times, I have opted for an NLP technique, like focusing my eyes upwards and breathing. (This usually works best right when you catch the emotion or the thought coming on.)

And there have been times when I’ve just said to myself, “Nope! Not putting my energy there right now!”

How you make a different choice comes with practice. This is a process that takes time. (I can’t stress this part enough!) But it is possible.

Start with a sacred pause when you find yourself struck with a highly charged emotion. Sit quietly, hands on heart. Breathe deeply for at least 5 minutes. And then ask yourself, “Is this true?” That’s enough to create a pattern interrupt.

How Emotions Feed Your Ego

In his book, A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle teaches that some emotions serve only as food for the ego or “pain body.” The emotion may feel debilitating, but in actuality, it’s building you up. In the world of the ego, you become “morally superior” to the situation you’re reacting to. You inflate.

When you’re raging at the traffic, you make yourself “morally superior” to the traffic. If you furiously state that rich people are all greedy bastards and that wealth is achieved by unconscious people, then you become “morally superior” to wealth.

Even when you’re deflated in your emotions – guilt, for instance – you feed your ego. It gets to feed on the identity of being “wrong” or “less than” — which can evolve into being “more sensitive than the rest of the world.” (Which conveniently makes you morally superior. Hah!) Emotions can be tricksters. The ego’s smoke and mirrors.

My experience has taught me that many emotions keep us stuck (and safe). In business, for instance, if you want to raise your prices, you may have to deal with the emotions that come up if someone says no, or accuses you of being greedy. For many of my clients, that’s a huge pattern to work with.

You might not want to have to face all of those feelings, so you play it safe and don’t change your pricing. Or you don’t expand your business.  The pattern locks in. Then you tell yourself you’re lazy. You label yourself a procrastinator.

But really you’re just staying safe.

You might say that you “can’t take” all that rejection. But what you really can’t take is what you’re telling yourself about all that rejection. Emotions can be powerful teachers.

Is it Emotion? Or is it a Story?

The biggest awakening I’ve had is recognizing how many of my emotions aren’t even emotions. They’re really just “stories.” When I sit quietly and allow an emotion to be there, I often enforce this rule: No Stories Allowed. (Stories can range from “Poor me” to “Why bother?” to “No one wants me” to “These idiots always screw everything up!” to “I’ll never get this right!”)

When I can sit with the emotion, allowing just the emotion to be there without the story that accompanies it, the emotion dissipates pretty quickly. This is good. It allows me to experience that energy without repressing it.

Emotions are really not that big of a deal when there’s no story to anchor on to them. Emotions just are.

The Real Lesson Behind Your Business and Your Intentions

One year, in late September, my client Tina called me in a panic. At the beginning of the year, she had done a goal-setting process I teach called The Commitment to Uplevel. She had set a goal to make $250,000 in her business by the end of the year. She was at $169,000 – nowhere close to her goal.

She was in the midst of an emotional attack of shame.

Let’s be honest. Most business coaches would tell you to get over it.  They’d say, “Hustle!” Drive hard! And kick. that. goal’s. ass.

For some, this works. We’re a culture of achievers! We get shit done, right?

But with my sensitive clients, this is a surefire shame spiral.  So I took a different path. I coached her about power and relationship.

I told her to remain connected to this goal. I told her that setting goals teaches us more about our relationship to those goals than anything else. In this case, she was learning about an old pattern of berating and shaming herself. I coached her to simply stay in relationship to her number and watch these patterns as they unfold. We created a marketing plan for the coming months – but it didn’t involve kicking anything’s ass or crushing some mysterious “it.”  

Guess what? She chilled out. And a few amazing opportunities fell in her lap in October. She stayed present and took action.  A few more prospects came her way in November. And by December 31, she hit $246K.

Was she bummed that she didn’t hit her exact goal number? Not at all.

The reason I encourage emotional types to set goals and really OWN their business is because of the great expansion that come with this territory. If you approach your intentions and your business with clarity and awareness, you get to see all of your resulting emotional moments for what they are: old thought patterns.


If you are sensitive and/or emotional, consider that you’re in business because it provides so many opportunities to break out of old patterns, to nurture yourself, to set boundaries, and to become clear.

In fact, some of my most “sensitive” clients have become the most “attractive” entrepreneurs because their sensitivity ultimately makes them better marketers, communicators, and leaders.  They are authentic. People are drawn to them.

So, are you up for it? Are you willing to reframe your emotions so that you can expand into a higher level of relationship with your business?  Do tell!

