In all my years of working with emotions and stress, these last few year have been the most bizarre. However, no matter how strange the circumstances or how unnerving our experiences, we are still the same human beings with the same brains and biology, and the importance of understanding and managing our own emotions remains unchanged.
During the first Covid lockdown I created a video of ten tips for dealing with anxiety, fear, overwhelm and other stress-producing emotions. As vaccine roll-outs increased and numbers went down creating a light of hope, our emotions were no longer as fear-driven – (although for many, the war in Ukraine initiated a whole new level of anxiety). Nevertheless, coming out of experiencing such a strangely disturbing and for many traumatic time, our resilience was sorely tested - and now with one new crisis after another, our emotions are still just as, if not more stress-producing. So, the tips apply equally; they are all practical and they work. The video is still available HERE
Regardless of which unpleasant emotions you may have felt or be feeling, consider changing your view of those emotions as negative, instead letting go of any judgment of your emotions.
To help with this, here are some statements to ponder and even apply;
‘Negative’ Feelings Don’t Exist
Actually, there are no ‘negative’ emotions, because all emotions are ‘messages’ and meant to serve a purpose. Your fears and negative conditioning (from the past and often from childhood) are what judge your feelings as negative or unwanted. Whenever this occurs, you can feel disconnected and disempowered,
Through becoming open to exploring and understanding another view of your emotions, you can recognize how each “negative” feeling you experience is actually giving you information that’s meant to inform and guide you, often to make a change or to tune into someone else’s perspective.
Let Go and BE with Your Feelings
A typical way most of us try to deal with our negative emotions is to resist them - try to control, rise above, ignore, or somehow free ourselves from them- all of which are actually dissociating actions. While it is natural to want to distance ourselves from what we don’t like, when we do, we also disconnect from the self-criticism or shame we subconsciously may feel about ourselves, which then leads us to begin justifying why we feel the way we do, including blaming others or external circumstances. Ironically, this will keep us increasingly attached to the painful emotion and can create an endless loop of distress.
You CAN Choose What You Feel
However, once you identify and name what you feel, you can instead make the choice to breathe with it – take a nice long exhale, then a deep breath in and another very long exhale – and allow the anxious ‘voice’ of that negative emotion to fully surface Then write it all down. By writing down the emotion messages, your inner critic will ‘feel heard’, which means the mental chatter will dramatically reduce and may even dissolve completely.
Listen to the Wisdom of Your Uncomfortable Feeling
Once you have allowed the unpleasant mental chatter to feel heard, your innate wisdom will have the chance to surface. Shift your focus to your heart area and breathe slowly, lengthening the exhale. Ask yourself: What does my inner wisdom want to say? What is my emotion trying to show me? Whatever comes to you, write it down. It may be something you can act on – in which case, do!
We are (now!) free to Connect!
Moving through your own emotions in this way, makes it easier to reach out to others, and there is no lockdown on emotional connection with others!
A silver lining that seems to have appeared from the gloominess of the past few years, at least for many of my clients and I’m sure others, is an improved ‘work-life balance’ as many are spending less time working and travelling, and more time with family or finding ways to connect.
Connecting with other people, -even on screen or just a smile with your eyes to a passer-by-, is one of the most important, healing, and helpful application of emotional mastery. From a neuroscience perspective, connecting with others (even just in a phone call) will release the neuropeptide oxytocin, also known as the ‘bonding hormone’. This down-regulates feelings of distress even in micro-moments of connection.
Most importantly of all, connecting with yourself and your own intuitive capacity to access your emotional wisdom can be THE most important tool you can have. Be your own best friend and appreciate something -anything- about yourself. As you do this you not only feel better, you also boost your immune system!
Since our emotional health and ability to manage all our stress is irrevocably linked to our immune system and ability to fight disease, …. well, enough said!