In this podcast episode, we discuss emotional waves and how to handle them effectively. Emotional waves are when emotions like anxiety or stress rise within the body in response to new opportunities or challenges. Maybe you have those waves in moments like, opening your mission call, going to college, returning home from your mission, leaving your family for 2 years, or watching your child struggle. Our lower “caveman” brain sees these emotions as pain and tries to avoid them.
Common unhelpful reactions to emotional waves include thinking something is wrong with us for feeling that way, stopping the wave before it peaks by changing circumstances, and making hasty decisions before the wave fully passes through us.
Let’s learn how to let the full wave happen and pass through us. By giving the emotion a name, describing its physical sensations, and “riding the wave” until it dissipates, it won’t feel as big. This teaches your brain that emotions are normal and not dangerous. It also leads to better decision-making once centered again.
Think of a toddler throwing a fit to avoid a task – if we give in, we teach the little brain that strategy works. When we start seeing emotions as passengers rather than drivers and trusting the wave will subside on its own, we take the power back. Feeling our emotions fully and allowing waves to pass through us naturally builds confidence and competence over our inner experiences.
Get the Full Show Notes HERE
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0:00 Hey, what’s up everyone? It’s Jennie Dildine. I’m the LDS mission coach and you’re listening to the LDS mission Podcast, episode number 113, the emotional wave. I’m Jennie, the LDS mission coach. And whether you’re preparing to serve a mission, currently serving a returned missionary or a missionary mama like me, I created this podcast just for you. Are you searching for epic confidence? Ready to love yourself and to learn the how of doing hard things? Then let’s go. I will help you step powerfully into your potential and never question your purpose. Again. It’s time to embrace yourself. Embrace your mission, embrace your life, and embrace what’s next. Hey, everybody, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for being here. Can we all just be super excited right now. I mean, I’m excited because guess what, you’re here, first of all, which is super fun. So I’m so grateful that you’re spending part of your week with me. And I’m also excited because we have so many missionaries, and RMS who are out there working to transform their lives, working, doing all of the inner work, to become the people that they’re meant to be. Which is awesome. And not easy, by the way, but also amazing. And I’m excited about that. I’m excited about bringing more awareness that the mission is for other people, but it’s also for you do become a new, transformed version of yourself. If you let the process do that. And that is why I’m here because that process is grueling at time. It’s heart wrenching, it’s hard to feel those feelings and to grow and change. It’s reminds me of I won’t say it President Hinckley, you guys will know better than me that talks about the current Bush. And I think it was and how it got like chopped down to like its bare bones. But then that process is what allowed it to grow. And that’s how it feels. Sometimes you guys it feels like, not awesome. And so that’s why it’s so important to have mental and emotional tools for the mission for after the mission. Even if you’re a missionary mom, right, I’ve talked to a couple, I talked to a mom this week, who’s you know, worried about her son. And I’m like, Girl, I get it. It is rough, it is hard to feel all of those emotions, but I’m here for it. And really, it’s one of the things that makes life full. One of the things I like to think about is in the scriptures, when it talks about the fullness of joy. Joy is not happiness only because without any sadness, balancing out the happiness, there would be no happiness at all. So Joy, I feel is the embracing of all of it, which is really an expansive way that I like to think about it because it sort of gives purpose to all the stuff that doesn’t feel as good. So I’m excited. I’m excited that we’re here, we’re learning these tools. And we’re all becoming like, different versions of ourselves, and not better versions, mind you, because we’re always worthy and valuable and whole, completely worthy and valuable and whole is the day we were born. But it’s just kind of more fun to see what we’re made out to, to expand and to grow and to become the people that were meant to be. So it’s super fun and exciting. So I’m glad you’re here. This week, on the podcast, I wanted to talk to you about something I’ve been thinking about. And it’s sort of like a personal thing that I’ve sort of been going through. And so I wanted to share it here because I think one of the things I’ve noticed on the mission is that there’s a certain way that the mission is run. And that way works amazing for a lot of people and for a lot of people it doesn’t work as well. So the more that you can know that your way, whether that’s you’re a little more sensitive or a little more emotional or like me, I’m super emotional. I think it’s good to have tools to figure out how to maneuver yourself within the context of the mission or within the context of what happens after the mission, whether you’re at college or whatever, because as soon as you really have those tools as soon as you turn
