Many of the clients I work with struggle with their emotions. I myself, had trouble feeling and expressing emotion at one time. There is a sense of being numb, of not feeling “human”, since there is neither a sensation of good nor bad. Confusion begins to set in because you generally don’t know how you feel. You cannot register any emotion.
Then there are people who are overwhelmed with their emotions. Emotions are so intense, for these individuals, that the negative ones can disrupt their lives. Depression takes over, while anger, fear, and guilt become commonplace. This not only becomes a problem for them, but for those who are involved in their lives as well.
So what can be done to figure out what to do with our emotions? For those who have difficulty feeling emotion, it might start with trying to identify what they are feeling, and what to do about it. Those that are overwhelmed with emotion, can learn to let go of their negative emotions so they may be open to the lessons of their life experiences, and move forward.
Let’s start with identifying the emotion. Ask yourself, “What am I feeling?” I’m sure that you have felt a physical sensation when experiencing an emotion. I know my stomach seems to be where I feel most of my emotions, and I have a client who experiences most of her’s in her throat. Where you feel your emotion is unique to each individual, and can be unique according to each emotion. This is where it can be important to truly listen to your inner voice, and pay attention to the sensations you experience in order to help you determine the emotion you are feeling. This does take practice, so don’t get frustrated and keep with it. The more you do it, the easier it gets.
After identifying the emotion, the next step is determining the reason for the emotion. Emotions are like signals, or messages, to pay attention to an experience in order to learn what we are meant to from that situation. Karla McLaren describes this idea best in her book “Emotional Genius: Discovering the Deepest Language of the Soul”. She connects each emotion to the message that it is trying to portray to us. Here are some messages that we commonly face with negative emotions:
- Anger – you feel your boundaries are being violated, or someone’s actions are not inline with their intentions.
- Frustration – your actions are not effective
- Sadness – you have permission to release a sense of loss
- Grief – you have no choice about releasing a loss or a death that has already occurred
- Fear – pay attention to threats to your physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual well being
- Vulnerability – something significant is going to change or be revealed
- Hurt– someone has violated a boundary
- Guilt – you have violated someone else’s boundaries or your own
There is no judgment with emotions. It’s fairly simple. The message from the emotion is given, if followed; the emotion goes away, signifying that the message was received. It is when we ignore the message given by our emotions that the problems begin, and the emotion intensifies. This may cause more serious problems such as depression, anger, suicidal urges, anxiety and/or panic. If we try to face them at this moment, it may be more problematic due to the impact of the intensified emotion on our lives, as well as the lives of others around us. But don’t let that stop you from hearing the messages that your emotions are trying to tell you. It is never too late to pay attention, and if you can face it at it’s most difficult, the experience will only make you that much stronger. The idea of paying attention to the messages behind our emotions takes practice, but with practice, it opens doors for you to live the life you were intended to, with peace and happiness.
Finally, it is time to take action. So what do you do with the messages your emotions were trying to tell you? If someone takes advantage of you regularly, it might be enforcing your boundaries with that person. It might mean that you need to take the time to grieve for the loss of someone who has passed. Or, it could be that you should look at what you need to do to feel safe. Once you start acting on these emotions, in a healthy way, the negative emotions begin to fade and you will notice an influx of positive messages flowing.
If you need help managing the emotions that may be too intense, or you have numbed yourself to the point that you may no longer feel, contact the Inner Door Center at 248-336-2868 for more information on our treatment programs or visit www.innerdoorcenter.com