Am I doing it right?

Posted by on Feb 18, 2020 • 3 minute read

Feedback is useful and necessary for improvement, at 5th Place, we take the critical and positive feedback very seriously.

Feedback is useful and necessary for improvement, if not always comfortable to hear. It can also reveal a great deal about society at large and people in general. We get feedback forms completed after our workshops and talks and take the critical and positive feedback very seriously. It has informed how we adapt our work, teach the process and language our approach. We are grateful for it all.

There are two pieces of feedback we consistently receive when we do Shape of Emotion work, be it in one on one sessions, Emotional Fitness Classes or coming out of our workshops:

  1. I don’t always know if I am doing it (the Shape of Emotion process) right
  2. When I did Shape of Emotion this morning / this time / in the class nothing came up

Let’s start with the first piece of feedback: Am I doing it right? Getting things right seems to be a driving need for so many of our participants, maybe most of our participants. Okay, probably all of them. This, despite us always, and we mean always, saying that you can’t really get it wrong. That even if all you do is use the touch points and consciously breathe, relief will be felt. This clearly is not good enough. And we can understand why.

People want to have an experience of the full process. In the beginning there will be some wondering about what the hell is happening and is this what is supposed to occur? For some it may be the first time they have become aware of a feeling in their body, it may be the first time they realise that this feeling shows up in a particular part of their body. Then they are asked to observe what that feeling looks like. Yes, you did read that correctly. What it looks like.

This is where the anxiety kicks in.

Shape of Emotion turns 2 in 2020

Our use of Shape of Emotion over the past year - 2019 -yielded some interesting insights. Here's a list of everything we learnt:

1. When People Hear About Our Work
2. Am I doing it right?
3. Rich or poor... It's all just the same
4. A Cure for the Coronavirus madness
5. Separating from Fear
6. Everybody wants change. Nobody Wants to change.

 

Society, our education system and culture has infected us with the drive to get it right. Not only get it right but get it right the first time! The ticks and crosses, A+’s and D-’s are all too familiar messages that build or break our self-belief in our intellectual ability even if they say nothing about what we actually learn. The rewards for getting it right are so embedded in the system that the very idea of failure can send us spinning into an abyss of despair.

Back to looking at the feeling. Firstly we are asking our participants to observe not visualise. Observing keeps the mind out of the way, visualising engages the brain. We don’t want to engage the brain, the brain judges and questions (sometimes inanely) and scares. No, we want calm observation of what is showing up. Like watching a mist rise and observing the road, tree, hill, whatever, that appears. Without judgement too (thanks brain).

You don’t judge a tree for the way its branches bend and twist or for the way petals on a flower are spaced and aligned. There’s no “waiter, please ask the chef to put some extra space between my eggs and toast - it’s not arranged right”. Instead there’s an acceptance. An acceptance and observation of what is happening in front of me. Now. In this moment.

The process of observation is a guided one using key characteristics such as colour, shape, size and so on. The form can show up as organic, geometric, 2 dimensional or 3 dimensional. It is all good. Meanwhile, the participant frantically wonders: Is this apparition I see before me (in my shoulder, throat, back) what I am supposed to be seeing?

As with any new skill it is natural to have some questions the first few times. With practice there should be a relaxing and acceptance of what shows up and yet there is a prevailing worry, an anxiety, at somehow not getting it right.

The sad result of this conditioning and these incessant messages from the external environment is that we have lost the ability to trust ourselves. To let go and play a little. To accept that today my anxiety looks like a blob of smeared paint, tomorrow it may look like a cantering black horse or a wavy cloud of pink candy floss. It really doesn’t matter. The key is not to analyse it but just to accept that you will get it right, every time. Now there’s a challenge.

Next time we will consider why, when I did Shape of Emotion this morning / this time / in the class nothing came up.

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