You could say that this duck is just stretching it’s wings. But maybe it is feeling threatened by my presence and this is a stress reaction.
Stress Is Not Always Obvious
Anger, sadness, fear, love. These emotions are usually pretty obvious to detect. But many times emotions can go undetected. You may be stressed but unaware of it.
Identifying when you feel stressed is the first step of doing The Work of Byron Katie. By identifying first the emotion and then the thoughts connected to that emotion and then questioning those thoughts, it is possible to move from feeling stressed to peace.
Here are a few signs that stress may be happening.
The Body Will Let You Know
Emotions are physical sensations in the body. If you pay attention to an emotion, you may notice different physical sensations such as heat, butterflies, tightness, etc. Every emotion has some physical manifestation. And it may show up differently in different people.
The ego has lots of ways of ignoring these sensations, or trying to make them go away. This tendency to pretend that “I’m fine” keeps the ego safe from having to look more closely at what is going on.
But if you’re really interested in knowing the truth, emotions are your friends. They are the alarm clocks that let you know that you’re buying into a story. They let you know it’s time to investigate.
Here Are Some More Clues in the Body
I learned some years ago that my anger doesn’t always show up as anger. I sometimes do not notice anger at all in my stomach, but feel hot on my skin instead, sometimes even red in the face. When I’ve looked closer, I’ve often found I was actually angry, or embarrassed, about something.
Similarly, if I start to sweat under my arm pits, or on my palms and soles, it’s a pretty reliable clue that I’m feeling stressed. Many a good worksheet has come out of listening to this clue.
Behavior Is Another Clue
Little obsessive movements like touching my thumbs together, or touching my teeth with my tongue let me know that I’m feeling stressed.
Addictions also provide the same clue. If I’m reaching for something sweet more than usual, it’s usually a sign that there is something else (stressful) going on for me.
Also, any time I notice a desire to “get out of here,” it’s a great sign that I’m feeling stressed about something. In fact, “fight, flight or freeze” reactions all let me know I’m experiencing stress.
How I treat people is yet another clue. I may not notice any sensation in my body, but if I’m treating someone badly, it can clue me in to what’s going on internally for me. So far, I’ve noticed that hurtful, controlling behavior by me towards others has been 100% stress driven.
All of These Are Clues
But my clues are not necessarily going to be your clues. My only suggestion is to start noticing the clues that show themselves to you.
Maybe you just feel flat. It might not seem like an emotion, but it is a clue that something is going on. When you look, you may find thoughts associated with it. And when you question those thoughts, you may find that even flatness starts to shift.
That’s all I ever do when doing The Work: I notice the reactions I am having (emotional or otherwise), I identify the thoughts associated with them, and I question those thoughts. More often than not, when I do, the emotion or stress reaction evaporates as I begin to see the missing truth.
Have a great weekend,
“I have never experienced a stressful feeling that wasn’t caused by attaching to an untrue thought. Behind every uncomfortable feeling, there’s a thought that isn’t true for us. “The wind shouldn’t be blowing.” “My husband should agree with me.” We think the thought that argues with reality, then we have a stressful feeling, and then we act on that feeling, creating more stress for ourselves. Rather than understand the original cause—a thought—we try to change our stressful feelings by looking outside ourselves. We try to change someone else, or we reach for sex, food, alcohol, drugs, or money in order to find temporary comfort and the illusion of control.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is