Therapy Thursdays are for sharing with you what I’m learning in my weekly sessions with Emily Roberts. Here is where I’ll share interesting info, tips and tricks on self-care, self-compassion, and how to be Rad. Let me know how you like Therapy Thursdays!
Today we’re going to talk about emotions – the state of mind that comes from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationship with others. Or if you’re like me, the thing that drives and overwhelms every aspect of your life. Up until a few weeks ago, I thought emotions were just something that we were born with and couldn’t necessarily change – kind of like eye color or height or fashion sense. I thought emotions were an accurate measurement of how I was doing…I thought emotions were TRUTH.
Yeah, not so much.
Turns out, instead of emotions being the end all be all, they’re actually a means to an end. Emotions are simply INFORMATION. A big neon sign telling you that either something is great (this thing is making me joyful, so I want more of this thing!) or something is wrong and needs to be changed (I’m feeling really scared right now – I need to get out of this dark alley ASAP).
The emotions that seems to have taken over my body in the last few years are Frustration and Overwhelm. Yes, with a capitol “F” and a capitol “O”. I’ve spent so many years feeling frustrated and overwhelmed that I sort of made them part of my personality (which made me super fun during holidays and parties). What I didn’t realize is that my body was trying to tell me something every time Frustration and Overwhelm showed up to play – that something needed to change. Being the rather dense sort that I can sometimes be, I didn’t realize that I could indeed, change things, so I just gritted my teeth and seethed on the inside and tried to make the uncomfortable feelings go away. The funny thing about emotions is that they’re like that chick from Fatal Attraction:
If you don’t deal with them…they keep coming back. The more you try to stuff them down and away, the bigger they become until one day they come exploding out of you and you go Full Metal Jacket on the box of plastic cling wrap because it clings to nothing but itself. Or you flip your lid over the fact that your daughter tells you at 8:30 on Sunday evening that she needs supplies for a project that’s due…you guessed it…tomorrow. Or you gain 50 pounds because you try to eat those feelings away…which only leads to more frustration and overwhelm…*sigh*
So, yes. Dealing with the emotions. How do we do that?
The simple answer is this: there is no simple answer. I wish there were, but this isn’t a short story. Dealing with emotions is more like a Harry Potter novel. Don’t misunderstand me, it’s not all drudgery and hard work – learning about emotions has been fascinating to me and completely worth it. Here are some things that I’ve been doing that are helping me:
- Name the emotion. When you are feeling frustrated, say “I’m feeling really frustrated right now!” or “Wow, I’m feeling so sad today” Acknowledge the emotion and call it by its name.
- Check in with yourself periodically throughout the day. Ask “how am I feeling right now?” and notice how your physical body feels too. Then think about what prompted this feeling, and ask yourself what would make you feel better.
- Ask yourself “what do I need RIGHT NOW?” Do I need to turn off social media because I’m doing too much comparing? Do I need to go outside and walk around in the fresh air for ten minutes? Do I need a nap? Do I need to call a trusted friend and vent for a few minutes? What can you do that will lessen the intensity of the emotion?
- As I said before, emotions are information. Think about what this particular emotion is telling you…what does this emotion need you to do? If you are feeling resentful because no one helps you around the house, maybe that feeling is telling you to delegate something to someone else. If you are feeling angry with someone, maybe that feeling is telling you that you need to express your opinion (in a respectful, calm manner) to that person more clearly. If you are feeling sad, maybe you need to set aside some time to properly grieve or mourn for something (I’m talking about garden variety sadness here. If you think you might be depressed, please talk to your doctor or a therapist. There is help out there for you.)
- Don’t be afraid to feel the feelings. Remember, they are there to help you!
We will talk more about emotions in the future I’m sure because there is so much to talk about. I am learning a great deal about why I feel the way I do and what I can do to change the situations that have led me to feel so frustrated and overwhelmed. And the great thing about this is that there are always opportunities to practice what I’ve learned, and I keep trying to do better and learn more each time.
If this resonates with you, let me know. Don’t be afraid to do the work that is ultimately going to benefit you and those around you. Take care of YOU.