I hate Jell-O.
Always have. Always will.
I can eat live conk straight from the ocean, but Jell-O?
The thought sends a shiver down the full length of my spine.
I don't care if there's fruit
in it. Or whipped cream on top. To me, Jell-O is NOT a dessert. It's a passive-aggressive form of punishment.
So you can imagine how humbling it is to admit that one of my greatest lessons came from a talking blob of green Jell-O.
Let me explain.
One of the first things I teach my clients is how to listen to their emotions. Which isn’t an easy task when you consider that most of us are taught to shove our feelings down into the cellar—hog-tied and gagged—before we’ve even started pre-school.
Remember that time you got a nice, shiny bike for throwing a temper tantrum?
We learn that certain emotions are “good” (“Smile for Aunt Edna!”) and certain ones are “bad” (“Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry for!”) and so we start navigating through life by cutting ourselves off from the way we feel, allowing our head to have complete control of the plane.
Which is a lot like flying with a pilot who won’t listen to Air Traffic Control.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The intellect is a wonderful thing, but did you know the conscious mind can only process between 16 to 50 bits of information per second? Compare that to the body’s sensory system that processes 11 million bits of information in the same amount of time.
Now factor in that the heart has an elaborate network of neurons and neurotransmitters (which means a powerful intelligence of it’s own) and that your gut has an enteric brain (a mass of neural tissue that sends messages through our bodies and up to the brain in our heads).
Ding! Ding! Ding!
There’s gold in there, people! All we have to do is tune in and listen.
Which is exactly what I did after a misunderstanding with a friend. There I was, trying to distract myself from my feelings (hello cookies!) when I remembered—Oh yeah! I’m supposed to be listening to this stuff!
So I sat down and did what we coaches call “Mind-Body Work”.
Which means I tuned out that bossy voice in my head and started listening to my my emotions and the physical sensations they caused.
And here's what I noticed:
I felt a weak, sloppy, loose feeling in my lower gut—as if my backbone had dissolved and slid down into my belly.
My stomach was filled with a gelatinous mass of insecurity and worry.
So I asked this feeling for its name.
“Green Jell-O” popped into my mind.
I asked it to describe itself.
It said, “I’m wobbly, shaky and quivering.”
I asked how it was here to help me.
It said, (and this is a direct quote) “I’m here to show Kelli that she doesn’t always have to be strong. It’s okay to get some support from others. She’s not here to do this alone.”
She’s not here to do this alone.
Relief flooded my body.
Tears came to my eyes.
Because the truth is, I try to do everything alone. I beat myself up for not being strong enough or smart enough or capable enough to carry the weight of the world. I forget again and again that the Universe is filled with helping hands, all ready and lined up to assist me if I would only let go.
And every time I forget, my emotions remind me, signaling in some way that I’m getting off course.
Green Jell-O was saying, “Step away from the cookies! Get support from your friend!”
And when I did, we worked through the misunderstanding together—sharing the burden of responsibility and then letting it go.
What a relief!
So the next time you’re out of sorts, take a moment and get curious.
Instead of burying your emotions underneath a bag of M&Ms, try something different.
Say hello to those uncomfortable sensations in your body.
Let them hang out.
Ask them what they need from you. Or how they’re here to help.
You’ll be surprised at the answers.
And if Green Jell-O shows up . . .
Please tell it that I said thank-you.
Sending you so much love,