5:00 rest yourself, right? There’s nothing that can stop you. And that’s one of the reasons that I am so passionate about kind of this new project that’s coming up in the fall to help missionaries preparing missionaries. Really, we’re going to expand my whole mental mission prep program, and make it a whole lot bigger, a lot more access to some RM mentors and things like that, which I’m super excited about. Because if you get out those tools ahead of time, if you know how to manage yourself, trust yourself. And then of course, trust God, and trust the plan and trust in Jesus Christ’s Atonement, and all of that good stuff as well. When those two things are combined. And when you know that our heavenly parents trust you, man, you’re you become unstoppable. Really, you learn how to keep going and how to keep creating and how to keep achieving what you want to achieve, because you know how to feel along the way you know how to manage yourself along the way, is super, super fun. So I guess I kind of got off track a little bit, but one of the things that I’ve noticed about myself lately is this thing called an emotional wave. And I’ve alluded to it here and there on the podcast. And it usually happens to me when there’s something big or a new opportunity that comes up. And the way I would describe it sort of in terms that we’ve talked about here on the podcast is when something big is presented, remember that lower brain, your caveman brain, that toddler brain is going to freak out a little bit I have podcast called your amazing brain or when your brain freaks out if you want to learn more about this. Or brain software, I think is one of the earliest first podcasts I did about this concept. Well, one of the main points of your brain is to avoid pain. And your brain can’t tell the difference between physical pain and emotional pain. And so to your brain, if you’re about to experience some anxiety, some discomfort, some stress, some overwhelm some doubt, your brain is going to start to freak out a little bit, it’s gonna, if it’s like mine, and if it’s like most brains, it’s gonna start to freak out a little bit, send you all kinds of thoughts, maybe thoughts that we would call quote, unquote negative that create all kinds of quote unquote, negative feelings that just start to course, throughout your body. Now, I did talk about this concept of the emotional wave on one of the other podcast episodes. But I talked about it in a little bit more what we call, quote unquote positive way, like how you can use the emotion to create momentum. But here, if what do we do if that emotional wave doesn’t feel awesome? Okay, what do we do if it’s an A wave of anxiety, which I’ve experienced a lot of lately, personally, I’ve been feeling a lot of anxious feelings. What do we do if it’s a wave of stress? What do we do if it’s a wave of overwhelm? And here is some of the things that we tend to do, but maybe aren’t as useful. And then we’re going to talk about kind of what we can do to combat that. Okay. So the first thing that we tend to do if we’re having an emotional wave, and what I mean by this is, what we’ll notice is like, Oh, here’s anxiety sort of rising in my body. Remember, your emotions are just a vibration in your body. And so we start to notice those emotions, I’m like, oh, here it comes, I’m feeling super anxious. And then what happens is that emotion will rise if you picture almost like a graph, and then that rises really high. But then eventually, it’ll start to taper taper off. Because that emotion, those chemicals, those vibrations in your body, so long as you are allowing, those emotions will come to a peak, and then they’ll start to cycle out of your body. Okay, and at the end, maybe we’ll talk more about like the difference between resisting and allowing a motion and allowing that wave. But just for now, know that that is what happens so long as we allow a motion, it will rise and create kind of that bell curve, and then it will kind of start to taper off. Okay. So here are some of the things that we do with these emotional waves. When we start to notice it is we start to notice that anxiety rises up in our body, and then we make it mean that something’s wrong. I see this all the time. And if I could just how I have, oh my gosh, if I could have $1 for every time that I’ve had someone say, to me, I think something’s wrong with me, or I think something’s wrong with my daughter, right? Or I think something’s wrong with my missionary or I think something’s wrong. There is nothing wrong, you are a human, you have a motion, you’re supposed to have a motion, our heavenly parents knew that you were going to come to this earth, and that you are going to have 1000s of thoughts a day that would maybe create 1000s of emotions.
