While we all know the benefits of being honest about our feelings and allowing them space, contrarily, we are hardwired to hide, deny and control our emotions instead. Processing your emotions can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be. With the advice from experts, you can learn to better process your emotions in 9 different ways.
Be Aware Of It, Pause, And Identify With Objectivity
The first step is to become aware that you’re experiencing a difficult emotion by noticing the physical aspects of it. This might sound straightforward, but many of us cope with difficult emotions by disconnecting ourselves from them through numbing, self-medicating, or ignoring them.
After you have that awareness, pause and identify the emotion. And, instead of turning away, turn towards it without judgment. Allow yourself to experience it with a sense of objectivity.
Instead of saying, “I feel angry,” for example, say, “I feel anger in my body.” This is a small shift, but it moves you from being in the mode of the one experiencing the emotion to the one observing it.
Address the Physical Manifestations of it, Then Process Them Through Breathing Exercises and Creativity
Having spent a lot of time on personal and emotional development, I would love to share the best ways I have found to feel and process my emotions. I have struggled a lot in the past with repressing my emotions, and the most effective way I have found to release them is to address the physical manifestations and tensions that they cause.
For example, I hold a huge amount of tension in my jaw to the extent that I have developed TMJ problems, but through treating and reducing the tension in my jaw, I have managed to get in touch with and actually experience my emotions rather than losing them into physical tension.
Then, to process these feelings, I use a combination of deep breathing techniques to regulate how I’m feeling and creativity through art and music-making to understand and express these emotions. While this process doesn’t necessarily make the experience of difficult emotions easier, it does mean I am experiencing a full spectrum of emotions and processing them in a much more healthy way.
Lily Hope, Artist Manager Polyphony Arts
I think the most important thing to understand when speaking about feelings and emotions is that they are two different things. When we can understand the difference, then we can find healthy ways to process the emotions and feelings we all experience daily.
Feelings are something you experience in your physical body. Feelings are sensations that arise within you in response to what is happening outside of you. Feeling your feelings is an awareness of something that is affecting you, either internally or externally. Some examples are the feeling of butterflies in your stomach, tears building up in your eyes, the tension in your head, or tightness in your shoulders. Emotions are your reactions to feelings.
You label the emotions as anger, joy, frustration, excitement, anticipation, fear, etc. You get into emotional trouble and become stuck, unable to process feelings because you develop stories about yourself and the world around you based on the emotional reactions, not the feelings which first began in the body.
Pause And Take A Breath-Do Not Label The Feeling. There Is Power In The Pause.
When you pause and take a breath, tune into your physical body and identify where in your body you are feeling your feelings. Acknowledge the experience of what is going on inside of you. You can say things to yourself like, “I have tightness in my chest right now or my throat hurts.” Once you acknowledge the feeling, start to breathe. Imagine breathing your breath into the part of your body which is experiencing the feeling.
Set A Timer For 60-90 Seconds
Research has shown that it only takes 60-90 seconds for uncomfortable/stressful feelings to pass through our bodies. Sit with your feet on the floor in a comfortable chair, place your hand on your heart and pay attention to the beat of your heart, and rise and fall of your chest as you breathe. Imagine breathing warm air into the part of your body that is feeling stress. When the timer goes off, you will feel relief and easily be able to move on with your day.