I wasn’t up for writing a whole brand new piece this week. I opted to grab one from the archive of articles written for Care2, who I used to write for regularly when they had their blog open. Please excuse any tone or vibe differences. It was written a few years ago.
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Sometimes emotions can be overwhelming. Your chest may tighten. You could lose your breath. Your face might flush red with heat. Maybe your palms get sweaty. Feelings can be extremely uncomfortable. You might also feel embarrassed if you’re with other people or someone significant as often were programmed to believe feelings are bad and are unwanted guests at an otherwise good time.
What’s bad is suppressing your emotions to the point of disconnecting yourself from your heart. When you lose touch with how you feel you lose touch with what makes life so beautiful and that which makes you human.
Humans are meant to feel. We are sensuous creatures. It can be easy to feel good but feeling bad is part of it, too. The depth at which you allow yourself to feel the “bad stuff” corresponds to the heights at which you’re able to feel the “good stuff.”
There’s a healthy way to be in a relationship with the more difficult emotions rather than giving them the cold shoulder. What if you saw them as messengers carrying the answers to a more fulfilling life?
How to Handle Your Feelings and Emotions
If you want to develop a healthy relationship with your feelings and emotions, then implement these steps on a regular basis. Make it your new practice. The keyword being practice. Something you do over and over again to get better over time. No need to be perfect. Just do your best.
1) Become Aware
First things first, what’s going on? Creating awareness around a tense or triggering situation can make a world of difference in and of itself. When you have the guts to step back and simply say, “There’s something here.” You create the opportunity for transformation. It’s only in this place of awareness that you’re able to make a new choice: suppress, express, or process.
2) Get Into Your Feeling and Emotion
Now that you’re aware, you’ve got to really get in there and feel the emotion. Drop into your body. Feel your head, chest, belly, arms, and legs. Where does the feeling reside? Is it a tightness in your chest? A ball of fury in your belly? Is heat rising from your head?
What do you feel? Be specific. Use feeling words not thinking words. Like, “I feel anger which feels like heat rising from my head.” Or, “I feel sadness which feels like tension squeezing my lungs and chest.”
Dropping into your feelings sets you up to explore and listen for the message. Now is the time to break out your journal, whether that’s with paper and pen or on the computer. From this feeling, write. Write what you discovered in step two: the specific feeling.
Then write about all the thoughts associated with the feeling. Dive into the feeling to explore the story that your mind and body weave about the feeling. Write and write as though it’s an onion and you are peeling off the layers. Each new thought or expression that rises from the feeling is another layer. Dive deep into the feeling and express whatever needs to be expressed.
Don’t hold back. Are you angry at someone in particular? Do you blame someone? Be petty. Be negative. Don’t spiritualize anything or dampen yourself. Let yourself be on fire. It’s in the heart of this flame where true transformation occurs. In the center of your deep expression, you’ll discover the truth – the message.
4) Identify Your Desire, Want, or Need
It may take a while to dive into the core of your feelings. Give yourself the time and space to do so. Keep going until you feel the emotion begin to dissolve and your heart open. As that space is created, ask yourself, “What do I desire, want, or need?”
Your heart may encourage you to take certain actions like speak with the person at the center of your rage, be witnessed in your grief, or nothing at all. Maybe the self-expression was enough. Whatever it is, this is your point of power. You’ve heard your heart completely and given yourself space to create from a new place.
Handling your emotions and feelings in a healthy way is a privilege and journey that not everyone undertakes. Sometimes it’s easy. And sometimes it’s horrendously difficult. But those who are willing to let their hearts feel, emote, and break open are those who are willing to be and express their humanity fully. Your emotions and feelings have great value to offer should you be willing to accept them.