Riding the Emotional Elevator

There are only two kinds of emotions – the ones that make you feel good and the ones that make you feel bad. You flow between these emotions many times a day. Most of the time you aren’t aware of the shift from good to bad until you are well into the negative effects. You might have a headache or sore shoulders that seemed to come out of nowhere. Perhaps, all of a sudden, your stomach starts to churn.  Before you know it, you are yelling.

I’d like to help you be more aware of the shifts, so that you can consciously stay in a place that feels better.

Imagine that there is an elevator that takes you from emotion to emotion. Ride it to the basement and you come out at fear/grief/depression/despair/powerlessness. A trip to the penthouse brings you to joy/empowerment/ freedom/love/appreciation. Most people live in the middle floors, riding up and down from optimism to disappointment, from worry to contentment, from doubt to belief.  You might find yourself on the overwhelmed and frustrated floor yet with some attention and deliberate action, you can hit the UP button to the floor of eagerness and happiness.

The idea is to get to a floor/emotion that feels just a little bit better than where you are. Don’t head for or expect to get to the penthouse instantly. That’s setting yourself up for failure. First, be aware of and name your emotion. For practice, many times a day, ask yourself, “How/what am I feeling right now? What words would I use to describe my mood?” Does your emotion feel good or bad? If you answered bad, you can get into the elevator and ride up a few floors.

First though, you’ve got to stop any downward movement.  Whichever emotional floor you are on, stop and take a deep breath. Look around and find something — anything — to focus your attention on. Perhaps you can pick a color and find everything in the room of that color. This is a distraction technique, and it stops the elevator.


Here are some ideas to start the slow ride up, floor by floor:

Do you have a pet? Go pat it.

Smile. Even if you don’t have the desire to smile, the action of pulling back the corners of your mouth raises your mood.

Hum – anything.

Take some deep breaths.

Start your next thought with “Wouldn’t it be nice if_____.”

Pull out a memory that makes you feel good.

Take a few minutes to sit quietly and meditate.


Check which emotional floor you’re on. Remember, your goal is to feel just a little bit better. Rage might feel better than fear, anger better than rage, frustration better than anger, pessimism better than frustration, hope better than pessimism.  You get the idea. Every time you come out of the elevator, you’re on a higher floor and your body, mind and spirit will feel a bit lighter.


Notice this feeling and remember how you got there. You did it. You took control of your emotions and deliberately and consciously manifested an upward shift. You can do it again and again until you start to live on the higher floors most of the time. It’s your finger on the UP button. Press it wisely.