One of the things I help clients with is dealing with unhealthy emotions. We all have them, and they tend to turn up at the most unwanted times. They can shut us down, even paralyze us and that’s not what we want. Firstly, it’s important to understand that you are not your emotions. Also, you do have control, even when it seems like you don’t. Let me explain a little.
Emotions can overwhelm us and if you have trouble with some of the more common ones such as: anxiety, anger or even sadness, there are many ways to cope. Often when we are in the middle of a strong feeling such as anger, we lose ourselves and our reasoning and usually calm exterior goes right out the window. In the moment, all we see is RED.
Similar experiences happen with other strong emotions such as anxiety. We can have panic attacks or (literally) worry ourselves sick over something we feel that we have no control over. It’s imperative that we can regulate our emotions so that we are not out of control.
One of the ways I do this is separating myself from my feelings by imaging them outside of me. There are three main ones that I deal with and in my mind, they are round balls of energy; they have different colours and I’ve given them names.
The first one is called: Unfair. Unfair is my anger, my resentment and all the emotions that fall under those two categories. The second is: Panic. Panic is complicated and holds my deepest fears, my anxiety, worries, doubts, etc. I put a lot of emotional energy into that ball and once I allow myself to feel the feels, I empty them out into that imaginary bucket. The third is Regret. Here is where I hold my sadness, my guilt over doing things I am remorseful for, hopelessness and other feelings that can cause me to spiral downwards, such as grief.
All of them are dark colours; Unfair is red, Remorse is very dark green, and Panic is indigo. They vibrate in huge balls of light just out of reach, and I can add as much ‘stuff’ as I like. They don’t grow or shrink. They just – are.
I know I can visit these imaginary balls of feels anytime I like but I don’t need to dwell in them. I know it’s unhealthy to do so and it does me no amount of good. I allow myself to let things go and move on, knowing there are always there, lingering in the background like silent warriors, if I truly need them.
Being with my emotions allows me to process them, understand what they are and how they came to be. Working through them and letting them go lets me back into the moment and stops the potential wallow and/or falling down the rabbit hole.
We can give ourselves permission to honour our feelings but that doesn’t mean they need to move in with us and set up shop. This can lead to depression or anger-management problems and self-blame. Let’s keep our negative feelings close (in case we need them) but at a slight distance so that they don’t overwhelm and take over our lives.
Living in other emotions such as Peace and Joy, letting Love rule the day sets us up for a healthy emotional life and also allows us to deal with the bad stuff in a healthier way. It’s not perfect and it doesn’t have to be. It’s just one little trick to help navigate your complicated life.
There are many more and emotions such as complex grief will need to be handled differently and more carefully. But day-today stuff, I find, can easily fit into these spinning emotion-balls that hang out with me when I’m done working out why I am feeling what I am, I move on by letting them flow into whichever emotion receptacle makes sense.
How do you self-regulate?