We often divide our emotions up into positive and negative. There’s a fairly good consensus on where most feelings we experience lie. But what happens when we few emotions in this binary way? What do we perhaps miss? Can we reframe the way we think about emotions to realise, there are no negative ones. Rather, they are neutral. Whilst we may experience them in a good or bad way. Some causing us pain and others joy. Some feeling satisfying or light and others uncomfortable and heavy. That’s only our perception of them and not actually there defining point.
For How to Acknowledge the Positives When They’re Harder to See read here.
Why No Negatives
We are entitled to describe our feelings however we like. And no-one should be able to disagree with our direct experiences. It’s likely that we may have different perspectives from others on the same events. And different emotions associated with them. But, at root, these emotions aren’t good or bad. Even if we perceive them that way. Rather, we need to view all feelings for what they are, communication. They tells us something important about the environment or situation that we are in. If we’re cognizant of it, they tell us vital information. And can be harnessed as such. If we’re listening.
Put Emotions to Work
We can make our emotions work for us by giving them space. The ones we view or experience as negative are particularly important. When we experience them it’s a sign of something that we don’t want to tolerate. Whilst in some situations we don’t have full control. In the one’s that we do, we can use the signals that these emotions give us as a catalyst for change. By playing detective (more on that later) we can enquire further. Narrowing down the exact nature of our experience which is causing us pain, discomfort, frustration, sadness, anger; the list goes on. Once we’ve know the root reason, we can take action to change. Meanwhile, those feelings we experience positively can be traced back similarly. And then we can take steps to maximize those experiences or situations. Perhaps including them in our self-care routine.
For Why and When Do We Cry read here.
How to Manage Emotions
Follow That Feeling!
When we experience inconvenient or uncomfortable emotions. How can we try and view them as the communication they are? And how can we feel more at home with them? Firstly, when we experience certain emotions, try to get to the root of them. What is causing them? Perhaps someone has said something or we’ve received a text or email that’s made us feel that way. Maybe it’s the accumulation of many pressures on a time. Or something going wrong. Our feelings in that moment may be an indication that our boundaries have been pushed. Has someone spoken to us in a way we are not comfortable with? Do we feel unable to cope with the situation we are in? Or are, perhaps, aware that we are partly in error?
Whatever the situation may be. What can we learn? Do we need to advocate for ourselves? Letting people know the way we wish to be spoken to. Or do we need to take some space from this person or situation completely? Have we found ourselves in a position in which we are uncomfortable or exceeds our capacity to cope? Can we delegate and reach out for some support? Our emotions may be indicating that we need some time to ourselves. Feelings of stress, burnout, anger, frustration etc. can be a sign to check in with our mental health. And practise self-care. We need to understand our emotions, whilst sometimes unpleasant or even unbearable, as a communication and catalyst for change.
For 4 Ways to Check In with Your Mental Health read here
Taking a Step Back
There may be times that we find it hard to understand our emotions. And playing detective, by understanding the message, might be a step too far. At these times, we may wish to get some space from our feelings. Choosing to examine them at a later date. And, if the message isn’t clear, asking ourselves some questions. Have I felt this way before? What situation was I in or who was I with? Is it related to my work, social or home life? These questions may help us narrow down the root of our feelings and help us understand better.
But, this can only be done when the time is right. So, if this feels a step too far. Take a step back instead. Ask ourselves, how can I diffuse some of this feeling? We may find this by exercising which can help change our mood. Or by achieving something that boosts our confidence or helps us feel accomplished. A creative pursuit such as art, music or writing can help us channel these feelings differently. And, of course, talking to someone we trust can help not only process but give us perspective.
We may also find distraction helpful in the short term. What activity can take your mind off how you a feeling? Something where you enter a state of flow may be helpful. We can think of flow as a state of timeless. When we literally lose track. I tend to enter this state when reading a really good book. The sort I can’t put down. Or when I’m doing a puzzle. Others may find it by following a recipe, spending time with others or watching a great movie. Whatever it is, if it helps create some distance and relax away from your feelings. Then follow that instinct. Your feelings will be waiting for you, when you’re ready.
What are your experiences of emotions? Do you find them positive and negative? Or do you believe they can be neutral? What helps you manage your feelings when times are tough? As always, let us know below.