  • Patty

    I stumbled across your blog when I did a search for badass marketing blogs. I absolutely love this blog post. I am also a recovered bulimic. It’s taken me over 20 years to quit that cycle. It’s an emotional disorder. I got so much out of this post. I am an empath and a highly sensitive person. My children call me emo mom. I am presently working with a business coach. He doesn’t use the exact same strategies as you, but he has helped me to really answer my own questions and take action, instead of spiraling with my emotions. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog today. From one badass to another, you rock! I am actually going to try to incorporate some of your suggestions into my life. I meditate, journal, and use quite a few strategies to manage my emotions.

  • Kim

    This post really hit home for me. I just finished an online class called the gift of Empathy. All about how special and different we are and the different ways we need to take care of ourselves, and all the additional challenges we face compared to “normal” people. But it didn’t sit well with me. I felt disempowered after reading it. That kind of mind set just keeps you stuck in the patterns telling yourself “well this is who I am so I can’t change that. I’m just stuck”.

    I love how your post goes way deeper than that and shatters through all those invisible and seemingly powerful barriers. We don’t have to be our story. It takes courage to look past the story we’ve created for ourselves. Thank you for inspiring me to look deeper.

    You are a brilliant light to many many people. Thank you.

    • Christine Kane

      Thanks Kim! And as for the disempowering feeling – I remember when I was first exploring mindsets (way back when I was crazy addicted in eating disorder land) — I don’t think I could’ve possibly even absorbed this kind of message – and if I tried, it would’ve been laced with shame. So I do think there is a place for the message of the online course you are in. My experience of growth has been that, at first, the self-awareness must be combined with empathy and compassion – and sometimes that means reveling in the story for a bit. 🙂

  • David J Williams (Undakova)

    Potent article right here.

  • Shannon Smith

    This validated so much within my soul! I have gone to sooooo many business seminars and mentorship things and I always end up feeling less than, like a failure, like a lazy sack of dung MESS! That’s what they do … they tell you all the stuff you need to do to be successful… and if you aren’t doing most of those…. well that means you are already behind, screwed and need fixing. You have to let it go, put on your big girl panties, be positive, be relevant, maybe you should close your business…. etc etc etc etc. all of that stuff deflates me!

    • Christine Kane

      Shannon – In my experience, that stuff is one level of it. But it doesn’t take into account the role of wisdom. It’s so cookie-cutter that it’s almost laughable. But there is always some nugget of truth to be found, too!

  • Meg

    This popped into my email today in the middle of a meltdown. Feeling exactly that I could not go on because I am too emotional. Ha! Preparing to release a new CD and to do it right this time – I released my first solo CD 17 years ago and didn’t follow through, except in a very small way because I was still a single mom and it all felt overwhelming. It’s still overwhelming, but it’s time to let go of my self-made limitations, and just shine my light. Wish me luck!!
    And thank you for all the inspiration — I love your music, and I’ve been reading your posts for years.

  • Jo

    That was a fatastic post! Hit me right where I live and you clearly spelled out what I have grappled with for years. Thank you!

  • Kelli

    Best blog ever, Christine! Definitely will go down as a favorite! Radical Acceptance and Stillness Speaks to this day are two of my favorite reads. Life changing for me! We create our emotions in our mind…and that’s often a shit storm of myths because the chatter in our mind is most often a hot mess of assumptions, personalizations, other voices, and old thought patterns…all of which are simply not true. Only our circumstances are true. We get to decide how to think and then feel in response to them. <3

  • Stephanie

    This email caught my eye just as I was closing out of my account and I quickly got back in to read it. I knew I was being led to see this info. Truth be told I was hoping you would say, “yep, you’re definitely too emotional to succeed.” So I could just stop worrying about it already and accept it! 🙂
    I kinda knew it wouldn’t pan out that way 🙂 I’m connected to my stories for sure. I just got back into an MLM after 3 years of walking away from one I saw success with saying, “I would never do that again!” The emotional beating I gave myself after that was intense and I fueled a lot of negative stories during that time. I truly feel I have an unbeatable opportunity now and the people are out of this world and I have been getting a better response than I ever have before……in creep my old stories and I’m all of a sudden paralyzed with anxiety, fear and all of my usual “people are tired of me” “Im not a good enough leader” “I am full of excuses and can’t stay focused or consistent” ” I’m one of those people I can’t stand” “I’m have no idea how to do this fast and with urgency, like the truly successful people” ….I could keep going.
    I have to grow past this and rise above, I can’t live with this guilt and inner defeat of not being able to make this work.
    Seriously, why couldn’t you just have said I was super special and way too emotional to succeed but not to worry the universe would find away to bring me my beach front home, total financial freedom, time freedom with my family and the ability to travel while homeschooling my daughter just for being the emotional creature I am??? 😉 I needed this article and now I need help getting through this little barrier. Thanks for sharing this ♡

    • Christine Kane

      Stephanie – You ARE super special. 🙂 AND all of your emotions are really just empathy and sensitivity that brings a real depth to your work and clients – and once you learn how to work with that, you’ll start to navigate the finances and money stuff with more ease!

