You might want to think of yourself as a rational being, however, in fact, your life is inspired by emotions. They inspire decisions, move you to action, or paralyze you in anxiety, anxiety, and fear. They are the basis of your finest memories and the bond that produces deep connections with other people. In this guide, we will explore four principles for skillfully working with your emotions and three tips to handle intense feelings like anxiety, anger, and sadness when they threaten to overwhelm you.
It is possible to feel anxious one minute, angry the next, and then have waves of despair flood through you apparently out of nowhere. Because they can take you on such wild rides, it is natural to be somewhat wary of strong emotions – and do what you can to avoid them or keep them at bay.
You’ve 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 those feelings you wish you could forget. Images of emotional trauma are stored deep in your subconscious, warning you to be cautious once you feel these emotions yourself or witness them in different folks.
In the face of vulnerable feelings, a more logical approach may feel safer. It’s easier to focus on your thoughts and not venture into the scary world of feelings. Yet, reason has its limitations. You may think you’re more rational than you are. While you can logically weigh choices or consider different thoughts, the final”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”gut feelings.”
Because emotions are so closely connected to actions and decisions, in addition to being connected to threatening memories along with your most powerful inspirations and interpersonal connections, it’s important to understand how to manage them skillfully. Let’s 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 managing emotions well.
Four Principles to Deal with Emotions Skillfully
While 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 mind, where they’re saved as strain on your body, eat away at your peace of mind, and eventually 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 need to address them.
Emotions arise to offer you specific details on what is happening inside you, around you, and with others-and this information will stick with you until it’s acknowledged and heeded. Thus, it’s important to shift your perspective out of fear of emotions to seeing them as helpful guides. Emotions arise with information you need about your life and the ability to do it on this information. Thus, the number one principle of handling emotions is to stop ignoring them and listen to what they must show you.
What are the sensations happening inside your skin? Especially, notice any areas of current discomfort, as these hold important clues to what you need to know and do today.
If you’re not accustomed to checking in like this, you may not feel much at all or you may feel strong aversion to feeling distress. Stay present with whatever feeling or lack of sense is there. Attention to feelings requires practice. It is a real skill you can learn. Remember, if you do not 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 connection to it.
Mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment. When extreme feelings arise, instead of immediately trying to do something about them, take 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 impact you.
Mindfulness releases you from being”gripped by” your emotions in a way that”takes you over.” You get freedom and space within and around the feelings you”have,” by recognizing that feelings do not define”who you are.” They’re only information about what is happening inside you, around you, and others.
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 awareness on your emotions, you can see what they have to show you, take appropriate action, and allow them to release.
As soon as you’ve tuned into the sensation of an emotion in your body, ask it what message it’s for you. What’s this feeling telling you about how you’re relating to a circumstance, to yourself, and with others?
Given this information, what actions would be useful for yourself and others?
Because we aren’t generally taught to recognize the significance in emotions, we often overlook, ignore, or prevent their messages. When we do this, emotional energy builds into overblown high play 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 yell it in you.” You then feel extreme anger, overwhelming sadness, or anxiety that is through the roof.
When emotion has amped up to that point, it can be useful to bring it down a notch to a manageable level. A few simple actions can help you do this.
3 Tips to Handle Intense Emotions
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 type of breathing activates your body’s natural relaxation response, which will help dissipate the pressure, energy, and intensity of powerful emotions.
2. Feel the feeling of the emotion in your body.
Notice where the emotion is located in your body. Feel the quality of feeling there. Noticing feelings as sensations helps you witness them more objectively, so you obtain space from what you are feeling.
3. Adopt the mindful perspective of a curious observer and question the emotion as if it’s a friend who wants to tell you something important.
Bear in mind 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’s attempting to give you valuable information and you’re a scientist seeking discovery.
When you follow these tips, you change your perspective and take the”over-the-top” extreme edge from what you’re feeling. Intense 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.
After a feeling has downshifted in intensity, it’s easier to listen to it, feel it, and react appropriately. You can take action to deal with the current situation. You can set boundaries, release what no longer serves you, and prepare for uncertain circumstances.
The bottom line is that, rather than fearing the emotional intensity of fear, anger, and sadness, see if you’re able to move toward those feelings with a mindful, inquisitive attitude. As you do this, notice how they shift and guide you to what you need to do right now.