Those Pesky Emotions

Woman holding masks

At various times in our lives we encounter challenges.  No-one is exempt!   When something happens that we do not want we usually have a strong emotional response.  It could be anxiety, anger, sadness or guilt.

It can be difficult to make good choices about how to respond when our emotional level is high.  As emotions go up our thinking capacity often goes down!

Yet we have learnt to try to override our uncomfortable emotions.  By the time we were 4 or 5 years old we had learnt that we should suppress or hide our feelings, even if that feels bad.  We have been told “Don’t be sad or don’t be so angry.” “There’s nothing to be scared of” Or, when upset “You’re alright.”

We learn to avoid feeling uncomfortable emotions and either pretend we are not feeling them or argue with the reality of what is causing them: “This shouldn’t be happening and its terrible that it is!”

This is a normal human response to being confronted with challenges. However, the more we stuff them down or talk about “how bad it is” and all the associated problems the worse we feel.  Suppressing unwanted emotions is exhausting.

What emotions really want is to be acknowledged and felt so they can move through and leave.  It really is that simple!  Emotion means energy in motion.  Emotions are the truth of how you feel.   They will not be talked away.  They do not understand language.

Think how much better you feel after a good cry or a good rant (as long as it is not at someone else’s expense!)  Often expressing emotions is less uncomfortable than resisting them (and can be over much faster!).

So how to feel them?

Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.  Start to feel into the emotions, simply letting them arise, taking some slow gentle breaths to support you.  Notice any sensations in your body that accompany them.  Allow yourself to feel the emotions without shame or blame.  They are simply your honest response to a challenging experience.

Be kind and gentle with the part of you that has these feelings, the way you would with a frightened child.  Releasing unwanted emotions creates the space for relaxing, healing and  better feeling emotions!

You might be surprised by how quickly you feel better if you pause and simply allow yourself to feel deeply and with compassion into what is true for you.  Pat yourself on the back for good self-care afterwards.

It can be so much more effective to set aside a little time to be with these emotions so they can release, than to carry them around with you all day.

Releasing anxiety and other unwanted emotions can leave you feeling calmer, more confident and better able to think clearly.  It’s easier to focus on the here and now and think more positively.

Having “cleared the decks” of the emotional charge, we can view the challenge as an opportunity for us to grow and become more of who we really are.  Then it is easier to see how to make good choices as to how to respond in wise and empowering ways.

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