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This is a time when many people focus on the New Year and start setting goals and targets for success, however for some, this time of year is an emotional roller-coaster of highs and lows. Modern day living is often experienced as challenging, demanding and engulfing, leaving little time for personal reflection.

Andrew Boyton – a coach, psychotherapist and change consultant and a new member of our team has prepared the following simple yet powerful blog and exercise, as an invitation to us all to become present with ourselves paying attention to our thoughts, feelings and emotions so we can explore what we need to ‘let go of’ in order to move forward with our future goals.

I would like to take the opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year and we look forward to working with you all in 2014.  It’s going to be a great year!


“The end of the year is approaching and it is time to say goodbye to 2013 and hello to 2014.  The process of saying hello and goodbye can be more than just words, it is a process of change.  I believe that a wholesome and healthy goodbye and hello is to fully engage with our feelings and thoughts in the present.

The following exercise will provide you with an opportunity to have a clear-out of  latent emotions and thoughts that are sitting beneath the surface like icebergs or perhaps those unconscious feelings and thoughts that pop up in dreams or times of pressure.

Before you start the emotional literacy exercise, I’d like to invite you to engage with your own personal dreams, hopes, needs and wants. As you read this, some of you may already be saying to yourself that you cannot possibly have or need ‘that!’. Perhaps you would like to take some more time to reflect on the reality of these thoughts?

Using this emotional literacy exercise allows us a chance to fully engage with our emotions. Emotions are part of who we are and following the work of Daniel Goleman and others, many businesses are helping managers and leaders become more aware of their emotions and providing training in how to manage them appropriately.    In this exercise all emotions and thoughts are to be considered as OK (acceptable). Holding on to old emotions consumes time, energy and at worst, can be damaging in personal and professional relationships, or they may simply inhibit our true potential.

Expressing thoughts and emotions in a safe and OK way, offers a chance to clear our minds and bodies. Consider this exercise as an emotional detox of saying good bye to old feelings and freeing up energy to work on refreshed goals and engage with friends, colleagues, new projects and relationships experiencing a new set of emotions.

The exercise is as follows:

Take five sheets of blank paper and begin each sheet with one of the following sentences:

Sheet 1 – ‘I am Angry that / about…’
Sheet 2 – ‘I am Sad that / about…’
Sheet 3 – ‘I am Sorry that / about…’
Sheet 4 – ‘I am Scared that / about…’
Sheet 5 – ‘I am Glad that / about…’

Repeat and complete the sentence in as many ways as possible on each piece of paper. Pause for a minute or two before moving to the next piece of paper and emotion. The exercise should take a minimum of 15 minutes and a maximum of 1 hour. Before starting this exercise please note the following suggested guidance.

Some Exercise Rules:

  1. The sentence order must not be changed and the exercise should be completed fully.
  2. For maximum effect, this exercise should be repeated every 3-4 days for four to six weeks.   This exercise can be repeated at any time of the year.
  3. Use this exercise to learn and develop your own personal emotional vocabulary. Think of scales and spectrums by substituting words, for example use frustrated, fed-up, bored or ‘pxssxd off’ instead of angry. Find a way to engage with this exercise through fully engaging the words and the paper you use; use small sized writing to express fear, or press hard on the paper to express anger. If your tears appear, then let them fall onto the paper and blot the ink. They become a record of pain, sadness or relief.
  4. No editing is required.  There is no need to correct spellings or grammar.
  5. Simply let the words flow by expressing what ever comes to mind.
  6. Remember to keep any written records in a safe, confidential place.
  7. Processing emotions can sometimes leave you feeling emotionally and physically drained. Whether this exercise does or does not, I would recommend that you allow some time for self-soothing either by going for a gentle walk or maybe taking a bath.
  8. Finally, this can be a powerful exercise that could uncover some surprising or dormant thoughts and emotions. If this happens, take time to reflect on their significance to you and your future. Feeling safe and secure is always important, if necessary take some time out or seek additional support from a trusted friend or colleague.

Further Steps

I hope that you will be able to find time to repeat the exercise as suggested in the guidance. It is worthwhile mentioning that repeating the exercise will help shift blocking emotions that may prevent you from fulfilling goals, dreams, needs, wants and desires.

Writing down the emotions and thoughts is sometime not enough to shift a sticky emotion that will not go away. In this situation, I recommend reading the list of thoughts and emotions out loud. By doing this additional step, you start a process that engages your whole body to process in the detox process – and the only way to fully process an emotion is to fully experience the emotion.

If you wish or see value, you can also share the content of this exercise with your coach in the next session. You may also wish to ask Space2BE to run an Emotional Literacy workshop for your team. Please remember that we will be covering anger and frustration as our experience tells us these emotions are the potential biggest blockers and therefore contain the largest opportunity for positive shift.

Happy New Year!”

Andrew Boyton

Coach, Consultant and Trainer in Personal and Organisational Change