Feeling flat usually means you feel without energy, direction, or motivation. However, it is not a neutral experience. Feeling flat is often a painful and frustrating feeling that life is without what you need. In order to move forward from feeling flat it is important to be able to get in touch with emotions again, even when these feelings are painful.
In this exercise, you can get help to start reconnecting with your emotions. It’s not a magical exercise where you suddenly feel good. Instead, it is more like mental training. You may need to do this exercise regularly to get better in touch with your feelings. Below you can either select to hear the exercise read out, or you can read it yourself. If you want to read it yourself, it may be worthwhile to read it a few times first so that you understand the overall prupose of the exercise.
- Find a comfortable position, whether you stand upright or sit in a chair.
- Make sure to have a slightly upright posture. It is easier to concentrate on the exercise if you are not too relaxed. Perhaps it is better to use a dining chair rather than a soft and relaxing armchair.
- Set aside the time you want to spend on the exercise. Sometimes a few minutes is all one has available, but see if you can set aside at least 10 minutes.
- Clear space in your mind if you have a lot of thoughts that imposes on you: Address the thoughts that impose on you. One by one, put a label on your thoughts and imagine placing them on a shelf in front of you. Your thoughts can be put on a shelf and later retrieved to deal with. Once you’ve placed the imposing thoughts on the shelf, you can get started with the exercise.
- Turn your attention inwards to your body and ask: What bodily sensations am I aware of in my body right now? Use your attention as a thorch as you move around in your body. Listen to what is happening in your legs, in your arms, in your head, in your chest and in your abdomen. Leave your attention in your chest and in the abdomen. It’s all right if you don’t feel anything. Simply keep your attention there.
- Have an open and curious attitude. You’re not looking to find anything special, and you’re not trying to be good at it. Simply turn your attention to the inside of yourself. If you find yourself drifting away into a though and away from your body, gently turn your attention back to listening to the sensations in your chest and stomach.
- Once you sense that you can keep in touch with your body, ask yourself: What is standing between me and feeling well in my life? Try to let your body respond. That is, don’t search your thoughts to find the answer, but rather spend this time feeling the signals in your body. If you feel flat, remember that feeling flat is also a sensation in your body. Where do you feel the flatness?
- When you get a sense or bodily experience, see if you can keep your attention there. Describe more precisely where in your body you feel it. Is it in the middle of the abdomen, in the middle of the chest, in the whole chest? Get specific. Is it in the front or in the back, is it big or small? Try to describe the bodily experience, as if you are trying to describe your bodily signals to someone else. For example, is it like a small hard lump in the stomach, a large, foggy sensation in the chest, a tight belt over the abdomen? Get specific. If it feels like a lump, is it hard, soft, unclear? If it feels like energy, is it intense, subtle, shifting? Describe the sensations with a few words. Not what it means, simply the sensations.
- Once you have described the sensations, continue to feel the sensation and see if you can use your attention to sink into the sensation. Use your attention to feel the core of it. Complete the sentence: It feels like…. Perhaps it feels like a sadness, a concern, a loss, an injustice, or anything else. Sometimes it is more abstract, like a black hole in the abdomen, like a bullet of lightning in the chest, like a knife. Either way, let words come from the sensation.
- Does the words fit with your sensations? If they don’t you can either just be satisfied with having completed this exercise or if you feel like it you can start from the top. If your words match your sense, what does it feel like to find words to the sensation? Often, finding words to a bodily sensation can create a feeling shift. In that case, find the words that describe the change.
- Once you have found the words and notice that you manage to keep your attention on what you know, then ask yourself: what is it I need? Your answer might be about what you need right now, or it might be about what you need to do in the future. Either way, you’re trying to let your inside answer this. That is, you will not find a logical solution, but rather know your needs. Ask again: What do I need?
- If you don’t get anywhere with the exercise, and can’t find any words, just leave the question open: What am I sensing in my body, and what words can describe my sensations. Maybe the answer will come later, maybe you need to exercise some more. Either way just leave the question hanging. If you find answers to what you need, then become more aware of what it feels like to find the words. Let the feeling that comes affect you. Let it tell you about the importance of your needs.
No matter what the exercise led to for you, see if you can give yourself a pat on the shoulder for having done the exercise. If you’ve figured out something new, how do you want this to affect you in your life? Take a few seconds to turn your attention back to the room you’re in and get ready to continue your day.