The only way to truly “manage” your emotions is to get into the practice of allowing them and then processing them, instead of trying to stuff them down or avoid them. We are often taught that emotions are a bad thing and that in order to be socially acceptable we have to remain unaffected and stoic at all times. Do you remember ever being told as a child to “suck it up,” or to stop being a cry-baby? This is simply ridiculous. Emotions are a natural part of being human so we might as well learn to live in harmony with them instead of constantly fighting against them. They allow us to sense danger, build community and fall in love. Would you want to give all of that up?
How can you create more peace of mind by taking control of your emotions?
Are you scared of your emotions? There is no need to be. It is important to realize that emotions are nothing more than energy in your body. When you suppress or avoid them, that energy doesn’t disappear. It stays in your body and it can build up like a pressure-cooker. This can lead to Mind-Body Syndrome with symptoms like anxiety, depression, chronic pain and illness; just to name a few. Emotions are huge red flags for where we are not setting crucial boundaries or honoring our own needs. They can contain important information for us and, if we pay attention to them, we can discover situations or relationships in our lives that need to be tweaked or dissolved for our own well-being.
Learning to allow emotions may sound scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Below is a simple, extremely effective, six-step process for allowing and processing emotions that can be used just about anywhere or anytime.
6 Steps for Feeling and Processing Your Emotions
1. Find someplace quiet or where you won’t be disturbed for at least 1-3 minutes. Set a timer for the allotted time. You can go longer if that feels right to you.
2. Ask yourself the question, “What am I feeling?” Scan your entire body, starting at your feet, and find the place in your body that is feeling emotional energy. Look simply for the energy itself, you do not have to name it or understand why it is there. It may feel like a swirling in your chest, or a pit in your stomach, constriction in your throat, or it could be something entirely different to you.
3. Close your eyes and breathe into the area you discover has the presence of the emotional energy. Notice what the energy is doing. Is it swirling? Pulsating? Throbbing? Hovering? Does it have a shape, color or a size?
4. If you notice your mind stepping in and trying to decide why it is there or to label it as good or bad, gently set aside your thoughts and get back to the business of paying attention to only the energy itself. Think of yourself as a reporter, simply observing what the energy is doing without judgment.
5. Watch the energy for 1-3 minutes and see if or how it changes. Again, you are simply watching it. You are not trying to make it do anything.
6. Journal about your experience, if you like.
You can use this tool just about anywhere but you may feel more comfortable doing it in private. If something occurs that feels like it needs to be processed during a time that isn’t convenient, remind yourself that you can process the emotion later when you are alone. Following these steps on a regular basis, even when you are not feeling upset or triggered can improve your emotional and physical health in ways you couldn’t have imagined. Setting aside time every morning and/or every night, for instance, can be extremely useful for keeping yourself more balanced, healthy and able to deal with whatever comes your way.