Monday, July 10, 2000

Letting Go of Emotional Turbulence
by W. Bradford Swift

Let me ask you, are you more or less effective when you are upset? Do you find yourself stuck at times in your life by anger, frustration, fear, guilt, and similar emotions? If so, here is a step-by-step approach adapted in part from the book, Do Less, Achieve More by Chin-Ning Chu.

  1. Don't Suppress: Letting go of your emotions doesn't mean to avoid feeling them or suppressing them. Suppressing your emotions can be harmful to your health, resulting in a myriad of physical ailments including heart disease, strokes and ulcers. Instead of suppressing your emotions, become unattached to them. How?
  2. Cause Your Upset: One of the most effective ways I've found to become unattached to an upset is to actually 'cause' it. Having something happen that results in your automatically being upset is different from recognizing the upset and causing it in a responsible manner. You may find it's actually quite difficult to stay upset when you're causing it rather than simply being at the effect of it, and it can help you move through it and reach detachment sooner.
  3. Write It out of Your System: For many people writing about their emotional upsets can be a great way to dissipate the energy. The best way to write about your emotions is to not think about writing but simply write. Pour it all out on the paper. Let the words flow directly from your heart to your fingers without detouring through your brain first.
  4. What Really Happened?: Once you've unattached yourself from the angst of your emotions, you are better able to deal with what really happened. As Detective Friday used to say in Dragnet, "Just the facts." What happened is almost always different from what you reacted to. What caused the reaction was what you made up about what happened. Someone say, "We're cutting your bonus 50%," is different from "My jerk of a boss is stingy and uncaring and let me tell you what he did recently that proves it." Few people in life deal with what's really happening -- only the most effective ones.
  5. Get That We Live in a No-Accident Universe: Since we're designed to make meaning out of everything, why not make up some new meaning about what happened that will empower life? Notice I said empowers life, not 'empowers you.' Of course, you're part of life so you're included but look beyond yourself. What meaning could you attribute to the situation that will empower everyone involved? One great place to look is what's the hidden lesson the Universe is trying to teach you. If you've just gone through a huge upset, chances are that you've been offered the lesson many other times. Isn't it time to learn it so you can move on?
  6. Celebrate: That's right, whenever you move through an upset, no matter how large or small, celebrate the expansion and growth you've made. As Chin-Ning Chu says, "Rejoice and celebrate each time your heart is broken. Only when your heart is broken can the light enter."


This week, try out this simple and effective six-step approach on one of your upsets and see if you don't become much more effective at dealing with your life. The more you practice it, the faster you'll be able to authentically move through the emotional turbulence of life and stay on track to living purposefully.

(Thanks to my friend and client, Eric Miller, for inspiring this Thought Provoker.)

W. Bradford Swift is director of Life On Purpose Institute -- an organization dedicated to people clarifying their life purpose and living true to it -- where he is a coach, writer and trainer for other coaches. Hundreds of his articles have appeared in such diverse publications as Modern Maturity, Hope, New Age Journal, Yoga Journal, and many others. He may be contacted by email:; by phone: 1-800-668-0183; or visit the Life On Purpose Institute website: For a FREE subscription to Purposeful Pondering Ezine, send an email to

C 1998 Brad Swift. or call 828.697-9239 for more free information. This material may be transmitted freely with this contact and attribution information.

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