  • Namrata

    Thanks Christine!

    This article was just nail on its head!
    I deff needed a pick me up as been having massive emotional moments as i build a brand new life.
    Scary as heck but also strangely peaceful…..



  • Belinda Smith

    This is one of my favorite posts you’ve ever written!!!!

  • Erin Newman

    “If you are sensitive and/or emotional, consider that you are in business because it provides so many opportunities to break out of old stories, to nurture yourself, to set boundaries, and to become clear. In fact, some of my most “sensitive” clients have become the most “attractive” entrepreneurs because their sensitivity ultimately makes them better leaders and much more authentic. People are drawn to them.”

    So timely, Christine. I have been thinking so much lately about how we are the ones who determine how we value ourselves and how we value what we do – and how important that sense of value is for all of us spiritualpreneurs to get in touch with (which ties into what you wrote about goal-setting for emotional types). On this topic, you have said in the past “stretch not splatter”, which I remind myself of often and also use with clients.

    Thank you. For all that you do.

  • Patti


    This one really hit home for me, so I must respond. I have always thought that I WAS my emotion! Friends & family have always told me I’m the sensitive one, and a recent employer told me I was an emotional one. I’ve always thought to myself…well that’s not a bad thing is it, even though sometimes I admit I would use that fact to make myself feel better after an argument or confrontation. Well, now I know what to do to change the story, thank you!! At least I’m sure going to try!!! Thank you!

  • Rupali

    Amazing – really really special to read this today – and a lot of power in your message – thank you!

    Love and warm regards,


  • Jeannette

    Good Morning, your emails always seem to have perfect timing. Really need to read this, this morning.

  • Lindy

    AWESOME article, Christine! 🙂
    No reply needed, just sending Kudos and love your way!

  • Kate

    Wow Christine! Thank you so much for the post! This is truly valuable for myself and many others!

    I am always torn between feeling that my feelings make me special or that they are my downfall. This article helped me bridge the two. They are both – but I can decide which story to play out! I have been working on awareness and pattern breaking and I believe this will help me step it up. 🙂

    Thanks again!!!

  • Anam

    Hello Christine

    Man, I wish i could choose my emotions. I tried it for years but my emotions keep hurting me. I hate how people say i choose how i feel or that i am weak or that they say “others have it worse, now get over it”. If i could choose to be happy i would. I nearly always have stress, anxiety and anger. I try to choose my emotions like everyone can but it only keep getting worser and worser.

    And being sensitive is terrible. My emotions have ruined a 99% my life and keep ruining things for me and i get the blame for it because people think I am in full control of my emotions and action. But i rarely even get to choose my actions.

    Just because others are in control of themselves, doesn’t mean i am. I REALLY wish i could choose my emotions, but as I said, i doesn’t work out. Not even any therapist or professional help and strong medicine could help me, it keep getting worser and worse. Any of my actions and emotions are automatic and uncontrollable, even if i try my hardest, they fully control me. If have tried for many years to control any of my emotions or even action.

    Sorry if i am bothering you with my problems. Delete this if you think this is inapropriate.

    • Christine Kane

      Anam – I don’t think you are alone at all.

      What you are describing is a common way of being for many – and I too have experienced not ‘choosing” the emotions I have.

      But what I have realized is that there is a pattern of it – and i can get locked in to that pattern. Meaning that yes, I am out of control when that happens – but there are things I can do to make the pattern less likely to keep on that same trajectory.

      Unfortunately, I am not in a position to help you. But I can tell you a few of the things that have helped me:

      1) understanding the enneagram. In particular, a book called The Wisdom of the Enneagram. When I discovered I was a “4” (a VERY emotion-prone type) I could take steps to release the grip that this pattern had on me

      2) diet and nutrition. i could see how my eating was profoundly hurting me. I read a book called “Keto Adapted” by Maria Emmerich – and though that didn’t solve all of my problems – i could see that sugar and other processed foods were hurting me.

      and 3) meditation – which i now do everyday. I started with 5 minutes a day. Susan Piver has written several books that are great helps and motivators for meditation.