10:36 And they created our bodies so that we could feel okay. So sometimes, we make it mean, something’s wrong with us. Oh, I shouldn’t be feeling anxious. I shouldn’t be feeling overwhelmed. I shouldn’t be feeling afraid. I shouldn’t be feeling doubt. Okay. So that’s one of the things that we do with an emotional wave. The second thing that we sometimes do with an emotional wave, is we stop the emotional wave before it takes over. Okay. So the example that I was thinking about with this is I was working with a client one time who, you know, was trying to figure out some anxiety, you know, work through some of that he was working at Sonic, and he was telling me how every time it was his turn to go out to surf, just hit the drinks, or whatever he would notice, like that anxiety start to rise within his body. Okay? And then what he would do is, he’d be like, Hey, dude, can you just take this out for me. And so here rises up the anxiety, here comes that emotional wave. And before it even peaks, because it feels too uncomfy, we just cut it off, we just stop it, we just change the circumstance, change the situation, so we don’t have to feel it anymore. Okay, and we’re going to talk in a minute about why that might not be useful. The third thing that we tend to do with an emotional wave is we start making decisions, or taking action in our lives, before we’ve written the whole wave before that emotion has moved all the way through us. Okay. And so what this can tend to feel like is another client, the one who is getting married soon, we were talking and she’s like, it just feels like I’m constantly putting out fires, like, I got to do this. And I got to do this. And I got to do this. And she was feeling all this stress, and then the stress piles on top of the stress. And then we’re stressed about the stress and then the anxious about the stress and the and so we’d never feel our emotions through the entire wave. Okay, so you can see how that could be problematic as well. So what do we do about this? For these three things I want to talk to through them and just a little bit more, so we can understand what might be more useful, is instead of telling yourself, I’m feeling anxious, something is wrong, I must not be feeling the spirit, I must not be a good missionary, I must not be blank, blank, blank or whatever. Stop saying that. Instead of just be like, Oh, I guess this is what we’ve got today. Nothing wrong. I’m a human feeling anxiety. We’re supposed to have emotions, especially on the mission. I always think about this. It’s like this analogy that I like to use of your caveman brain, your lower brain, your toddler brain, that lower brain likes to avoid pain, emotional or physical and conserve energy. So picture that the toddler that or even the teenager, right, that just wants to stay in bed and not do anything not being disrupted, or a sleepy bear that’s hibernating doesn’t want to be bugged. And that mission is the ultimate push out of the cave. We are opening ourselves up to all kinds of emotion. We are opening ourselves up to all kinds of experience and all kinds of thoughts that we’re going to have. And so it just makes sense, right? That we’re going to have all of these thoughts that create all of these emotions, and we’re going to have lots of emotional waves. So instead of telling yourself, I shouldn’t feel this way, or I don’t want to feel this way. Just be like, Oh, I guess this is what we’ve got today. That’s what I’ve been doing. When I have been feeling these emotional waves. It’s emotional waves of insecurity, emotional waves of anxiety, emotional waves of worry, actually, because one of my sons is going off to college soon. And because he’s on the autism spectrum, I don’t know that he’s ready. I don’t know if he’s going to be successful or not. So then I have these emotional waves of worry. And instead of thinking I can’t think that way I shouldn’t feel this way. This is, like I talked about on the podcast last week, this is silly. Just know that nothing’s wrong with you. I think on the mission especially, there’s sort of this belief that if we’re feeling emotion, that something’s wrong, that, like, we must be doing something wrong. I think there’s also this belief that if we’re Christ like enough that we wouldn’t feel certain emotions, but you guys, pretty sure Christ was half human, and experienced all of the emotions that we experienced, that’s how he knows how we feel.
