Emotions can be uncomfortable.
What choices do I have to deal with uncomfortable emotions?
Ignore or dismiss emotions?
Avoid them by suppressing them? What about burying them deep below the surface?
Place them in a container with a strong locking lid—like a Pandora’s Box and hope that it never resurfaces and comes back to haunt you.
What would it look like to investigate emotions? To recognize our emotions, understand them, and listen. To understand and learn.
What if instead of trying to “get rid” or hide the emotion, we allowed it to be just where it is?
What would it look like to embrace all aspects of your emotional experience to where you can be your authentic self? To feel connected, offer yourself compassion, and experience a sense of newfound freedom.
Investigating emotions without suppressing them does involve leaning into discomfort. It can feel scary to go below the surface. To take a “deep dive”. There may be fear of discovering something that you may not feel equipped to handle.
That is why it is important to know that there are others who would love to support you on this incredible journey of self-discovery. After all, therapists are experts in the areas of emotions! We can help guide you by developing a roadmap, exploring in a safe environment, and utilizing strategies such as the ones listed below.
Use Feelings Tools
• Try using a feelings wheel or other tools to get familiar with feeling words. This is a great first step in creating awareness.
Learn how to Check in with Yourself
• Try checking in with yourself throughout the day on what you are experiencing, what combinations of feelings, and what intensity of emotion. Activities such as journaling and meditation throughout the week are great activities to utilize at home in addition to therapy.
Get in Touch with Your Body
• Get outside your mind and in tune with the rest of your body. Mindfulness, yoga, and emotion-focused interventions are great ways to get started.
Try RAIN for Self-Compassion Meditation.
For guided meditation, click here
Recognize what is going on.
This involves a conscious acknowledging (not ignoring or dismissing!)
Allow the experience to be there, just as it is.
Letting go of judgment here is so important. Busying through distraction often makes it difficult to take a pause to create space for the experience to be.
Investigate with kindness
Allow yourself to be able to connect with the uncomfortable emotion and respond with kindness. Offer yourself compassion.
Enjoy the freedom resulting from the awareness that one’s sense of self is not defined by the emotional experience.
Written By: Charlotte Johnson, MA, LPCC
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