5 ways to deal with difficult emotions + 7 Journal Prompts
It would be so easy to shut off each time we’re hit with unpleasant waves of emotions and feelings. Emotions and feelings are both pleasant and unpleasant that’s a known fact but we hardly express them when we experience them. We tend to suppress our unpleasant emotions and feelings and we don’t have enough time to express our pleasant emotions and feelings. Our reaction to the emotions has a significant effect in the way we act, think and believe. It can change our quality of life.
I’ve come to understand that emotions and feelings have a way of telling us something. They tend to teach us something. They are messengers showing us a path. If we let go of the fear that clouds over expressing these feelings and emotions it can help us live a very meaningful and mindful life.
There’s no book that says we “Have to” experience only pleasant emotions and discard unpleasant ones. There’s no book that says we won’t experience unpleasant emotions. It’s this fear that has pushed many of us to think that we “must always” feel good and positive.
There isn’t and will never be a time when you will only feel pleasant emotions.
So, we need to learn how to deal with difficult emotions and feelings.
In the program I offer, which is a guided visualization and breath-work program, is primarily aimed at helping people understand bottled up feelings and emotions. Each time I work with a client, I am amazed to see just how good we’ve become from suppressing emotions, hiding how we feel because we’re afraid of being judged and ridiculed and belittled. We’re afraid of accepting these emotions even to us in private because we’re not ready to face the truth that these emotions bring in our lives. It changes the way we see ourselves. So, we hide it, suppress it and tend to lie even to ourselves. It works for a while, but emotions get triggered from time to time and these suppressed feelings and emotions tend to resurface. Causing a bigger threat that before. Instead of moving one step ahead this takes us four steps behind.
Its not easy to show up session after session to face that emotion and feeling but when they do (clients), when they close their eyes and take a deep breath and get started with the session, they not only feel lighter, happier but also understand these emotions and feelings better.
In this article I’m sharing a few ways that can help you deal with difficult emotions, in a healthier way.
01 Replace Negative with difficult – In my opinion emotions and just emotions. The problem arises when we try to divide it into positive and negative. This way we’re telling ourselves that the positive emotions and feelings are good and acceptable and the negative emotions and feelings are bad and unacceptable. When you replace or substitute negative to difficult or tough it implies that these emotions need some work and once, we do required work on them they’ll be easier to express and experience.
02 Name the emotions – This should be fairly simple right? But it never really is. Most of us feel very uncomfortable to name what we feel. Because we are afraid of the judgement that follows, we take the easy road and say – I feel good, I feel bad, or the worst of all I feel depressed. But what happens when we say – I feel Jealous, I feel guilty, I feel upset, I feel embarrassed, I feel ashamed, I feel insecure? When we name a feeling, there’s a focus on that particular feeling, making it easy to understand it. But when we limit it to just bad or depressed there’s a block and we don’t spend time on it enough to deal with it.
03 Understand the Trigger – What caused this emotion? Sometimes its not so much the emotion but the event and situation that caused this emotion. When we find the trigger or the source and understand why it occurred, the loop we’re in, it helps us change the way we feel. This acknowledgement allows us to let go of that trigger and break the loop and helps bring a shift in our mindset and this tends to change the way we feel.
04 Compassion and Kindness – I wish we could treat ourselves the way we treat our friends when they’re in crisis. But we forget that the primary relationship we have is one we have with ourselves. If we don’t treat us right it doesn’t matter how we treat other people. One of the ways to deal with difficult and tough emotions is to show kindness, compassion and support instead of being too judgemental and hard on ourselves. Its not about self-case as much as it is about less critical chatter or negative self-talk.
05 Look for the message – Emotions and feelings are messengers. They show us signs about those unresolved experiences, thoughts, beliefs, situations that we’re not paying attention to, that need our attention. Understanding what the emotion and feeling is trying to tell us, brings a huge change in the way we change our thoughts and beliefs. Sometimes it allows us and encourages us to let go of pain, move toward our achievement and balance, it helps us live a fulfilling and mindful life.
Just in case you need further assistance, try to journal these prompts anytime you’re experiencing a difficult emotion.
What am I feeling right now?
What caused this emotion or feeling?
What is this emotion or feeling trying to tell me?
What can I let go from this feeling or emotion?
What can I adapt from this feeling or emotion?
What do I need right now?
What step can I take right now to feel better?
I used to block the unpleasant feelings and try to suppress it with anger, food, sleep but with time I’ve learnt how to compassionately deal with it. I allow all the feelings and emotions in my life today without forcing myself to feel positive and happy.
I take my time and allow the emotions to fill me up, even the unpleasant ones. With the help of these prompts and these tips I usually find my balance. Initially this process felt tedious and I felt weird to constantly keep me in check but, with time I realized how mindful this process is.
The next time you experience a difficult emotion I hope you remember this article and take sometime to journal for insight and clarity. Share your experiences with me via email or tag me on Instagram showing your journaling experience.