I’ll get right to it.
Here I gave you my best technique to prevent you feeling miserable in adverse circumstances, and in this post I follow it up with my favourite way of expressing emotions in a healthy way. So, let’s get in the mood, shall we?
Let’s say that some foolio just cut you up in traffic causing you anger and frustration. GRRR!
Here’s an example of how it can go:
EVENT: Someone cuts you up in traffic
THOUGHT: That XXXXXX, how very DAAARE they?!
REACTION: Shouting, swearing
FEELING: Anger, frustration
It doesn’t feel like it goes in stages, it’s more like it overwhelms you all at once. But, like I said in my previous post, it’s your THOUGHTS about an event that set off your physiological reactions and your feelings, NOT the other way around.
Now, with the best will in the world, unless you’re the Dalai Lama, you’re gonna get triggered by an unsavoury event, at least sometimes.
You’re gonna think unhelpful thoughts, and therefore do unhelpful stuff, and therefore feel a bit sh*te.
And it’s how to EXPRESS THESE SH*TE FEELINGS in a healthy way that’s the point of this post.
Here’s what we do, we work backwards.
STEP ONE: Notice your emotions. Can you put a label on them? Anger? Sadness? Loneliness? Disappointment?
Don’t try to block them out, or suppress them. Allow whatever feelings are there to just be.
You’re human, goddamnit, you’re gonna feel stuff and it’s essential you allow yourself to, otherwise it’ll fester like that fortnight-old cucumber you keep ignoring at the back of the salad drawer. It’ll go mushy and mouldy and gross and will ruin the rest of your salad items. Get it out now; the sooner the better.
STEP TWO: Notice what you’re physically doing. Are your shoulders slumped? Is your head hanging? Are you crying? Is your face screwed up? Are you yelling? Are you smashing plates on the kitchen floor..?
Take a look at yourself. Witness your own behaviour. Unless you’re putting yourself or someone else in danger*, don’t try to stop it, allow it to be and become acutely aware of it. Watch what you’re doing, as though you’re a third party looking on.
*If you’re putting yourself or someone else in danger, that’s a whole other ballgame, and I advise you to please seek out counselling as soon as possible, because it’s not something that can be tackled in a quick blog post. But it can be sorted out, you just need to see an expert who can help you with it.
STEP THREE: Control your thoughts. Tell yourself it’s not only OK to feel this emotion, but that it’s actually good for you and important that you do, and that it’s OK to react to it.
Then tell yourself that you are NOT that emotion. The emotion is like a hat or a pair of shoes that you’re wearing for now, but it isn’t YOU, it doesn’t DEFINE you and it certainly doesn’t CONTROL you.
It’s this awareness of your feelings and reactions, and your acceptance of them, that will allow your emotions to be expressed quickly and healthily and therefore dissipate.
And that’s it. In summary:
1) Notice your emotions and allow them to be. Witness them.
2) Notice your reactions and allow them to be. Witness them.
3) Tell yourself it’s OK to feel these emotions, it’s OK to react to them, but that you are NOT the emotions, you are simply witnessing them.
Through this awareness and allowance, the emotions will dissipate healthily.
In the following blog post, I tackle HOW TO DEAL WITH OTHER PEOPLE when they’re reacting to an emotion.
But before you look at that, I’d love to know if you have any tips for dealing with emotions – yours or someone else’s. Let’s have a discussion about it in the comments, below.
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