All of us have experienced emotions such as anger, hatred or jealousy in such powerful doses that we can be literally knocked sideways. Because of the extraordinary influence our feelings can have upon our lives, it’s said that our ability to handle emotions is actually more important than how intelligent we are in predicting success. So how do you go about handling them?
This first essential step seems such a simple thing to do, but there can be dozens of reasons why we find it difficult. Years of being told that some feelings, such as anger or jealousy are ‘bad’ feelings (so if you feel them, you must be a ‘bad’ person) can push us into total denial. We can also avoid accepting certain feelings to save ourselves from being overwhelmed. If you feel angry, for example, you can end up feeling frustrated that you’re angry, and then irritated that you’re frustrated and ultimately ashamed about the whole stack. Accepting our feelings helps us feel one thing at a time, and one feeling is much easier to deal with than several.
Acceptance is powerful and you may find that it alone is enough to shrink the enormity of an emotion that otherwise feels as though it might overwhelm you. Often, greeting the onslaught of a powerful emotion with the energy of warmth and acceptance immediately changes it. It gets softer and there’s a sense of gratitude within it.
Learn to read the signals when they’re small
As you become more comfortable about accepting your feelings you can learn to recognise when they start to boil. If you are feeling angry, for example, the time to do something useful about it is when you first feel the stirrings of adrenaline, notice a pounding heart, or hear your own voice changing. At the point where you are full out raging, nobody will be able to get through to you and you won’t be able to get through to yourself, either!
If necessary, take time out
Some things in life can push our buttons beyond all reason. It is absolutely fine to take time out. It could just mean literally leaving a room for a few minutes to gather yourself. People often feel that they have to stay and deal with something at the very moment when they are least able to be effective because they are overwhelmed by their emotions. Asking for some time to gather your thoughts is a positive step towards reclaiming your power.
Learn from it
Every feeling comes with a message. Anger alerts us that a boundary has been crossed. Jealousy reveals what we perceive to be lacking in our own life. Once you have accepted the feeling, you can get curious about what it has come to show you about yourself.
Act on it, but don’t act it out
We don’t have to feel an emotion in order to act upon the wisdom it brings. It’s the difference between acting upon something and acting out. In fact, emotions carry such a powerful energy that, if we find that we need to speak with someone else, they may be so impacted by what we are feeling that they can’t hear what we’re saying. If someone has crossed an important boundary, for example, you can say no with anger, or you can say no cheerfully or lovingly.
Understand we’re all different
Remember that what drives you up the wall might not be a big deal to someone else, and visa versa, and many things that people do to seemingly wind us up are in fact not personal. I can’t bear mess, for example, but not everyone feels like that. Some people are driven wild by people being late whilst others are quite happy to wait. There are those who can live with infidelity within romantic relationships, whereas for others that would be the absolute end. Our emotional triggers are always personal to us. You can still ask for your preferences to be taken into account, but accepting that we’re all different can make it easier to understand that instead of setting out to cross us, other people might just be trying to be true to themselves too. That doesn’t mean you have to live with what you find totally unacceptable. It just means that you can begin to make more informed choices when you become clear on which of your boundaries are permeable and those that cannot be crossed.
Remember that we are all here to learn and no one is perfect. We all get it wrong sometimes, and forgiving ourselves makes it easier to forgive others and move on.
Treat yourself lovingly and be your own best friend. Do something nice for yourself. It could be anything from cuddling into a favourite jumper to giving yourself the time to take a long, hot soak in a bath scented with essential oils. Show yourself that you love you unconditionally.
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