Do you ever find yourself getting emotional and saying …
“I don’t know what came over me! I got so emotional.”
“This is ridiculous, I need to stop being so emotional.”
“I’m overwhelmed emotionally. Why can’t I stop crying!?”
Part of being human means we feel. Emotions take us into the world, and connect us with others.
When we feel emotional it is primarily in relation to other people. Emotions indicate to us how we feel about ourselves and others in our present experience. They tell us just how much something matters and the value we place on things and people. Therefore, they are important. So, if you find you are condemning them, remember that they are a vital part of what it is to be human.
At times when you feel emotional, the healthiest thing to do is not to hold the feelings back, or distract yourself away from them, but rather to just to express them, get closer to understanding them, and then integrating them into your life.
If you are always angry … punching a boxing bag or hitting a pillow will ease the immediate intensity of the emotion, but it won’t change anything, because your emotions remain within you, trying to tell their story.
Are some emotions good, and others bad?
Some people think of emotions as good and bad, with the bad ones coming from dysfunctional or faulty thinking. Consequently, this leads to an apparent need to eradicate these emotions by detaching and dismissing our thinking.
Have you ever been told to ‘think more positively’, no matter how you’re feeling? Or count to 10 to stop yourself from being angry or frustrated. Did it work? Often, it’s not a great solution, and an unnatural reaction to an emotion that is telling you something.
Your emotions are not to be ignored, distracted away from, condemned or ‘thought’ away. They are an important source of information of where and how you are. If you deny them you are denying yourself from understanding what is happening at a deeper level within you.
For example, if you’re emotionally very low, you might keep people away from you so you are not challenged by anything or anyone. But what’s underneath? What is really going on?
Getting to know your emotional messages …
- Appreciate that your emotions are the driving force of all your experiences, and that’s just how it should be.
- Begin to recognize them. Find a variety of words to describe how you are feeling at a particular time. Psychologist Robert Plutchik states that there are eight basic emotions: joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness, anticipation, anger, and disgust. Plutchik created the ‘wheel of emotions’ below, which illustrates the various relationships among the emotions, and the varying degrees to which you can feel different emotions.
- Explore the energy of your emotions in a positive way. So, if you are angry, feel the energy that is there and look at how you can manage it without squashing or denying it.
- Emotions flow through you and come and go at different intensities in different situations, so embrace them, feel them, as this connects you to your aliveness. Articulate and describe them in greater detail, because the greater the description the greater the understanding of what they are showing you about yourself, your life and other people.
- Work out what they are showing you about what’s important to you, and what your values are.
Living in harmony with your emotions is your goal. You are never free from your emotional self, so embrace this part of you, and use what you feel as a guiding force in your life.
Author: Dr Tom Barber
Dr Tom Barber is an experienced integrative and existential psychotherapist and counsellor, who has been helping people overcome personal challenges for the last 25 years. He is a bestselling author of 4 books, and spends his time between private clients, teaching and lecturing internationally, writing, and developing programmes to help people improve the quality of their life. His academic speciality is in the subject of emotion.
Originally posted 2017-04-13 13:17:02.