We all have them – difficult emotions. Sometimes the struggle is with anger, sometimes it is with fear, or shame, or deep sadness. The difficulty is often in what feels uncontrollable; a reaction that feels out of our grasp and all-consuming. But we can learn to help control and contain difficult emotions.
- The first step is to simply begin to be aware of your emotions. It is to understand that it is not the feeling that gets you into trouble. Every feeling that you have is meant to be there. It is either instinctual, you learned it, or through experience, associations to feelings were formed. And so, the first step is simply to begin to notice how we are feeling. Simply observe and describe – no judgement. “Hearing that makes me feel sad.” “I am so angry right now.” “Everything feels tight.” “I can feel the calmness inside.”
- Understand that feelings are impermanent. They come and go. They have the ability to pass. When we focus on simply observing our emotions (without having to act on them right away), we begin to understand the impermanence of emotion.
- Move towards acceptance. The feelings that you have are meant to be there. This doesn’t give us permission to give in to the action urge of the feeling, but it does give us the important understanding that our feelings do actually work for us.
Tomorrow’s post will look at the “0 to 60” reaction that often accompanies difficult emotions and the steps we can take to slow that down.