4 STEPS TO PROCESS UNCOMFORTABLE EMOTIONS.
Uncomfortable emotions or “negative” emotions are impossible to avoid and can be difficult, even painful to experience at times. So, what do we usually do when we face and feel uncomfortable emotions (s)?
Well, we try to do whatever it takes to ignore, numb, or get rid of our feelings; something we’ve learned in early childhood.
Most caregivers and the people around us in childhood did not have the emotional literacy to cope with difficult emotions. As a result, we end up learning and building unhealthy coping strategies to deal with challenging feelings.
But what about instead of judging and dismissing your feelings, I walk you through 4 steps you can take to manage and process uncomfortable emotions next time a situation or an issue arises?
Step 1 label your emotion(s) Process Uncomfortable Emotions
Becoming aware of uncomfortable emotions as soon as they surface themselves is a way of acknowledging your state of being. Besides, labeling the emotion tends to lessen the intensity of the feeling you are experiencing.
Want to know a simple exercise that can help you with emotional labeling? Pick different times during the day and try and name what you are feeling — Ask yourself what am I feeling right now.
Do this two times a day and use the emotion wheel down below (screenshot it) to help you with it.
Step 2 Scan your body
Different emotions bring different body sensations, so practice scanning your body and being aware of these changes. For instance, when you feel emotion X, your throat feels tight, your face feels too hot or your palms get sweaty.
Doing a body scan helps you register and familiarize yourself with the emotion. And this is one step toward accepting the feeling and not seeing it as a threat.
Step 3 Verbalize your feelings
Verbalize your feelings in as much detail as possible. Put your feelings and thoughts into words (you can say it to someone you trust or even to yourself). For instance, imagine you were supposed to meet up with a friend. After waiting for hours, she did not show up.
In this scenario, verbalizing your feelings would look like something like this “I feel hurt and upset that my friend did not even bother to text/call me or at the very least cancel our meeting. I could have used those two hours to work on my project and my deadlines.”
Step 4 Validate what you are feeling
Now that you have verbalized your thoughts and feelings, validate them. I.e., take a couple of deep breaths in and out and affirm “I feel hurt, and it is okay to feel this way.”
By doing this, you acknowledge and express acceptance of the emotional experience you are having. Sometimes, you might find yourself thinking about what happened and re-experiencing the uncomfortable emotion(s) again.
In this case, try to remind yourself of the importance of being present e.g. “I see that I am thinking about what happened earlier today and feeling the hurt again. I have processed this and dealt with it. Right now, I am bringing my attention to the task at hand.”
It is possible to learn how to process and get better at managing and dealing with difficult emotions. And just like any other skill, it takes practice. On a final note, you might be asking yourself, but what about if I want to communicate my feelings with a friend, family, or partner?
Well, for my next blog post, I will be covering and writing about how to effectively communicate and express your feelings in a healthy way that can deepen any form of relationship, including the relationship you have with yourself.
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