      I hope this helps a little bit. You’re not abnormal. And people around you are probably not doing quite as perfectly as you think. 🙂 This kind of a concept of choosing emotions is a guideline – and works at many levels. But it is not the ultimate fix.

  • Danny

    There’s a certain “good” feeling in negative emotions and I don’t mean feeling good as in moving up the emotional scale. I mean sometimes it feels easier to dwell in negative feelings, like doubts and worries. It’s these situations that are extremely challenging and cause you to not be able to move forward. In these situations I’ll try to pull out every trick I can think of to not let my mind get lost in a pool of negativity, because you know once you fall in it gets harder to get out. I’m glad you are sharing your emotional awareness. I think that’s the key in all of this, just to be aware so that we can consciously choose how we want to feel.

    I’ve had the experience of being in a fantastic state of love that was so powerful that I didn’t care about a negative thing in the world. I’m still riding that wave :). And it’s my goal to stay up as long as I can. I’ve learned that with practice, I can maintain good feelings for much longer than I ever have before and it’s really wonderful. And I use my awareness to not let things get to me. But it’s something that requires much perseverance, but I believe the rewards are worthwhile. I’m just sharing my perspective to show my appreciation for the subject.

  • Christine Kane

    Thank you Michelle. And I know what you mean. I always learned so much because I constantly put myself in the part of the student. At one point, I really intended and chose to start seeing myself as a teacher. It was a practical conscious choice. I *still* read other people and still look to others for help because I (and you!) will never be done, but it has been hugely liberating to not look to the approval of others and to start honoring my choices and decisions. I absolutely KNOW you can do the same – and therein lies all healing! Thanks for your kind words. I’m honored to be one of those voices that gets you “back on track.” We all need those voices – no matter what stage of growth in which we find ourselves.

  • Michelle


    This was a great post. Thank you. Simple and to the point.

    I have been walking my spirutal path for maybe 15 years now and I find that the biggest obstacle in my why to healing (I have been sick for about 10 of those years, very sick for the last 6)is that to truly embrace this path you have to first acknowledge your own worth, value, talent and unlimited strenght and power.

    What I appreciate about your writing is that you seem to have found a way to embrace all of these things in yourself. You can see and feel the value in your thoughts. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be sharing them or teaching. 🙂

    I on the other hand, am a smart, still youngish woman who is convinced that everyone else knows better than I do (Even thought many people in my life often come to me for advice or insight, and I am very often able to assist them)I am always seeing out teachers, books, blogs (wink) to tell me what I already know and to help me get back on track so that I will heal already.

    But it is not so much fear of rejection from someone else(you used the example above of a writer not trying to get published for fear of being turned down)I can’t get past rejecting myself.

    anyway – clearly I have lots of work to do and I pray that it does not take me another 15 years to get to the point, but I just wanted to write and say thank you for sharing your insights and offer up a round of applause to you for acknowledging yourself as writer, musician and teacher and for having the courage to share your perspectives with those who are willing to listen.

    As an artist, you are uniuqe, and if you didn’t express what what inside of you, the world would surely miss out.

    (Now – if I could only find a way to believe that about myself and begin to act on it, then I would start making some real progress back to health)

    But your writing was another good push in that direction.

    Best of luck to you,


  • christine

    oh my. Joy was right. This post did get lots of comments. And I’m behind!

    BridgeGirl, if you click on NLP in this post, you can read about it. NeuroLinguistic Programming. (It’s late, so I might have that wrong.) It’s practical, and it works. I highly recommend some of the processes.

    Dave, Thanks for that comment/post! (You added much to my writing. Time to start your own blog, huh?) No, I’m not saying that emotions are bad at all. I just know how we can revel in the beliefs that they are all “the truth.” Great insights there!

    barbb, yes, printing out these long posts will be necessary for some! (especially you tactile poets!) Thanks for the thoughts and the honesty. Of course all of this takes time and persistence. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have to write about it!

    Danielle, well hooray for improvement! Thanks for the thoughts and funny story!

    Anne, Always great to get a pet metaphor in issues like these! Thanks for sharing all that. Truly delightful. (My dog is just kind of a free spirit, and we have an agreement that she gets to be like that… but mostly is obedient and listens!) And yes, i agree on that awareness thing. Constant.

    Hi Alan! And thanks for the very high compliment. There are lots of good posts out there! And happy new year to you as well…

  • Alan!

