How to Deal with Emotions

I know a lot of people (myself included) going through some pretty strong emotions at the moment. Whether it’s grief, a break up, betrayal, or something completely different, emotions can feel very strong and sometimes overwhelming. Sometimes you just want them to stop. I’m going to tell you now, you don’t. Emotions, even the strong and ‘negative’ ones are there for a reason. They can tell you something about yourself, you just need to learn how to understand process them.

It should be said that I’m not a psychologist, nor do I have a degree in psychology. I do however like to think I’m a person who people go to for (hopefully) good advice. What I will share with you in this blog post is my experience with emotions and how I’ve learnt to deal with emotions over the years.

Whilst we may not be able to control how we feel about something at a given point in time, we can control how we react and if we let that feeling (emotion) control us.

My Experience

I know I’m not alone in experiencing emotions. As human beings we experience emotions daily. What may differ is how people process, and react to, those emotions. Yes there are always improvements to be made, but personally I feel that I am able to process emotions relatively well. This however has not always been the case…

I was exposed to strong emotions from a relatively early age. My father died when I was 9 years old. At the time, it was painful, really painful. But what I didn’t do was properly process and grieve his death. We didn’t really talk about it at home, nor did I like to talk about it with people as I didn’t want them to feel awkward.

Fast forward roughly 12 years and I’ve gone through a bad break-up. This was the first ‘proper’ break up I’d had and boy did it hit me hard. Like really hard. I started to experience depression and disordered eating (if you want to read more on those experiences you can here). At the time I was experiencing these, I thought it was the break-up that was the problem. In actual fact it was because I hadn’t truly processed the emotions from my father’s death. It was that feeling of loosing control of the main man in my life that was the catalyst to the bigger mental health issues I experienced (big thanks to my therapist at the time for helping me through that one 🙌).

What do I do now?

The first step to processing emotions is recognising how you’re feeling. In recognising how you’re feeling you can then accept that emotion. One of the best pieces of advice given to me was by a very good friend called Georgie. I was still feeling pretty rubbish a few months after the break up and I though I should be feeling better. I told Georgie how I felt bad for not feeling better. Her reply? “Don’t feel bad about feeling bad, you can’t help it”. How right Georgie was. I hadn’t accepted the emotion and therefore wouldn’t be able to process it.

When you have accepted the emotion you can then look to understand it. Sometimes I ask myself, ‘Why am I feeling like this?’ or ‘What has caused me to feel like this?‘. Sometimes the answer is obvious, and often it’s not. I often just sit on my own with that feeling and question it. By understanding the emotion we can then process that emotion. Processing emotions can take time. There is no answer to how long it should take. For some emotions you may be able to process them in minutes or seconds. For others it could take weeks or months. I often find talking about it with friends can help as well as some good old-fashioned meditation.

Once we have processed the emotion we can learn from it. Perhaps we will be able to process it better in the future, or maybe it means you may not experience that emotion again. I guess you could say it’s a 5 step process:

  • Recognise
  • Accept
  • Understand
  • Process
  • Learn

What are your thoughts on emotions? Do you find emotions challenging? If you’d like some help to work through them you’re more than welcome to drop me a line here. I’m all ears.

Love Emma x

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