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Dealing with uncomfortable emotions

Frustration, anger, disappointment, fear…..all of these emotions (and more) can have a negative effect on us.  You know that feeling when something happens to send you off balance and you move from feeling happy, contented and in control of your world one moment to feeling a stronger and less positive emotion bubbling up inside you the next?Off balance

How do you deal with that?  How do you help yourself in this uncomfortable, stressful and sometimes dangerous (to your mental and physical well-being) experience?

I’d like to share with you, something that I have found really helps.  It is simple, cheap and doesn’t take long to do!  So, it will work for you regardless of who you are, where you are or what your situation is.

The thing with feelings is that they come from inside and as a result can be difficult to shake.  The stronger they are, the greater the hold they can have over you and the greater their hold, the more damage they can do!  When you experience a strong feeling, it can take over and either paralyse you from moving on from it or it can result in you saying or doing something that you might later wish you hadn’t.

One option is to think about the feelings and try and make sense of them.

But I would attach a big fat health warning to that as a strategy!  That just makes things worse!

Why?  Because thinking about them only serves to give more energy to them. Try this out…..look at your left hand.  Really concentrate on it.  Now imagine that your palm is getting really hot.  It is almost glowing it is so hot.  Focus on your palm and feel that heat.  Do it for about 30 seconds.

What did you notice?  Did your palm feel hot?  That is the power that our mind had over our body.  If you focus on your uncomfortable feeling, it will just get worse.

So, trying to analyse and understand the emotion while you are feeling it will add fuel to the fire and intensify it as you tie yourself in knots trying to make sense of it or trying to push it away quickly so that you can re-gain your sense of balance.

What then, is my advice?  Well, if we accept that our emotions are part of what makes us human and see them as a useful indicator of how we are dealing (internally) with the external world….then, rather than trying to stop them, push them away or allow them to take over….we have another option.

We can acknowledge them, become curious as to what they might be telling us about our situation and then give them time to reduce in intensity and subsequently move on.

You see, EVERY emotion will weaken and eventually pass.  No matter how intense it feels at the time, it WILL pass.

Sitting with that emotion until it passes is the tough part!  And yes, it can be really difficult to do.  So, something I have found really helps is to write down what I am feeling.  It doesn’t have to make sense, it doesn’t have to suddenly reveal a better way to handle the situation, but it takes the heat out of it and accelerates its passing.

Something about putting your emotion into words is like turning the gas down underneath it rather than letting it bubble over.  It is like enabling your emotion to flow out of your body and onto the paper just as though you were throwing a branch off a bridge and watching it float down stream.

How do you get started?  Well, this is the beauty of it….all you need is a pen and paper and the next time an uncomfortable feeling de-rails you, take your pen in your hand and let rip onto the paper!  Don’t censor or try to make sense of what comes out, just write!  You are never going to show this to anyone, so go for it, no holds barred!

I suggest using the old fashioned pen and paper rather than a smart phone or tablet because it is a more sensory experience and will allow you to connect with your feelings more effectively.  Also, for many of us, we can write faster than we can type and speed is key here.

So, give it a go and enjoy it.  You never need to look back at what you have written but, at a later date, when you are back on track, reading your outpourings can actually be a great way to help you put your emotions in perspective for next time.  It allows you the opportunity, when you feel balanced and in control, to see the effect they had on you when they were at their peak.  You can then choose to respond differently to them in future and over time you will find those emotions appear less often and less intensely.

We all need to let our emotions be there but also to give them the time and space to dissipate and move on.

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