“Emotions are the language of the soul.”~ Karla McLaren
The dictionary definition describes emotions as strong feelings deriving from one’s circumstances, mood or relationships.
Emotions are a big element of one’s being and can be tricky to handle and express when feeling overwhelmed or stressed.
In these intensified conditions, people tend to either repress or over-express their feelings.
In order to regulate your emotions better, try to consciously manage them so that your outward behavior is less reactive and more responsive.
The best way to do this is to first identify what they are. Are you feeling angry, sad, happy, frustrated?
Then ask yourself what you are really feeling! Sometimes one feeling can “mask” another.
In other words, anger is a typical “top layer” emotion. If you are angry about how slow the traffic is flowing on your way to work one morning, your “deeper layer” feeling may be anxiety.
You could be unconscious of the fact that you actually feel tense and worried about getting to an important meeting on time.
And maybe an even deeper layer is fear. Fear that you will be judged and potentially fired (if, say, you have repeatedly been late to meetings).
The more you are able to tune in and notice your emotions, the more conscious you will be of your inner world – of what you are struggling with and/or trying to process.
With this increased self-awareness, you will be better equipped to translate your emotions into appropriate actions and verbal expressions.
Note: Ellen Evans is a professional Psychotherapist with 10+ years of experience in counseling.
If you feel emotionally stuck or have difficulty expressing your feelings to others, it may be helpful to see a therapist who can support you to discover whatever blocks or issues stand in the way.
For example, perhaps your parents couldn’t handle outbursts when you were a child, and so you were taught to keep strong emotions under wraps.
A therapist will help you to see unhealthy patterns such as this and learn a healthier pattern of acknowledging, embracing, and communicating your feelings. You can read more about it here.
2. Take some time out to tune in
Learn meditative or mindfulness techniques that will encourage you to slow down, breathe, and become a witness to your feelings (rather than a victim).
“Mindfulness” essentially means the ability to be present and aware of yourself and your surroundings without becoming overwhelmed or reactive.
3. Physical exercise
Exercise, especially if you are feeling wound up, irritated, or stressed, exercise is a great way to release endorphins (stress-reducing hormones) so that you can return to a more balanced state of being in general.
4. Communication & Timing
Speak your feelings to a close friend, therapist, or to whomever you need to when the time is right.
Choosing an appropriate time is important – are you centered and calm enough to get your feelings across? Is the other person in a calm enough space to receive them?
5. Journal writing
Whether you like to write or not, writing down your feelings is a great way to get to the heart of things – literally so. Ask your heart what it is feeling and see how it responds on paper.
If this technique doesn’t appeal, then simply write down your thoughts and feelings without judging them.
Journaling is effectively a form of mindfulness, and you may be surprised at what arises.
You may also like to write a letter to whomever you wish in order to express yourself (you may decide to share the letter or not, depending on what is most helpful).
We sometimes don’t allow ourselves to acknowledge our deepest feelings, as they can be too painful. We can feel too exposed, too vulnerable.
Often, we protect ourselves by climbing straight into our minds and staying there! Yet, the key to a healthy emotional life is to remember the concept of “balance.”
When your heart, mind, and body are balanced and harmonized, you function much better as a whole person.
So, allow each level of your being to do its job. Also, allow each level to be nourished. Exercise regularly, sleep well and eat well enough.
“Feel” well. Tune into your feelings and embrace them for what they are.
“Think” well. Notice your thought patterns and take note of any limiting beliefs such as, “It is weak to cry,” or “I must think my way through this issue!”
Notice if any level is dominating. Are you numbing your feelings by eating too much? Are you overthinking?
And, are you exercising too much as a means to escape your emotions? What needs to happen to regain your balance?
“Our emotions need to be as educated as our intellect. It is important to know how to feel, how to respond, and how to let life in so that it can touch you (author unknown).”
When I came across this quote, I initially misread it. I thought it read, “how to get into life,” instead of “how to let life in.”
Yet both expressions make sense. It is useful to contemplate how emotions enable us to get into the grit of life – into its very heart.
Emotions are the way we most tenderly experience this world and ourselves.
They are gifts.
Primarily, the way to manage them well is to become a witness of them. Be present to your emotions – without judgment – and you will prevent yourself from falling into the trap of becoming them.
You are your emotions, certainly, but you are so much more. Embrace them, and let them inform you. If you let them steer you completely, they will likely wreck your life.
Everyone has a calm center point underneath the turbulent waves of temporary feelings.
See what helps you to get in touch with both your emotions and your calm center point within. Your relationship with yourself, as well as with others, will greatly benefit you!
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