You might want to consider yourself as a rational being, but, in reality, your life is inspired by emotions. Emotions upset you, drive you, intimidate you, and inspire you. They motivate decisions, move you to action, or paralyze you in anxiety, anxiety, and fear. They are the cornerstone of your finest memories and the bond that produces deep connections with others. In this article, we’ll explore four principles for working with your emotions and three suggestions to handle intense feelings like anger, anxiety, and sadness when they threaten to overwhelm you.
You can feel anxious one minute, angry the next, and then have waves of despair flood through you seemingly out of nowhere. Since they can take you on these wild rides, it’s natural to be somewhat wary of strong emotions – and do everything you can to prevent them or keep them at bay.
You have seen what can happen when so-called”negative” emotions like anger, anxiety, and sadness overwhelm you or others. You have memories of unskillful expressions of these feelings you wish you could forget. Images of psychological trauma are stored deep in your subconscious, warning you to be cautious once you feel these emotions or witness them in other people.
In the face of vulnerable feelings, a more logical approach may feel safer. It’s easier to focus on your ideas and not venture into the scary world of feelings. Yet, reason has its limitations. You may think you’re more rational than you are. Even though you can logically weigh choices or consider unique thoughts, the closing”Yes this” and”Not that” arises from what”feels right.” Even when you’re focused on thinking rather than feeling, in the end, your decisions and actions are based on your own”gut feelings.”
Because emotions are so closely connected to decisions and actions, in addition to being connected to threatening memories and your strongest inspirations and interpersonal connections, it’s important to understand how to manage them skillfully. Let us explore four principles for relating to emotions in a mindful, intentional, and empowered way. Practicing these principles grows your Emotional Intelligence, which is a skillset for handling emotions well.
Four Principles to Deal with Emotions Skillfully
Though your first inclination when you are feeling overwhelmed by uncomfortable feelings, such as fear, anger, and sadness, may be to distract yourself, downplay the feeling, or run away, this just causes emotions to go underground, into your subconscious, where they are saved as tension in your body, eat away at your peace of mind, and finally surface as sickness. Repressed emotions are the cornerstone of compulsions and bad habits, in addition to the source of overwhelm and flareups in relationships. You want to address them.
Emotions arise to give you specific information on what is going on inside you, around you, and with others-and this info will stick with you until it is acknowledged and heeded. So, it’s important to change your perspective from fear of emotions to viewing them as useful guides. Emotions arise with information you need about your life and the ability to take action on this information. So, the number one principle of skillfully handling emotions is to stop ignoring them and pay attention to what they have to show you.
You can begin by paying attention to how you feel, in your body, right now. What are the sensations going on inside your skin? Especially, notice any areas of present discomfort, since these hold important clues to what you need to know and do today.
If you are not accustomed to checking in like this, you may not feel much at all or you may feel strong aversion to feeling discomfort. Stay with it. Remain present with whatever feeling or lack of sense is there. Attention to feelings requires practice. It’s a real art you can learn. Bear in mind, if you don’t listen to what your emotions are trying to tell you, they get stuck on repeat and keep cycling through you.
2. Mindfulness of everything you feel shifts your relationship to it.
Mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment. When extreme feelings arise, rather than immediately trying to do something about them, take care to witness, listen to, and feel them. This action of mindfulness brings new neural connections into your habitual emotional patterns which enables them to shift. You bring a layer of awareness to your emotions that changes how they impact you.
Mindfulness releases you from being”gripped by” your emotions in a way that”takes you over.” You gain freedom and space within and about the feelings you”have,” by recognizing that feelings don’t define”who you are.” They’re simply information about what is going on inside you, around you, and others.
Knowing that emotions are transient is reassuring when emotions run strongly or cycle repetitively. When you shine the light of consciousness in your emotions, you can see what they have to show you, take appropriate action, and enable them to release.
Once you’ve tuned into the sensation of an emotion in your body, inquire what message it has for you. What is this feeling telling you about how you are relating to a situation, to yourself, and with others?
Given this information, what actions would be useful for yourself and others?
Because we are not generally taught to recognize the significance in emotions, we often miss, ignore, or prevent their messages. When we do so, emotional energy builds into overblown high drama to get our attention. It’s like our emotions say,”O.K. you didn’t get the message in my civil indoor voice, so I’m going to shout it at you.” You then feel intense anger, overwhelming sadness, or anxiety that is through the roof.
When emotion has amped up to there, it can be useful to bring it down a notch to a manageable level. A few simple actions can help you do so.
Stop what you are doing, close your eyes, and concentrate on slow, deep, gentle breathing, in and out through your nose. Closing your eyes and engaging in this sort of breathing activates your body’s natural relaxation response, which helps dissipate the pressure, energy, and intensity of powerful emotions.
2. Feel the sensation of the emotion in your body.
Notice where the emotion is located in your body. Feel the quality of sensation there. Noticing feelings as sensations helps you witness them objectively, so you gain space from what you are feeling.
3. Adopt the mindful perspective of a curious audience and question the emotion as if it’s a friend who wants to tell you something important.
Remember that Mindfulness means paying attention, on purpose, at the present moment, without judgment. With this attitude, ask your emotion questions, as if it’s a friend who’s attempting to provide you valuable information and you’re a scientist seeking discovery.
When you follow these tips, you change your perspective and choose the”over-the-top” extreme edge from what you are feeling. Extreme anger may downshift to a firm”no,” intense sadness can mellow into”letting go,” and high anxiety can settle into a motivating spur to action.
Once a feeling has downshifted in intensity, it is easier to listen to it, feel it, and react appropriately. You can take action to deal with the current situation.
The bottom line is that, rather than fearing the psychological intensity of fear, anger, and sadness, see if you can move toward those feelings with a mindful, curious attitude. As you do this, notice how they shift and guide you to what you will need to do right now.