    Synchronicities again.

    Best post I’ve read for a while, and very timely.

    Best wishes for the new year.


  • anne

    Hi Christine,
    I am truly impressed at how clearly you explain this complicated ‘truth’!

    I also had some breakthroughs with this sort of idea about 7 years ago. I was stuck on identifying myself in a victim-like state brought on by some events of my childhood that I was finding difficult to move beyond. It wasn’t until I saw my attachment to the ‘story’ and the resulting (optional) emotional quagmire that I began to gain some different and better perspective.
    I think I have vacillated between being too withdrawn from emotional sensitivity on one side and being too engaged with ‘stories’ and emotional responses on the other. It IS a powerful place in the middle….! And still takes constant awareness for me to remain there.
    Weirdly, I have also been learning tremendous things about ‘responding’ from having a dog. We adopted her when she was about 5 months old and she was incredibly sweet and also a bit wild. I vowed to train her well and make her well-mannered. It was frustrating to me when despite all the treats in the world, she didn’t listen, didn’t seem interested in what I wanted and would not walk nicely on a leash. It was not until I saw an episode of the Dog Whisperer (and I don’t like much of his approach in general), that I realized I was not simply ‘responding’, I was reacting to her undesirable behavior. The dog is not deliberately trying to irritate me, she is just reacting to a squirrel or smells or whatever. In order for me to be an effective ‘teacher’ to my dog (and to enjoy our relationship more and for her to respect me more!), I needed to let go of any frustration and stop taking my dog’s behavior personally. And after I realized that, it feels ridiculous getting annoyed with her.
    She is now a year or so old and sits, downs, catches treats in her mouth, shakes paws, twirls around, rolls over, mostly walks well on the leash, and when we in the yard, absolutely steadfastly refuses to come when called…. 🙂

  • Danielle

    Its eerie how much I’ve been thinking about this topic of late and how appropo your post was for me today. I’ m starting to learn from using ‘Respond’ this year that I have much more power over myself and surprisingly, my environment. There is definitely something to be said for the energy you bring to a situation and I’m really pleased at the ability to diffuse my instant negativity that focusing on that word brings me. Its exciting, powerful stuff.

    Thanks for another great post!

    (p.s. And the “oh holy s&*^ of a dinner invite from a past love only caused two minutes of abject panic and less than ten seconds of “do my feelings mean ____ or ____ ?” before I shook it off and laughed at the short circuits I’ve gotten stuck in. Ahh… improvement!)

  • barbb

    thanks for this post. several thoughts strike me as I read this. This whole process takes a LONG, LONG time. I want success yesterday and this really sets me up for frustration when I feel that I am going backwards. I see now that I am reacting to “my stuff” at work and as I read the post I can feel the emotions lift. Also the “work stuff” is a story, i just have to think quietly about not getting pissed off and choose to look at the story and then change the direction to calmness. (Hope this makes sense) this self monitoring stuff is a challenge but it works with a bunch of practice and determination not to slip back. relapses are allowed.

    to all the closet poets, when I go for a long spell without getting an acceptance I ask myself why I am writing and the answer is for me. If I am happy with my writing it really doesn’t matter what the editor thinks. And know the sending stuff out is a crap shoot, the editor may like you or not but you still write for yourself.
    I got to run this off and look at the hard copy so ican write on it being the concrete person I am. thanks Christine. bb

  • Dblwyo

    You’ve obviously walked a long, challenging path of self-nurturing and your sharing the results is much appreciated. One of things especially interesting is how simply, in day-to-day ‘ordinariness’ you put your thoughts and tools – as you say, hmmm. This is a particularly valuable post that way and it took some contemplation but don’t under-estimated yourself/selves on the emotional side of the mountain. When the bear goes over to see the ‘muy mucho macho’ as Robin Williams calls it one of his very funny but true drive-by comments you’ll find that there’s as much, but different, emotions over there.

    And that the Tony Robbins, Zig Zigler arm-waving stuff isn’t really given much credence by the effectives. Rather it’s grasped at and clung to by the folks looking for any answer but their own. A lot of the time they/we supress to emotion to get thru crisis but the really truly effective execs and leaders accept and know emotion and manage and accept them in themselves and others.

    Perhaps the key difference is learning to accept we’re all emotional but that one needs to learn to manage those emotions ? Consciously and positively ? Rather than let the emotions manage and control you.

