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A Fist Full of Emotion

Once, in a fleeting moment, a friend saw me struggling to release a person who had caused me great harm. I had removed that person from my life, but I was clinging to their energy; allowing the harm to continue. Grieving for me, she watched me for a pensive moment; thinking, and observing.

She took a breath and said, “You don’t have to let it go; but, you do have to open your hand.”

The action-based direction was enough to scaffold “release” into a cause and effect relationship, where I didn’t have to carry the responsibility for all the emotional labor of “letting go”, I just had to do the physical labor of opening my hand. The emotional result would be the same; I could finally let it go and release the grip those dark feelings had on my spirit.

This tiny shift allowed me the emotional distance to take action towards my own healing. I suddenly had momentum and movement around something I had been spinning my wheels on, stuck, for years. Her powerful words stayed with me, and continue to help me get unstuck when I’m holding on to negative experiences.

As I’ve grown into cultivating my own joy and taking radical ownership of my life and experiences, I find myself seeking not just to release negative energy, but to recognize, cultivate, and expand positive energy and experiences. I’ve tweaked the original concept to apply toward strong emotions, regardless of where they lay on the emotional spectrum.

This exercise is useful in noticing what emotion is “barking the loudest”

Pardon the image, as of this writing (April 29, 2019) I’ve had new puppies for five days!

Thunder (right) and Axel Nico Lightning


A Moment's Notice

  1. Take three deep breaths. No rush. Take your time. Focus on the feeling that rises to the surface the loudest or strongest.

  2. Name that emotion: cautious excitement, curiosity, rage, bewilderment, frustration, acceptance, sorrow, etc.

  3. Imagine holding the emotion in the palms of your hands. Gently close your fists (wrists facing up).

  4. Take a moment to consider if this is a feeling you want to hold onto, or release.

    1. If you want to hold onto it; massage it into your body: hands, chest, arms, belly, legs, etc. Gently “rub it in” so that it absorbs into your soft tissue and settles within. Pay attention to your breath, giving each inhale and exhale time and space.

    2. If, instead, you want to release the feeling, slowly open your fists. Rotate your hands (wrists down) and imagine the feeling pouring out of your hands like grains of sand. Clap and “dust off” your hands to shake off any lingering grains of emotion. Take three deep, cleansing breaths.

  5. Repeat as you notice strong positive and negative feelings in your journey.

A Moment to Notice

Reflect on your experience(s) with this method.

As you use the tool, notice which action you do more - collect or release?



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