Design the life you want by regulating the emotions you have. I have learned that my strong emotions are not me, they are a part of me but not necessarily who I am. I know what it feels like riding waves of anxiety. I have developed strategies for myself over time to deal with the paradox of my emotions and to get to feeling better. I don’t stuff my emotions anymore and I don’t listen to people who try to tell me to just get over it. I respond to my emotions and my needs as they arise. Pushing your emotions to the side over time and suppressing emotions lead to destructive behaviour. Emotions need to be resovled and processed as they come up. Stress needs to be dealt with. We want our bad feelings to go away so that we can get on with our lives, we don’t want to think about our feelings and distract ourselves. When we distract ourselves from our emotions we end up engaging in destructive lifestyle behaviours, like drinking, gambling, media addictions, just to name a few, to deal with the suppressed emotions.
Avoidance strategies lead to more problems over time. These strategies perpetuate worse behaviour. Resisting and suppressing your anxiety is not the answer. It is exhausting being stuck fighting your feelings. You can overcome these. Here are some strategies I use:
- Don’t judge your emotions as good or bad. If you think bad emotions are uncomfortable and need to be escaped, stop that! You need to understand that just because your emotions feel bad, they are not necessarily bad for you, they are indicators that can lead you to make lifestyle or relationship changes if need be. Don’t judge your emotions let them guide you.
- Don’t stuff your feelings. Don’t distract or avoid feeling your feelings. Muscle tension, anxiety or nausea, are examples of stuffing your feelings. Don’t fight the body sensations that are coming. Start to be gentle with yourself. Be open to emotions. Feel the feelings.
- Don’t negotiate. Bad things happen. Don’t try to plead before the universe that life is unfair. Unfairness is part of life, accept what is in your life. Bad things and good things are parts of being human. Accept what comes.
- Don’t shame yourself. Don’t force yourself to be happy when you aren’t. Don’t be ashamed about your bad feelings. Don’t judge yourself or your feelings.
- Don’t catastrophize. If you feel down or feel bad don’t make it worse by spiralling into a freak out story. Stop the internal chatter and the worry. Don’t give your internal worry monologue any depth or weight.
- Stop checking on your bad feelings. Don’t hyperfocus on negative or bad feelings. Your brain will make that feeling louder. Focus on positive feelings. Don’t validate your negative feelings. Feel them and let them go.
- Don’t distract yourself from your feelings. Don’t run away from the imaginary monster that you think is chasing you. Don’t be afraid of the feeling. You will not get stuck in that feeling. The feeling will pass and you will feel better once the feeling has been processed.
These are some of the strategies that I use to process strong emotions. I hope this helps as you navigate your life. Good luck to you and your healing journey. It is a long one but a wonderful one.