    Some years ago there was a bunch of work done in the OCD labs at UCLA med school and the very earliest brain map pictures found the pictures of how the currents flowed. In trying to develop a workable therapy – there’s not been much success – the M.D. in charge complemented showing the patients the maps, teaching them Buddhist ‘minfulness’ meditation and then having second/third stage actions to displace the bad behaviors – slowly – onto good things. Just the early stages showed profound differences on the most basic bio-chemical neurocognition maps. Sorry to get fancy there but the point is emotions are real things and they can be managed. It just takes enormous learning to discover that and that we can then learn to self-consciously re-train them to positive outcomes.

    Also interestingly a lot of the theory the treatments appealed to were William James work on Psychology from the 1890s that was lost and ignored as we all got wrapped up in the subconscious meat machine dominates our reactions and is beyond our control. James started with basic physiology as well and built up his whole Psychology from there. Yet it’s only in the last ten years or so that the modern profession is moving beyond looking at all the bad stuff and re-considering the things he studied over a 100 years ago.

    While we’re waiting an interesting little book is James’ “Talks to Teachers” which embeds all his pscy work on the mind, processes, habits and conscious self-development thru re-structuring ‘habits’ into a set of simple lectures. Adjusting for language it’s not a bad complete manual to consider.

    The doing of course is another little problem.

    FWIW my point, if there is, one is that emotions are o.k. The trick is to learn to accet them but make better choices by re-directing their energies and not getting trapped. A path I’m just starting so it’s every encouraging to see how far along you and your readers are and all these different perspectives.

  • bridgegirl

    I so appreciate reading all of the comments and seeing links to even more great information.


  • Caren

    Mm-hmm… I used to do that when I journaled, just be negative, negative, negative. I didn’t even realize it until a few years ago I went to a drum camp weekend, which ended up being a spiritual retreat — the drums just opened my heart right up! And when I came back home and read my journal… yuck. I saw it from an entirely different perspective. And made the decision to burn that journal in a huge bonfire at the Lake Eden Arts Festival! Since then, I haven’t sunk so low in my writing where it’s just complain, whine, and moan. And even less so after reading “Ask and It Is Given” and seeing “What the Bleep Do We Know”. (have yet to see The Secret) Thanks for the reminder!

  • christine

    Caren, I’ve been hearing more and more about consensual living, and it’s really fascinating. I congratulate you for being a conscious and aware mother. If you had to lose some connection to your “self” with anything, it seems that mothering would be the best place to do that! The one suggestion I woud offer for morning pages is to watch this very thing with them. I think morning pages are great for people who are unaware of their own feelings, unaware of what they want… it can open things up for those people. HOWEVER, for those of us who pretty much steep in feeling and emotion, morning pages can be a little bit like wallowing. I’m in a place where I write as an exercise…I describe things, I revel in things… but I don’t dwell or wallow. I don’t know what kind of rule you’d call it… but if you begin morning pages again, watch that part of you that wants to use them to whine! Yes, I like Erin a lot. Steve’s blog is good for me because his very mental perspective sometimes opens me up a little to say, “hmm. I never thought of it that way!”

    • Michelle Smith

      Two things:
      One — I especially appreciated the idea of being in relationship with goals as a practice for revealing old thought and emotional patterns. I’m much more attracted to goal-setting now with this as the purpose. (And I’m rolling my eyes a little bit at myself. Duh! As a person on a lifelong path of growth and expansion, isn’t this the purpose of everything in my life?!) I love new A-Ha’s!

      And two — I’m super excited to have learned about this “consensual living” movement. In my business I coach, facilitate and train groups in collaborative governance and consent-based decision-making. This principle of Consent has been a huge game-changer for me. Our processes for making decisions together and implementing those decisions are major leverage points for fundamental systems-level change in our world. Seeing this core principle as a basis for family relationships feels so affirmative! One thing I’ve learned is that consent and collaboration are not just values — they are skill-sets. As a culture we really don’t know how, but around the edges (where most of the creative stuff happens in a system) folks are expanding beyond the debate-based, top-down paradigm, learning the skill-sets for living in Consent.

      (P.S. Hey Christine, yes, I’m still a minister and celebrant but realized I didn’t really want to be working every weekend during the most beautiful seasons here in the Blue Ridge. 🙂 When I discovered collaborative governance I was like “this is what we’ve been looking for!” I’m super grateful to have the UPLevel Your Business tools and wisdom to apply to this work as well. Cheers!)

