When Feelings Are Too Much
Learning to manage emotional upsets is a valuable skill on the journey through life. As human beings we rely on our emotions for expression of desires, response to conditions, and feedback about our experiences. E-motions are energy-in-motion, and emotional energy usually follows a pattern of growing and then dissipating as we shift mental focus from ideas, people, activities and circumstances. Depending on how closely we assign the significance of an experience or relationship to an essential or core belief we hold related to survival or self-identity, our emotions can escalate, gain momentum and we might find ourselves caught in an uncomfortable, emotional loop.
Take a Break
When you find yourself overwhelmed with anger, sorrow, loneliness or fear and are unable to deal with the intense feelings in the moment, remember that you have a choice. You do not have to be in those feelings right now. In fact, if you are overwhelmed it is a sure sign that you need a break from the thoughts and feelings fueling the uncontrollable emotional state. Take a break and you will be better able to deal with the feelings later. Doing this does not mean that you are denying the emotions are there. It is important that you come back to the feelings when you are rested. Even if they have changed, acknowledging your feelings is key to allowing yourself to accept yourself fully. Oftentimes we want to push feelings away and if we do, we resist the information they provide about hindering beliefs we hold, about ourselves or others. After taking a break you may have a different perspective which can help you understand what is happening underneath the emotional upset, and prevent further painful emotional loops.
Here are some ways to let yourself take a break from your feelings:
1. Journal about how you are feeling. Writing out your feelings is a form of release and allows you to focus the emotional energy into words. As you write let yourself feel the emotions pouring out of you onto the page (or computer screen). Ask yourself, what else do I feel about this (relationship, situation, experience, etc.) and empty yourself of every thought and emotion that comes up. When you are finished thank yourself for acknowledging what you are feeling and imagine putting the pages safely into a box in the shape of a heart. You can lock it if you wish or set it aside for later.
2. Go within and create a safe space in your imagination, a comfortable chamber you mentally step into where you breathe and relax. As you step into your chamber leave your feelings outside the doorway. Create an image that represents of how you are feeling them in the moment and allow the image to encompass and protect the feelings outside your chamber door. Your feelings are still there and you can decide to pick them up again after you are done relaxing in your chamber, or let them dissolve within the image holding them.
3. Movement can help. Chose to think about something else for the time being. Go for a walk, go to the gym, change the scenery. Moving your body moves the energy and as you breathe and oxygenate your brain the chemistry changes in as little as 15 minutes.
4. Focus on taking care of you. Your mood can shift when you try something different. If you have been doing the same old thing every day, stuck in your feelings then try changing your patterns. Rather than going home after work or staying inside on the weekend and feeling lonely, take yourself for a drive in the countryside, go to movie, visit a museum. I worked with one young man who was going through a divorce and decided to take himself on a date. He had the best day he had had in a month.
Your feelings are not always easy to feel but you can become adept at feeling and appreciating them for the insight they offer into yourself when you allow and work with them. There really are no “bad” feelings for on the other side of every feeling is the opportunity and reward of moving into a better feeling state. Taking a break from emotional struggle is a valuable tool to help you manage the process of getting there.
Are you looking for guidance in managing your feelings? Coaching sessions are available via Phone, In-Person in Colorado or Skype.
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