Today, I want to discuss how we can cope and deal with uncomfortable feelings. I discuss this in depth in my program, but as I’m limited in this blog I will share some brief, effective tips that can help you cope with your emotions and emotional pain.
The goal for all of us is to take charge of our lives instead of being pushed around by people, circumstances, and our emotions. It is to be able to see that these will inevitably show up constantly like waves in the ocean. We have to decide what direction we want to go, where we want to be, and work toward it. That is the way to succeed as a person and to heal ourselves.
One of the first steps that I had to take in my healing journey was to learn to practice everyday introspection. I needed to examine myself to understand where my emotions were coming from. Did something trigger it- a person, an event, or a series of events that piled up?
Once you find the emotional trigger, you have to examine your role in it. Ask yourself: What did I do that may have contributed to this? What didn’t I do? You can use those answers to be proactive and make the changes that can help you avoid difficulties and upheaval in the future.
It’s important to consider that sometimes the feelings that come aren’t real. What I mean is that they come from an invalid source. It could be a limiting belief that isn’t really true or relevant to your current reality. It could be something that was triggered from your subconscious because of an event you don’t remember—perhaps from childhood trauma.
Recognizing that can make it easier to sit with those feelings. The feelings are real in that you feel them, and you honor that by sitting with them, examining them, and then releasing them so that they don’t return.
The second step is to stop blaming. Sometimes we feel powerless and blame other people or things for what is happening to us. But blaming is really a defense mechanism, and sometimes we aren’t aware we’re doing it. Blaming just keeps us hostage in a story we tell ourselves to justify where we are (I call it denial-land). You have to own your actions and reactions and work to manage them or change them for the better.
The third step is to be honest. At the end of the day, you have to live with yourself, so it doesn’t matter what others think but what you think of yourself. Are you happy with yourself? Do you love and accept yourself unconditionally?
You have to find what is it that you are doing that is getting in the way of what you want. What behaviors and actions do you have that don’t match where you want to be? Journaling can really help as you try to spot anything that you are doing that you might not be aware of that is sabotaging you and getting in the way.
Because you can’t change what you aren’t aware of.
Once you bring to light what those things are, you can work to change them and thus change the results you are getting in your life. True introspection requires honesty. This allows us to avoid making up stories in our head to justify where we are. Sometimes that is all it is a story.
The last step is to take proactive steps towards where you want to be, even if it is through baby steps. I know that sometimes with emotions we feel overwhelmed because they feel like they are never going to go away. Be assured that it even though it feels like that, it really is going to go away.
What you can do is have a plan in place for the gloomy days. As you may have heard, one definition of madness is expecting different results when doing the same things. That won’t take you anywhere. Take baby steps and know that they do add up. Eventually, you will no longer be carried away with your emotions. You will have control and no longer be a “passions’ slave” like Daniel Goldman talks about in his book Emotional Intelligence.
As we examine ourselves and our feelings and take the steps to get through them and manage them, it is important to practice these key things:
When we have emotional pain we want to sit with it and honor it. We don’t want to dwell on it but we do want to sit with it until it passes. Trying to ignore it or cover it with positivism doesn’t work because we are only adding a layer on an underlying feeling, and it is only going to push it to the unconscious which will make it manifest more.
Sitting with your emotions can be challenging, especially when they show up out of nowhere. They can be a little overwhelming, but you can help yourself through this by learning the art of self-soothing and by having compassion for yourself. This might be challenging if this is the first time you hear it but you deserve it.
Sometimes we just want to vent what we are feeling, but that just gives the emotional pain more power over us. It just makes it bigger, prolongs it, and provokes it. There is a Tibetan saying: Don’t suppress it but don’t act on it. Use compassion and good coping skills to work through these things. There are many coping skills and self-soothing techniques you can learn:
- Learn EFT and cognitive therapies like CBT, DBT, ACT, NLP, etc which I teach
- Practice grounding which is focusing on the present moment. Go out in nature or use aromatherapy oils to bring nature to you. Take a walk or sit in the grass.
- Self-sooth by wrapping yourself in a warm blanket and enjoying a warm cup of tea, aromatherapy, soothing music, etc.
- Journal to express yourself and your feelings. Then you can check back on what you’ve written to better understand yourself and what happened. Was it a valid feeling or were you operating from your emotional mind?
- Practice meditation to focus on the present moment. You can learn not to accept every automatic thought. You can become more aware of your thoughts and feelings and accept them.
Be aware of your feelings when they occur. Learn to observe them as if you were outside of yourself—in third person observation—so you don’t automatically accept them but you give yourself a pause to do self analysis. The practice of detachment will allow you to observe and not be automatically swept by the emotional pain you are feeling.
Freud called it ‘awareness with impartiality’. You are observing what is happening rather than being immersed in it and being overwhelmed till you get lost in it.
You must also practice paying attention to your internal states—listening to your gut and your thoughts—while remembering that you don’t have to accept all of them as true. As you learn to observe and master your emotions, you are building what Daniel Goldman calls mental competency. That is the first step to gaining control of ourselves and our lives, and nothing will change until we have this self-awareness.
Once you do, you will stop being your passions’ slave. Understanding yourself is what will set you free. You will be able to predict your patterns and spot the things that you are doing and are not working. You can sit with emotions and soothe yourself through them instead of criticizing or judging yourself for having them.
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