  • Caren

    For some reason, I’m able to respond, rather than react to my kids. Since my oldest was born, I was aware of the preciousness of his life and spirit, and sought ways to encourage and protect his deepest self. This brought me originally to attachment parenting, then radical unschooling, and now, consensual living. I had consciously been on a spiritual path before he was born, but needing to ground myself to live in this world and effectively be a mom, I lost connection with myself!! And have been re-connecting over the past few years.

    I know I can choose my emotions, and my response to my emotions… unless I’m buried in them! Then I get lost for a while, things kind of go to hell, and I wake back up and start again. (Thank you, Christine, for that. I used to think of that as self-sabotage, and think I had to figure out WHY I do that? What’s WRONG with me? You gave me the perspective to just notice, “Oh. Did that again. Guess I’ll get back up and start again.” Thank you, thank you, thank you.) My meditation practice has deepened my ability to notice the emotion, without getting caught up in it.

    Sometimes, something happens that I don’t notice… I was keeping morning pages regularly for about a month, then just stopped. And didn’t even notice that I stopped. It didn’t cross my mind until I was looking for a notebook yesterday, and came across my morning pages one. Oh! Look at that! So I read my entries… and what struck me was that my last entry was about running into a previous lover the day before, someone who had completely broken my heart, left me shattered and gasping for air, moaning on the floor, where I remained for a LONG time, figuratively (and sometimes literally) speaking. Hmmmm… could it be there was something there I didn’t want to see? lol SO I’ve apparently been tangled in emotions without even knowing there were emotions going on. Ummm… OK, except for my increased intake of doughnuts, choosing to get on the computer rather than consciously start my day, increased TV watching… all the signs were there. Guess I wanted to wallow a while. So, this was a wake-up call. WAKE UP!! (Could this be where discipline would have come into play?)

    Thanks for the Erin Pavilina link! I’ve visited Steve’s site, and was VERY overwhelmed with the sheer volume of stuff and go! go! go! feeling to it all. I think I’ll enjoy Erin’s blog.

  • christine

    Susanne, Yes! That’s right. As much as I haven’t liked the word “discipline” in my life… it seems that a combination of discipline and “mindfulness” is what it takes. Thanks for the note!

    yogajenn, hi there! (your comment got put in the spam bin by the blog program. i have no idea why. i’m glad you wrote to Web Guy and let him know!) Thanks for all the compelling thoughts. I’ve had some very big awakenings during yoga classes…especially about comparison and projection. So much wisdom can be gained from that practice. And yes, I DO understand how this side of ourselves can really sabotage the business end of things. Have you studied the enneagram at all? That’s another recommendation! It has truly changed me. Keep in touch!

    Leah… yes, but that very moment was a big teacher for you about detachment. so it was simple… but it will help you when the next time comes up that doesn’t feel simple. it makes perfect sense to me what you wrote about! Thanks for the note. (and for reading twice! :-D)

    Thanks Joe! I appreciate the kind words… (and you’re welcome for writing it.)

    Hiya Susie. And yes, as a matter of fact, I AM stalking you. I was wondering when you’d notice me! (I’m the one in the Celine Dion sparkly dress and strappy sandals running around behind you.) I know how sensitive poets are…and how hard rejection is. (I’ve never been rejected so it’s really just from watching the poets, you know! :-)) That’s why. And I know there’s got to be many timid poets reading this blog!

  • Susie

    Wow, what an interesting post…it’s been on my mind all day. After some thought, I’ve realized that so often I use my “reaction emotions” as a way of avoidance; avoiding what I should really be doing or thinking. Asking myself “is this true?” is a great way to realize how I’m reacting rather than responding.

    Have you secretly been stalking my life when you gave the example of poems 😉 Recently, after debating a nervous ego, I decided to post a poem I wrote on my blog. Before even posting the poem I started to have feelings of self-doubt, I let myself get all wrapped up in my emotions even before it was added. Then I thought to myself, “Susie, you like this poem, who cares if no one else does, just post it and let it be.” Let it be.

  • Joe

    Wow. I dont think I’ve ever read so much and consistently said “thats right” so many times. Thanks for writing this. Its definitely worth printing out and re-reading.

  • leah

    what a fascinating post! i had to read through it twice and then let it sink in awhile and i think i’m still processing all the information. this working with emotions is difficult, but it’s work that is important. trying to figure out what the stories i tell myself are, whether or not they are true and then letting them go is so tricky. i get so attached to those darn stories. i know i’m learning though. when people in my life recently tried to convince me that i should be angry about something that had occurred, i thought maybe i was repressing some hidden emotions, but after some soul searching i realized i just didn’t want to be angry about it, so i chose not to be. simple as that. it’s not always as simple as that, but isn’t it wonderful when it is?

