Check out the article I wrote for ModBod:
Emotions can be overwhelming. Feelings like sadness, anger, grief, and loneliness can seem unbearable, especially when we live in a society ill-equipped in understanding the purpose and function of human emotion.
The typical formula is suppression, repression, denial, or some form of intellectual or spiritual bypass. We’d just assume not have any emotion, than to feel the painful ones.
Unfortunately, we need our emotions to function optimally as a human. Emotions are an integral part of our internal guidance system, and when we ignore or suppress them, we cause major damage not only to our mental health, but our physical health as well.
Here are 4 tips to deal with difficult emotions:
1. Allow yourself to feel: The reason difficult emotions feels so…well…difficult, is because we resist them. We want to feel good, and when emotions arise that conflict with what we want, we typically suppress, repress, or bypass. The resistance between what we feel and what we want to feel causes immense intensity in the emotional body — this is because the emotions are being held back. When we release into the emotion, the pressure eases.
Emotions are meant to be felt. They are our vibrational indicators and are necessary for our survival and happiness in this life. Emotions let you know where you are (vibrationally) in relation to where you want to be. When we resist how we feel, our guidance system has to resort to other measures to get our attention (like sickness in the body). Give yourself permission to feel what you feel. Feeling is not failing.
2. Validate how you feel: Once we allow ourselves to feel what we feel, validation is crucial. Often we feel as if our emotions are out of context: perhaps we feel we are overreacting, or maybe we’ve been told we’re just “too sensitive.” But emotions are always valid. We feel what we feel for a reason. The intensity of what we feel may not be directly related to what is occurring at the moment, but the emotions come from somewhere, and they matter, nonetheless. For true healing to take place, the emotional body must be trusted. You don’t have to act on the emotion for validation, simply tell yourself “What I feel is okay.”
3. Release the emotion: Now that our emotions have been felt and validated, it’s time to let them go. Emotions, once felt, must be released. Release is not the same as suppressing or bypassing. It’s not forcing yourself to feel differently or ignoring the pain. Release is about allowing our emotional body to run efficiently. Emotions are meant to flow. When we block the flow, it causes imbalances in the body and (as noted above), sometimes illness. If you’re having a hard time releasing an emotion, it probably has not been fully validated. Go back to step 2 and take time to validate how you feel. Deep trauma takes time to heal.
4. Direct your focus toward relief: Relief goes hand-in-hand with releasing emotion. Once you’ve let an emotion go, ask yourself what you need and give attention and focus to the feeling of relief. Your internal guidance always knows what it needs, and it’s always speaking to you. You may have to practice listening, but it will communicate. What do you need? Maybe it’s a hot bath, a walk in nature, or dinner with a friend. Don’t hesitate to pamper yourself after the release of a difficult emotion. Taking care of your emotional needs is how you develop trust with yourself and build a strong emotional body.
Emotions can be powerful tools, but terrible masters. Treat them with respect but don’t fear them. They are your friends and comrades in this life experience. Welcome them in.