You may like to consider yourself as a rational being, however, 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 guide, we will explore four principles for skillfully working with your emotions and three tips to handle intense feelings like anger, anxiety, and sadness when they threaten to overwhelm you.
Emotions are volatile. It is possible to feel anxious one minute, angry the next, and then have waves of despair flood through you apparently out of nowhere. Since they can take you on these wild rides, it is natural to be somewhat wary of strong emotions – and do everything you can to avoid them or keep them at bay.
You have seen what can happen when so-called”negative” emotions such as fear, anger, 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 wary when you feel these emotions yourself or witness them in other folks. Just thinking about these emotions makes you feel vulnerable.
In the face of vulnerable feelings, a more rational approach may feel safer. It’s easier to concentrate on your thoughts and not venture into the scary world of feelings. However, reason has its limitations. You may think you are more rational than you are. While you can logically weigh choices or consider unique thoughts, the closing”Yes this” and”Not that” arises from what”feels right.” Even if you’re focused on thinking instead of feeling, in the long run, your decisions and actions are based on your own”gut feelings.”
Because emotions are so powerfully connected to decisions and actions, in addition to being connected to threatening memories along with your strongest inspirations and social connections, it’s important to learn how to handle them skillfully. Let us explore four principles for relating to feelings 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 Handle Emotions Skillfully
1. The only way out of an emotion is through it.
Though your first inclination when you feel 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 stored as tension in your body, eat away at your peace of mind, and finally surface as sickness. Repressed emotions are the basis of compulsions and bad habits, as well as the source of overwhelm and flareups in relationships. You want to address them.
Emotions arise to offer you specific details on what is going on inside you, around you, and with others-and this information will stick with you till it’s acknowledged and heeded. Thus, it’s important to change your perspective from fear of emotions to seeing them as helpful guides. Emotions arise with information you need about your life and the ability to do it with this information. Thus, the number one principle of skillfully handling emotions is to stop ignoring them and pay attention to what they have to show you.
What are the sensations happening inside your skin? Especially, notice any areas of current discomfort, since these hold important clues to what you will need to know and do today.
If you’re not accustomed to checking in like this, you might not feel much at all or you may feel strong aversion to feeling distress. Remain current with whatever feeling or lack of sense is there. Attention to feelings takes practice. It’s a real art you can learn. Bear in mind, if you don’t pay attention to what your emotions are trying to tell you, they get stuck on repeat and keep biking.
2. Mindfulness of everything you feel changes your connection to it.
When intense feelings arise, rather than immediately trying to do something about them, make time to witness, listen to, and feel them. This action of mindfulness brings new neural connections into your habitual emotional patterns which allows them to shift. You bring a layer of awareness to your emotions which changes how they affect you.
Mindfulness releases you from being”gripped by” your emotions in a manner that”takes you over.” You get freedom and space within and about the feelings you”have,” by realizing that feelings do not define”who you are.” They’re simply information about what is going on inside you, around you, and others.
3. Emotions come and go.
Knowing that all feelings are transient is reassuring when emotions run strongly or cycle repetitively. Emotions arise with a purpose and recede as you discover their message and use their energy appropriately. When you shine the light of consciousness in your emotions, you can see what they must show you, take appropriate action, and allow them to release.
4. Every emotion carries a message.
Once you’ve tuned into the sensation of an emotion in your body, inquire what message it’s for you. What is this feeling telling you about how you’re relating to a circumstance, to yourself, and with other people?
Given this information, what action would be useful for others and yourself? Just notice what comes to mind.
Because we are not generally taught to recognize the meaning in emotions, we often overlook, ignore, or avoid their messages. When we do this, emotional energy assembles into overblown high drama to get our attention. It’s like our feelings state,”O.K. you did not get the message in my civil indoor voice, so I’m going to shout it at you.” You then feel extreme anger, overwhelming sadness, or anxiety that is through the roof.
When emotion has amped up to there, it can be helpful to bring it down a notch to a manageable level.
1. Pause, close your eyes, and take a few slow, deep, gentle breaths.
Stop what you’re doing, close your eyes, and focus on slow, deep, gentle breathing, in and out through your nose. Close your eyes and engaging in this type of breathing activates your body’s natural relaxation response, which will help dissipate the pressure, energy, and intensity of strong emotions.
2. Feel the feeling of the emotion in your body.
Notice where the emotion is located inside your body. Feel the quality of sensation there. Noticing feelings as sensations helps you see them more objectively, so you gain space from what you’re feeling.
3. Adopt the mindful perspective of a curious observer and query the emotion as if it is a friend who wants to tell you something important.
Remember that Mindfulness means paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment. With this mindset, ask your emotion questions, as if it’s a friend who is trying to give you valuable information and you are a scientist seeking discovery.
When you follow these suggestions, you change your perspective and choose the”over-the-top” intense edge from what you are feeling. Intense anger can downshift into a firm”no,” intense sadness can mellow into”letting go,” and high anxiety can settle into a motivating spur to action.
After a feeling has downshifted in intensity, it’s a lot easier to listen to it, feel it, and respond appropriately. You can take action to address the current situation. You can set boundaries, release what no longer serves you, and prepare for uncertain circumstances.
The main point is that, as opposed to 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 that, notice how they change and guide you to what you need to do right now.