15:44 And that is probably why we’re here is to feel all of the feelings, it’s to feel those emotional waves. Okay? So instead of stopping the emotional way, before it takes over, here’s one of the problems with this is picture if you have a toddler, and you’re walking through the grocery store, checkout, I don’t remember if I’ve shared this analogy on the podcast or not, but it’s a really good one. So I’m going to share it again. Picture that that toddler wants a sucker. And you’re like, guess what, you don’t get a sucker. Right, so inside of the toddler, or inside of your toddler brain, that emotion starts to all those thoughts start to come, and then the emotion starts to build. And so that toddler starts to get angry, starts to get upset starts to get, you know, really uncomfortable. And our tendency, just like with my friend, my client in the Sonic situation, is we tend to be like, Oh, it’s too uncomfy. And then we just give the toddler a sucker. But what are we taught the toddler, once they throw that big fit, and then we give them a sucker, it’s like, oh, I guess this is how we get what we want. So then our brain gets into a pattern of anxiety, a pattern of stress, a pattern of feeling those emotions, because then it believes like, this is what’s going to stop that emotion, this is what’s going to stop that pain, that pain, that emotional pain, and then we can go back to conserving energy. So I, if at all possible, don’t recommend that we just change the circumstance so that we interrupt that, that emotional wave, I recommend that we feel all the way through read through it and get really good at feeling it, we start to teach our brain emotions aren’t a problem at all, we just, we, they’re just things that we feel, and then we get a move on, and they go on to that wave that peak and then they dissipate after that, okay? So remember, your emotion, your brain doesn’t like emotion, it sees it the same as pain. And so instead of just interrupting that, just be with yourself, just feel it all the way through. Otherwise, we create this pattern where we’ve taught the brain Oh, if we just, you know, hand our assignment off to someone else, or we’re supposed to speak and we just decide not to speak. It’s why with my kids, even, I have a daughter getting ready to go to girls camp for the first time. And she, it’s going to be she struggles with anxiety. And it’s going to be tough, I already know that we’re going to hear a lot of emotions over you know, over the next little bit and I am recording this a little bit ahead of time, so but she’s going to feel those emotional waves and probably has her mom, I’m never going to say nevermind, you don’t have to go. Because then what we’ve taught the brain is is you throw a big enough emotional wave, we throw a big enough fit. And then we get to go back to avoiding pain and conserving energy. Does that make sense? Okay, so the third one, about making decisions before that emotional wave has moved through you is just, instead of it feeling like you’re constantly putting out fires, what you can do is you can ride that whole wave, make whether you need to, like sleep on it, or tell someone I’m gonna get back to you or if someone asks you to speak at his own conference, instead of being like, Yeah, I’ll do it while you’re in the middle of like an emotional wave of anxiety or stress or something like that. It’s totally okay. And I give you permission for you to let that emotional wave ride. Okay, and to make the decision after that peak has come, and then that peak levels back out
20:00 Okay, sometimes you just gonna have to tell people, I’m not sure, I’ll get back to you, instead of getting into people pleasing, like they have to know right this second. Okay? So I just wanted to share this with you because it’s something I’ve observed in myself. Now that I’m more aware of this emotional wave of anxiety or worry, or overwhelm or stress or insecurity, that’s a big one for me lately is if I just feel it and write it out, I make so much better decisions. I like myself more because I’m not always thinking something’s wrong. And I’m showing my brain who’s in charge that I’m still going to take action, even though it’s throwing a fit, and I’m feeling all of these emotions. So let’s just do before we wrap up, let’s just do a quick recap of the difference between resisting an emotion and feeling and emotion. So if you think about a beach ball, and this is one of the analogies I share with my clients is, when you notice an emotion coming along, maybe it’s a wave that kind of comes and brings a beach ball in front of you. And on the beach ball in front of it is written in big black letters, anxiety, what our tendency to do is right is to just push that anxiety under the water, I don’t want to feel anxiety, I can’t feel anxiety, I shouldn’t feel anxiety, something’s wrong with me if I feel anxiety, or we just like, kick that beach ball away and and stop the emotional way before it even begins or before it reaches its peak. Right? Instead of doing that, we just learned how to