Therapy Thursday: Emotions

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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:

giphy

via Giphy

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.

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9 thoughts on “Therapy Thursday: Emotions

  1. debby

    Hmmm, once again I am reminded of my mother… she was always good at delegating, and taking time for herself. Not going overboard, but just realistic. So that was good modeling for me.

    She also had the habit of cutting people off, like out of her life. If she didn’t like what they did or how they treated her, she just got angry and cut them out, like the relationship didn’t matter to her. I have inherited this TERRIBLE habit(?) and just recently have been able to identify it. When I find myself starting to do that, I make myself tell myself that I am hurt, not angry. There’s a big difference there.

    Thanks for the therapy moment 🙂

    • My dad is like that – he can cut somebody out with the snap of a finger. No big deal. It’s good that you recognized that in yourself so you can change that behavior. And you are so right – there’s a BIG difference between being hurt and being angry, although when I am hurt, it tends to show itself as being angry. Oooh these emotions are so tricky!!!

  2. I’m not allowed to have emotions, or at least not negative ones. That wouldn’t be nice.

    For example, if my husband works late a lot as he does at certain times I’m not allowed to be upset (MY restriction, I stress, not his!) because it’s not like he’s out partying, he’s working hard for his family. It would be unreasonable of me to be frustrated that the children and I are hardly even seeing him, or angry that I have to look after things at home by myself, or sad that he seems to put his work before me and the kids.

    I think I got this from my mother! You just struggle on with whatever happens (and bitch about it on your blog). You don’t show your emotions to the person who actually needs to know. And then you occasionally explode, to everyone’s surprise (especially your own).

    • Oh Natalie – I can SO relate!! I have often felt this exact same way -except with my husband it isn’t work, it’s hobbies. His summer hobby (fishing) takes up a lot of time and I used to get really resentful about it. I would seethe until I couldn’t hold it in any longer and we would end up having a blowout over it. We’ve had enough “discussions” that he has finally cut back and I no longer begrudge him the time he does spend. So we got that one worked out, but there are so many other areas I need to work on that are like this.

      The one thing I am learning is that my feelings/opinions are valid and deserve to be heard. Like Debby said above, maybe it’s not that you are upset/mad/resentful, maybe it’s that you are actually hurt instead. Might be something to explore.

      Hugs to you sister – I feel your pain.

  3. …emotions are information. Think about what this particular emotion is telling you…what does this emotion need you to do?

    What I try to practice (with the help of a therapist) is to recognize the emotion and assess what is in my control – and what I need to let go. Natalie (above) and I share the same husband… I too can’t discuss his lack of availability because he’s doing the best he can and if I want to sell the house and make the kids quit their activities…. he’ll gladly leave his job so he can see us more. .. Yes, we’ve beat that horse DEAD…

    What is in my control? How can I make my day better, more positive, meaningful? Number one is self care – I NEVER regret going to the gym… That is my mantra. I go to 2 Body Pump classes, one Spin and on Saturday mornings rain or shine, 6:30 a.m. I run with my sisters/friends and have coffee talk afterwards. NON NEGOTIABLE.

    Bitching NEVER works for me. It only allows the resentment to seethe. Don’t get me wrong, I feel overwhelmed a lot, but my life is a work in progress. I do what I can in the moment. I choose how to react in any given situation. The hardest part is letting go of what I can’t control and that is what I have to practice most of all.

    • I’m learning this too!! Improving the situation and taking care of what I can control and letting go of what I can’t – this is a big one! I’m also learning that self care is an everyday thing – not just a big gesture I do for myself once a month, but something that I can do every single day, whether it’s a walk in the park or a half hour to read – I have to do something every single day.

      I love your comment – thanks so much for chiming in!

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