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Aug 24, 2016

Toolkit for Transformation: Emotions are Signals

Add to or Create Your Own “Toolkit for Transformation”

We all feel stuck at different times in our lives and when we’re in a place of “stuckness” it’s even harder to remember how to access the inner resources we have to help manage events or situations.

And, as we grow and develop, it’s important to add new “tools” to our internal toolkit.

I’ve worked as a counselor since 1986, yet in early 2009, I was feeling distraught and stuck – until I read Joe Vitale’s book, Attractor Factor, and was inspired to begin jotting notes about the various tools and techniques I’ve used in my counseling sessions with clients. Only this time, I was the one needing some help! In the middle of feeling distressed, the ideas flowed.

From that experience, I created a compilation of internal tools, information and strategies – of some of the best physical, mental, emotional and spiritual approaches to personal transformation. The “toolkit” is designed to provide the basic strategies you can use to get unstuck from the difficult situations that life brings. There are essentially five intrapersonal toolkit themes:

  • cognitive,
  • emotional,
  • physical or kinesthetic (using the body),
  • energy-oriented and
  • spiritual.

Cognitive themes use strategies that are essentially related to focusing on your thoughts as a way of shifting out of what might be making you stuck.

Emotional tools are helpful for identifying the feelings that could be contributing to how you’re reacting to the events in your life.

The body has its own wisdom and way of providing information, too, so focusing on the messages your body brings can offer insight and solutions to situations in your life that are disruptive.

Energy-oriented strategies include a philosophy that the source of distress in our lives is related to how disrupted our energy systems are. These energy systems consist of the chakras, the meridians and the biofield. More and more information and research is available on the approaches that harness these systems.

Lastly, the themes include tools that are common to a variety of spiritual or religious traditions, calling in a force or energy outside ourselves for help in times of need.

This blog will present a simple-to-use tool for you to use. Each post will highlight a tool or strategy from a variety of psychological, spiritual, energy-based, complementary, and integrative approaches.

Try them!

They could help you change your negative energy into positive or shift your self-defeating thoughts into ones that support you better. The strategies have been tested by many of my clients – as well as myself – helping them to manage and transform difficult the feelings, concerns, and situations that you may also be facing. 

This week’s tool is…


(Inspired by Ask and It Is Given by Esther Hicks & Jerry Hicks)

Emotions are neither good nor bad, positive nor negative. Emotions are vibrational signals in our bodies and our brains that something is going on within our experience and ourselves. Once we are able to recognize the role of emotions, we can make better choices about how to handle them.

The following is a 5-step process for managing the emotions that signal us to change our perspective or notice what is happening in our lives.

Step 1: Acknowledge it.

Something shifted or happened to create your current emotional state. Allow yourself to feel it and then to name it. Trying to name the feeling requires that we move from an emotional state to a cognitive state, so if you can’t name the emotion/feeling, just sit with it. A label will arise when that is helpful to you.

Step 2: Honor it by feeling it!

Once you’re aware of what your feelings are, you simply become in tune with your vibrational state. And, once you know the vibration of the emotion you’re feeling, you can learn to use it to connect deeper with yourself. The first step, however, is to acknowledge the feeling. It has a purpose, message or meaning, so honor it by feeling it. You may not know what that meaning or purpose is right now, but you will eventually. Remember that you have the inner resources to handle the experience and the feeling(s) that arise out of it!

Step 3: Seek to Understand it.

The thoughts and vibrations that accompany feelings are a powerful signal for you. Once you’ve honestly gotten in touch with the feeling itself, ask yourself, “What is the lesson here?” Every emotional state carries with it a lesson or gift, even if that lesson is, “Gee, I really don’t want to feel like this!” How can you translate this knowledge into thoughts or action? If you don’t understand it right now, can you think of a time you’ve felt like this before? What did you learn from that previous situation and how is it applicable here?

If you cannot understand it right now, that is perfectly all right!  Trust that the awareness will come when you are ready for it. Much can be gained by simply sitting and experiencing the vibration of the feeling, allowing the thoughts that inform you of their meaning to emerge. Identify where this emotion sits in your physical self, concentrate your awareness in that area. What is the message the emotion is signaling? What’s the potential gift of the experience you’re having?

Step 4: Integrate and Transform it.

It’s only when you’ve fully understood the feeling and begun to realize the gift of the experience that you can consider integrating it into your evolving authentic self. The difficult feelings have a need to be a part of who you are, just as the more enjoyable ones do.

After you have identified the signal of the emotion, concentrate on it. Focus your awareness on the message or on its physical manifestation and visualize the emotion leaving with each exhale. As you inhale, imagine light or deep calm going to the site of the emotion, joining with it, and then leaving your body as you exhale. At this point you can also use vibration-raising or thought-shifting techniques, such as journaling, cognitive-behavioral techniques, Emotional Freedom Techniques (see, Guided Mental Imagery (try resources at, HeartMath (find the techniques on or other tools to change your perspective or shift your energetic state.

Expressing some form of gratitude toward these challenging emotions tells your unconscious self that you are listening to your body and mind. Your heart will respond by increasing your connection with your highest level of being.

(Optional) Step 5: Consider Releasing it.

Maybe it’s time to turn toward forgiving yourself or at the very least truly releasing yourself and others who contributed to your current emotional state. This part of the process doesn’t mean you need to completely forget! If you’re unable to or choose not to release or forgive, trust that you will continue to be open to these acts and that they will happen when you are ready. We learn from all of our experiences – the “positive” and the “negative” – and it’s in the learning that we move forward in our lives.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Remember that it may take several tries – practice – before you feel a huge shift, but keep at it! You might find changing just one thing in how you approach a challenge in your life brings at least some relief.

Suzan K. Thompson, Ph.D. is a licensed professional counselor with over 30 years experience. She helps adults learn practical tools and strategies to manage anxiety, depression and trauma. For more tools please visit:



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