let anxiety be with us. Okay, and we learn to allow emotion like I said, Our Heavenly Parents created our body to allow emotion. And there are some very specific steps and probably no one has taught you this before unless you’ve listened to your on the podcast, but the steps are, give the emotion a name. So you can just simply say, Oh, I notice that I have some anxiety rising up in my body. Okay, we give the emotion a name we get out of our heads where all of that spinning is happening and our toddler brains Serena fit and into our body. And then we describe that emotion with adjectives. And what I mean by adjectives is toddler adjectives, like ones our brain will understand. So is it heavy? Is it light? Is it cold? Is it hot? Does it have a color? What color is anxiety for you? Is it moving? Is it moving fast? Let me tell you some of the ways that I’ve heard different emotions described I’ve heard discouragement, describe like a black cloud that kind of moves down your back. I’ve heard desire describe like a hot pink bouncing ball that moves throughout your body. I’ve heard happiness described as a yellow kind of a substance or silly putty around the heart that then turns into beams and moves out through word through the body. I’ve heard fear described as, like something that starts at your heart and then like wishes threw down towards your stomach, like a clear black liquid. Okay. And so this is what we do. I always share the analogy of the Magic School Bus videos like if you’ve ever seen those. We don’t describe physiologically what happens because I think this is one tool that some people would use for processing emotion is like, my hands get sweaty. My heart beats fast, which I think can help. But I think what’s even more powerful is be that magic school bus, we’re going inside Jenny’s body worth seeing what does anxiety actually look like? What is it actually doing inside the body. And what you’ll find is when you allow that emotion, when you describe that emotion, you will be able to process it and you’ll be able to ride that emotional wave. Okay, then when you’ve allowed that wave, when you read in that emotional wave, you actually will create so much confidence for yourself. You will be like, Hey, I’ve got it, I’ve got anxiety, I’ve got worry, I’ve got overwhelm. And I know how to do that. Which is an awesome type of confidence to have because it’s not based on what’s going on outside of you or the way that you perform. It’s based on you being able to feel your own feelings. You’ll also like show your brain like I’ve got this one. When you allow a motion picture instead of anxiety being in the driver’s seat of your car. It gets to get in the backseat and it’s gonna throw a fit back there and it’s fine but it’s like
25:00 Okay, I’ve got this, I can keep going, I’m gonna still get where I want to go, I’m still gonna take the action I want to take as a missionary, but I’m in charge, not anxiety. And then also, you’ll just be able to make such better decisions, you won’t feel like you’re racing around trying to put out fires, I, and again, give yourself permission to give some things some time, be like, oh, I’ll just have to get back to you on that. And then one of the things I’ve found is that anxiety Will Rise, Rise, Rise, Rise, Rise, Rise, Rise. And then the next day, I’m like, Listen, I’ve got this, I think I can do this and all of that insecurity. As long as I’ve allowed, it will kind of cycle out and I’ll come become more centered, more centered in myself, have more belief in myself. And then I’m ready to go out and do the thing. Okay, so I hope that this helps you if you tend to experience these emotional waves, as many of us do, because I know we all have human brains with emotions. Give some of these things a try. Nothing is wrong. Ride that whole wave, let the emotion move through you. And instead of constantly putting out fires and making decisions from that place, just get settled first, let that weigh peak, go all the way down, and then make your decisions and take action from there. All right, my friends, everyone have the most amazing week and we’ll talk to you next time. Serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints can present a unique set of challenges. And many of those challenges you might not even see coming. So you’re gonna want a unique set of solutions. It’s easier than you think to overcome worry and anxiety, serve the successful mission you’ve always dreamed up and navigate your post mission experience with confidence. That is why I created some amazing free goodies that I’m sharing in my show notes. Maybe you’ll want to grab the free training for preparing missionaries, my video course for RMS or maybe you and I should hop on a free strategy call. If you’re ready to take your preparedness to serve or your preparedness to come home to the next level. Then go grab one of those freebies. And in the meantime, no matter which part of the mission experience you are involved in just now that Jenny the LDS mission coach is thinking about you every single day.