In last week’s blog, we discussed how we all experience different versions of pain in our lives and that it is extremely essential for your well being that you allow yourself to express your feelings.
While this is true, it also realistic to say that our daily routines are typically so demanding that we find ourselves in many situations and places where we need to suppress our hurtful feelings. It is socially acceptable to laugh and smile in public, but what about all the “negative” emotions we have, like: anger, sadness, depression, and anxiety?
It is certainly not appropriate to cry, scream, or be physically aggressive when we are in school, at work, during social occasions, or in public places. When we are at home, we are preoccupied with a myriad of other responsibilities, such as: parenting, housework, errands, and, let us not forget, being emotionally and physically available to our spouses and partners. It seems like just having the time and space to express our negative feelings is a luxury. As a result, we typically “stuff down” the anger we feel about an argument we had with a friend or family member, the grief we feel about the loss of a loved one, the betrayal we feel when we have not been supported by loved ones during a very stressful time, and the list goes.
Where do all these repressed emotions go? I believe we store them in a mental file which I call, “feelings to be dealt with at another time.” Of course, unless we create the time to get these feelings out of our minds the energy of our negative feelings accumulates and eventually manifests as mental and physical disorders.
So how do we constructively manage our feelings? The following are some suggestions on how to manage your emotions in healthy ways:
- Create a daily quiet time and space for yourself– This can be for as little as 10 minutes a day – perhaps the first thing in the morning or the last thing before you go to bed. This is time that you are sanctioning as a healing time for yourself. If you do not declare a daily “healthy me” time and space, you can be quite sure that everything and everyone else in your life will take priority.
- Close your eyes and breathe – Inhale deeply into your lungs to the count of 5, hold the breath to the count of 5, then slowly exhale to the count of 10. Repeat this at least 5 times. This automatically calms down your “fight or flight” response.
- Identify your feelings – Many times we are unaware of what emotions we are holding in. Ask yourself, “What am I feeling?” Is it grief? Feeling unimportant? Abused? Becoming conscious of your feelings is important because you are the only one who can access the emotion(s) that you need to express.
- Accept whatever you are feeling – Just observe whatever you are sensing with absolutely no judgment. Feelings are not “right” or “wrong.” It is just energy which, by its very definition, is constant motion. Feelings are not meant to be stored – they are meant to be expressed. Pain is actually blocked energy.
- Interpret the connection – Is this a familiar feeling that is based on a present time situation, or do you sense that it is linked to a previous event? Perhaps you are having a major response to a minor situation because you are associating it with an event in the past that caused great trauma. For example, if you are breaking up a friendship, is this the same feeling of abandonment you had when your parents got divorced? If so, the time has come to deal with the underlying source of your emotional trigger.
- Pay attention to how your body is feeling – Mentally scan your body. Are you feeling this emotion in your heart? Is your throat tight? Is your head pounding? Then inhale a deep breath of energy into your heart and exhale it out into the areas where you are feeling the pain. You may discover you are holding the pain in many parts of your body. Take your time – there is no rush. What you are doing is unblocking the energy by creating movement through your breath.
- Express your feelings verbally – It may help you to journalize your feelings, talk to a compassionate friend, or seek the services of of a spiritual healer or professional counselor.
- Express feelings physically – Spending time in nature and playing with a beloved animal companion are wonderful ways to balance your energy. Physical exercise is also a very effective way to vent your feelings in a constructive way. Some other effective outlets for pent up energy: Find a private place and cry as much as you want; or, if you are angry, get in your car, find a place that is away from the crowd and scream your head off! Honestly, as strange as this may seem, screaming can be a very cathartic, healing experience.
- Review your options – Ultimately, there are only a few ways we can manage any situation that is causing pain: Sometimes we can remove ourselves from the situation or away from the person. If not, we can change our perception about the situation. If neither of the above is possible, we can choose to accept things as they are. Anything else is a choice to stay stuck!
These are just a few ideas for honoring yourself by giving yourself permission to express your true feelings.
Remember it is human to feel a huge range of emotions. Our stress is not caused by the actual events and situations we experience; rather it is how we choose to respond to our life challenges.
I welcome your input on how you have effectively managed some of the many challenging experiences that have come into your life.
Love and Light
Click to read last week’s blog, Give Yourself Permission to Feel Your Feelings: Part 1 of 2