One thing I wish everybody would learn in school is, how to deal with our emotions. I believe, being able to navigate our emotional ups and downs instead of being too often overwhelmed, confused and simply unable to express them appropriately would save us a lot of trouble.
Well, there seems to be no problem with our positive emotional expressions of joy, happiness and excitement. But what about the other spectrum. The sadness, grief, anger, fear?
As I am honest with you here, I can tell you that I struggled with sadness and anger a lot in my life. Not knowing where it came from, not knowing what to do about it. All I did, was suppress them. The older I got, the more I felt, something was off, and it often cost me a lot of energy to not break down into tears or shout at my loved ones. And yet, to my regret it happened anyway.
There are many reasons why these strong emotions are there. Often, they were never allowed to be expressed when we were little because our caregivers simply didn´t like us having an outburst or didn´t know how to guide us through these moments of emotional upheaval. Although this happens to everyone and is kind of normal, it doesn´t mean that there are no consequences. The fact is, unexpressed emotions don´t simply disappear when we suppress them, but instead they get stored in the body.
So, as we are going through life, we are faced with many moments that invoke these emotions: getting bullied, feeling unsafe, heart-break, the loss of a loved one, times of uncertainty or simply the state the world is in, can cause fear, grief, anger and sadness.
And sometimes we feel something welling up in us for no apparent reason. That happens as we are emotional beings, where emotions ebb and flow just like the waves in the ocean. And the sensitive ones amongst us are able to sense the emotions of others around us, leaving us with a “job” in order to process them.
So what do we do? As our lives are usually very busy, we might not be able to clearly see or rather feel what is going on. We might sense, that we are feeling low in energy, easily offended or closer to tears than usually.
Emotions are often uncomfortable and so we naturally try to distract ourselves from them. We might go to the fridge, eat more than we actually need, distract ourselves with social media, TV, alcohol or shopping in order not to feel what is welling up inside us.
But in the long run, it doesn´t work to numb our emotions. The price for shutting them down is high and can cost your well-being and health.
I really want to encourage you to start taking care of what is knocking on your door. There is a lot of help out there. For me, a facilitated breathwork session is a very great tool to release those emotions stored from the past safely.
For the beginner and for the everyday-use I offer you a little but powerful technique you might want to try out. It can help to gently take the charge out of those intense emotions you might experience once in a while:
Pause. As soon as you notice something uncomfortable arising (and before you are turning to one of the above mentioned go-tos) sit down, lay down or stand still, whatever you prefer.
Breath. Take an inbreath on a count of 5, hold the breath for 5, slowly exhale for 5. Repeat as long as you need to become calmer.
Observe. Notice, what is going on. Can you sense what is happening? Or is it just a blurry uncomfortable feeling? It really doesn´t matter that much.
Allow. What matters is, that you allow it to be here. Give it space. Yes, as much as you want it to go away quickly. Allow it to be there and not fighting against it. Is there resistance to fully feeling it? Imagine yourself, leaning into the feeling and just continue to breathe slowly and deeply.
Can you connect to the emotion? Is there something coming up? Maybe you feel like crying or moving your body?
You do not need to judge yourself for anything that is happening, don´t investigate why the emotion is there or what and who caused it. Simply allow the emotion to come up, move through your body and be released.
Relax and breathe and pat yourself on the shoulder for doing this practice.
Remember that emotions come and go and all that it needs is for us to become present, allowing them to arise and having the courage to feel them.