Emotions are hard work, peeps.
In last week’s post, I got pretty personal about how I got stuck in the cycle of resisting emotions and avoiding everything that had to do with my feelings, repressing my emotions rather than experiencing them. For four years I tried to block out every one of my feelings and pretend they didn't exist -- especially when it came to trust. I couldn’t allow myself to be happy or sad. I lived in fear, and whenever my mind focused on negative feelings, guess what results showed up in my life? Negative ones (go figure). It took me quite a long time to realized that I had let fear control me.…which is always a bullshit move.
Denying my emotions may have kept me numb, but it also created a lot of inner turmoil. The numbing kept me from connecting with who I truly was and what I truly wanted out of life. But, today I'm grateful that I can allow myself to feel again.
So, how do we learn to re-engage with our emotions?
It takes time and practice.
Specifically, the practice of consciously recognizing and becoming more aware of our emotions. I allowed myself to experience my feelings without judgement and created a much deeper relationship with myself and with the people that I care about.
Here are five suggestions to help you feel all the feels:
- Be fully present with your feelings, welcoming them to exist in your body. Breathe as you experience your feelings and be open to changes and movement as they flow through your body.
- When you become aware of a feeling, notice if a thought preceded it and caused your reaction. Also check if there is physical response, such as muscle tension or increased heart rate, that accompanies the experience.
- Let go of the drama, story, or justification you have attached to any feeling that arises in your body. Ask yourself if you could release your attachment to your 'story', and just experience the feeling for what it is.
- When feelings arise, give yourself time to process them. Find a quiet space and allow yourself to be with your experience, without judgement or interference, until they have completely moved through you.
- Recognize that life is all about feeling, and being open to all feelings that arise within you creates an opportunity to live in deeper connection with who you are. By creating the habit of feeling your feelings fully, you will strengthen your sense of self and enrich your experience of life.
Through re-connecting with my feelings, I’ve gained some perspective and a lot of knowledge about my thought patterns. Now, I choose to fight my fear. I try to follow my heart instead of getting trapped in my head. The mind can easily become a cluttered place... if you let it.
But, how do we keep our emotions from swallowing us up?
More time. more practice.
Like everyone else, I have shitty days and I allow negative thoughts to creep in. But the difference between 4 years ago and today is this: I know how to stop the cycle of numbing and checking out. I know how to recognize that I’m avoiding and isolating myself. I know how to seek out support and ask for help.
So, if you ever feel your mind becoming consumed with negative feelings, here are five tips to stop the overwhelm dead in its tracks:
- Name your feelings. If you have a hard time recognizing your negative emotions, write them down or name them aloud. I believe naming a thing is a powerful process. It allows us to assign meaning and significance to things, including our emotions, and keeps these things in perspective.
- Be patient with yourself. You're human after all and it's natural to have negative emotions. But, it's important to be patient with yourself and believe that you can deal with these feelings in a positive way. If you believe you can do it, then you can.
- Remember to breathe. This is a simple, yet, transformational technique. Any time negative feelings begin to creep in, just take a few minutes to yourself, find a quiet area, close your eyes and take 5 deep breaths.
- Yoga and meditation can help you go even farther with managing your emotions. Never practiced before? Then look into getting some meditation recordings or attending a local yoga class.
- Most importantly, recognize that everything is going to be okay. Everyone feels the bad stuff sometimes. Darkness always gives way to light — processing your shadow emotions allows for quicker resolution than letting them stagnate inside.
Remember that you are not your thoughts or emotions. You are YOU and you are AMAZING.