How to Process Emotions

I am a human being, with feelings and emotions and scars and flaws, just like anyone else. - Josh Gordon

To hate or not to hate:

Did you know that it takes as little as 10 minutes to fully process an emotion? The first time I heard this, I thought it was freaking impossible. How could that be if I’d been carrying around the same emotions for years?!

And, then, I had a life-changing experience that proved it to be true.

One Christmas, I was decorating the tree when I received negative criticism from a family member. At that moment, I became so angry that I felt straight-up hate for this person. I’m all for constructive criticism, but criticism with the intent of making me feel small is not ok.

And, instead of beating myself about feeling hatred for this person, I allowed that hatred to just be. I even let it grow stronger. And, after about 7 minutes, the emotion was gone, and I was able to feel love again for my family.

Yup, that happened! So, lets go a little deeper:

One of my boundaries was disrespected by this family member. I allowed myself to feel how I felt because hate was the right emotion, given what had happened. I let the feeling grow until it was gone.

And this is the case for a vast majority of our emotions. Most of our emotions just want to be heard and understood.

And, emotions like anger are usually so difficult to change because we tend to feel guilty about having them in the first place. Society tells us that anger is dangerous and it leads to violence. But, that isn’t true. Unexpressed anger is dangerous. And, there are safe ways to process and express anger.

When “feeling your feelings” isn’t enough:

But what about the emotions that no matter how many times you’ve cried over the problem or how many times you’ve felt the anger, nothing’s changed?

This generally means that our emotions need action…change.

It’s usually a good idea to start by feeling your feelings. But, when something in your life requires change, you need to realize that “feeling your feelings” will only temporarily disarm your emotions. This is great because you need space and perspective to see things differently if you want to be free of your unpleasant emotions.

I recommend that you turn to your TRUSTED support circles. I’ve mentioned that these people could be: friends, family members, accountability buddies, spiritual leaders, therapists, counselors, advisors, god, nature, etc. Because you cannot solve a problem with the same thing(s) that created it. You need to untangle your thoughts, and you need a fresh perspective.

The bad news is that if you are not able to see things differently, you will likely be pulled back in the same emotional drama. This isn’t a punishment. This is an opportunity to repeat the lesson, and to truly grow from it.

Steps:

  1. Feel your feelings

    • Cry

    • Journal

    • Seek support

    • Meditate

    • Feel into the emotions and let them be

      NOTE: try not to numb or distract yourself if possible as numbing and distracting inadvertently work to keep your emotions “glued” to you

  2. Reflect

    • Did the feeling go away? (you’re done)

    • Is it still there? (dig deeper)

  3. Take action

    • Meditate and ask yourself what this emotion wants you to do

      • NOTE: you can only change yourself so hurting someone else emotionally or physically will most likely not solve your problem

    • Get clear

    • Seek support

    • Take action

      • What do you need to do to resolve this?

      • Who do you need to talk to?

      • Who do you need to forgive?

Phew, that was a lot! Are you able to see things differently? If not, that’s ok. Repeat the steps as often as you need.

And, maybe your intuition is guiding you to do something that is not covered here. That’s ok too! As always, my lists are not comprehensive. But, these ideas can give you a great place to start.

Final thoughts:

It can be so overwhelming when you’re processing emotions. Most of us process in mostly isolation and that can be harmful. So, I’ve written this to give you some direction.

I’ve had my fair share of people that give terrible advice like, “ it will get better!” These people are well-meaning, but sometimes perspective and/or action are/is needed before things get better.

Also, most people don’t want to admit that their life is less than perfect. Social media sites tend to be highlight reels of various life events. So, we don’t get to see the ugly parts of life. But, I want you to know that I’ve been there. I’ve been a hot mess more times than I can count. And, I was made better by my less than perfect experiences.

Lastly, I want you to know that you are not a bad person for FEELING anger, hatred, sadness, jealousy, etc. All humans feel these emotions at one point or another. But, its how we process our emotions that makes all the difference in the world.

Amor y canela

Monica