The Love/Hate Exercise

Here’s an effective emotional intelligence exercise we ran at the “How to Live from your Heart”workshop. Be forewarned, you may feel silly, because it requires… playing:

  • Find a neutral object: something you don’t generally give much though to. We’ve used everything from a crack in the concrete floor to a glitter-covered foam skull.
  • Do a quick body scan; take mental inventory of how your body feels in this moment. Notice tightness, relaxation, pains, tingling, stiffness, flutteriness, tickles, temperature, sweat level, etc. Take a “snapshot” for later reference.
  • Spend one minute “hating” the neutral object. eg “Stupid glitter, all showing off. Look at it just sitting there sparkling like it’s cool.” Over the top “hate” is great.
  • At the end of the minute, stop “hating” and do another quick body scan. What’s different?
  • Take a clearing deep breath or two and repeat the exercise, this time adoring that sweetest object, that most amazing and precious thing, the thing you are so lucky to be near!
  • Body scan, compare, breathe.

It’s very likely that just by pretending to hate and love a thing, you have started to increase your awareness of, access to, and toleration of your emotional state. Feel free to swap out “love/hate” for words like “adore/despise” or “desire/repel”. This exercise is one way to metabolize the idea that emotional states are transitory.

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