  • yogajenn

    I couldn’t agree with you more! It’s so perfect that I am reading your post on this topic right now…I’ve been really struggling with ‘feeling at the mercy of my emotions’ these days and haven’t found many tools to counter-act them. I read on Steve Pavlina yesterday an old post about ‘overcoming depression’ which says that it is our focus and attention on those things in our life that trigger depressive thoughts, not those things or situations themselves. So by changing our focus, we change that feeling. Of course, much easier said than done. But I know it can be done with conscious awareness and practice as you said.

    Even the cycle with cognitive-behavioral therapy says that by changing your actions you can change your emotions which help to then change your thoughts. Since emotions are a reaction to our thoughts, and many of these thoughts are faulty or ‘wrong’ (negative), by taking concrete action we can create new feelings and thoughts. It’s like thinking that people don’t like you…by forcing yourself to go out, you receive positive feedback from other people, you feel good, you re-consider your thoughts and beliefs that people don’t like you. Repeat…

    The true practice of Yoga is all about the ‘cessation of thought waves in the mind’ as well. Because the nature of your thoughts, and your emotions, is to constantly change, to come and go, you can’t always ‘trust’ them. And you certainly can’t identify yourself by them. It’s about finding that unchanging ‘knowing’ that is deep within and can only be heard by becoming still and quiet.

    Whew! This is a topic close to my heart! I have also been on a healing journey from anorexia/bulimia over the last 7 or so years. I so appreciate your writings, and feel like you are a true kindred spirit and soul sister!! I love the tid-bits on your pets too.

    Because I am trying very hard to maintain an intentional and positive frame of mind (LOA, The Secret), I think I need to check out NLP or some other techniques to get these out-of-control emotions reined in a little. If you have any other suggestions, I’d love to hear them. I tend to get discouraged with a business I am trying to get off the ground, and I know that works against me…

    Sorry for the lengthy note. Blessings…

  • Susanne

    Hi, I’ve been thinking all day about this. And I’ll sure think about it some more. I think you need a certain mind frame for being able to chose your emotion. For me the first step is to be aware of the emotion and the second – the one I’m currently working on – is to be able to chose not to act on it.

    And your post has taught me why I have been “popping back” into being all content so easily. I felt there was something wrong with me, when I had a fight with my husband or son, then leave the scene and feel completely different. I now realize that I chose to concentrate on being aware and mindful again.

    Hard to get a grip on it, but I’ll be thinking again.

  • christine

    Hi there Tony, Great stuff! The “future that doesn’t exist” is quite a big one, isn’t it? And I love the “tripping” phrase. Thanks so much for this….

  • Tony D. Clark

    I love this post Christine. As someone who works with a lot of folks looking to make big changes in their lives, I know the role both real emotions and “stories” play.

    IMHO – Self-defeating stories often stem from worry (or fear). Learning to see stories of a future that does not exist and a past that also does not exist as “made up” can help us to focus on what’s happening right now – the only time we can take action.

    I call it “tripping on the way to the life fantastic,” because no one ever achieved success without tripping along the way. But each moment is a do-over and learning how to follow our passions in spite of the possibility of failure, is a great way to go about life.

  • christine

    Hello Joy… and Good morning! You know, that quote by Sharon Salzberg makes so much sense to me now – and more and more everyday. I NEVER would’ve understood it about seven years ago! I was definitely one of those who thought she IS her emotions. (we enneagram 4’s are like that!) I’m not sure about the comments on this one… sometimes the more intense the topic, the less the comments! (Maybe everyone rushes away from their computers to ponder…or mope.) Thanks!

  • Joy

    Sharon Salzberg says, “We must learn to view the fact that we have negative feelings not as an irreversible personal defect or as some kind of portentous setback on our path to liberation, but simply as the result of conditioned habits of mind.”

    For me, anger is easier to relate to old thought patterns – judgement, self-righteousness, unfairness, etc. – than sadness or hurt. When I’m feeling sad or hurt it feels more visceral and from the “deeply sensitive side of me.” Of course, when I explore the source of my sadness or hurt I realize those feeling are also the result of thought patterns.

    I’ll bet you get lots of comments on this blog. It might be helpful for you to write, also, about how certain types of people identify themselves as their feelings – they think they are their feelings. Take away their feelings and they have no sense of self. My guess is they will be the most resistant to the ideas you offer here.

    You are wise beyond your years!