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Guests at the Door: Creating Feelings Characters

Imagine your feelings as visitors, guests who have arrived with some sort of message. Your feelings are there to tell you something. You may be delighted to see some feelings visitors. When happy, proud, grateful, peaceful and loved make their rounds you will probably leave the door wide open and tell them to stay forever. You will probably be much less excited about a visit from fear, shame, disappointment, and anger. You may want to lock the door and ignore them, hide out in your bedroom until they go away. But here is the problem. If you ignore your feelings guests, they don’t generally go away. They continue to pound and make noise, because your feelings, even the uncomfortable ones, are there for a reason, and they will move along only after you pause, listen, and take care of them.

Take a moment and tune into your feelings. Listen to your body clues. Notice the thoughts and images running through your mind. Notice what feelings are visiting you right now. Imagine that you can greet your guest within your own mind. You might say, “hello Sadness, what can I do for you?” or “Hi, Peace, I can see that you like these mindful moments.” Remember that although we may be less than thrilled to see some feelings guests, they all have good intentions and they are there to help us. Some feelings guests will arrive together. Anger and disappointment often come as a pair, as do frustration and confusion. Grateful and happy also tend to enjoy traveling together. Once you notice who is present at your door right, now, see if you can create a character for your feeling. Maybe you envision anger, frustration, or worry feelings as monsters, dragons, wild animals, or storm clouds. You might think of excited as a jumping puppy, or disappointed as a melting snowman. Decide how you like to imagine each different feeling, and see if you can draw a picture of your guests.

Once you’ve drawn a picture of your feeling, think about what your feeling is trying to tell you and consider what it needs. Why have they decided to pay you a visit today, right now? You might even draw a speech bubble next to your picture or make a quick cartoon. If it’s a pleasant feeling, maybe it’s there to tell you that you’re making some healthy choices. Did you notice an uncomfortable feeling? See if you can help take care of that visitor. Perhaps that feeling needs a bit of attention or some help. Maybe that feeling just needs a quiet spot to sit and rest. Sometimes the worried, stressed feelings appear when you need to slow things down and take a break. Guilt may arrive to encourage you to say sorry and make things right. Once the feeling is recognized and has been nurtured, maybe it will be ready to bid you a fond farewell. Although you can be assured that there will be a steady stream of guests, none will stay forever.

Painting a feelings character (with a little help from a friend).

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