You may have heard of the love languages. The idea came from a book by…
We live in an emoji filled world, using them to depict our feelings.
But how attune are you to what you are feeling and how well do you validate and express these feelings? It’s human nature to avoid unpleasant, uncomfortable things. Some emotions can be very uncomfortable to feel.
For some people, anger is the most difficult to allow, for others it’s anxiety. And some people try to avoid them all! Avoiding emotions is ultimately a losing battle. They will come out, one way or another and often the longer and harder we avoid the longer and harder they hit us.
How we respond to our emotions is greatly impacted by how the significant people in our lives responded to our emotions growing up. If our parents were not able to express and manage their own emotions, chances are they didn’t respond well to our feelings.
Kids often interpret this to mean their feelings are wrong or stupid. (It is never my goal to “blame the parents”, a therapy cliche, but usually nobody affects us more than our parents. In most cases, I do believe that parents do the best they can with what they know, but we do know a lot more now than our parents did about emotional health. The goal is understanding how our upbringing has impacted us.)
Journaling is a common suggestion in therapy to help a client express their feelings.
It is also a tool that a lot of people struggle with.
Ironically, what makes it difficult is also what makes it effective. One of my clients expressed this perfectly. She was talking about experiencing some painful emotions, I asked if she had been journaling recently. She responded that she had tried but felt it wasn’t working because she would get too upset. I explained to her that that meant it was working because it is a tool to get you in touch with your feelings and to release them. This can be uncomfortable to go through, but there is no healthy way around feelings, we must go through to heal and be healthy.
Here is the thing about emotions, they just need to be acknowledged, validated and expressed. The real suffering comes when we react negatively to these emotions. By minimizing them or not allowing them we can actually cause them to stick around longer.
There is a saying “what you resist, persists”.
This is applicable to our emotions. We may be able to avoid temporarily but at some point unexpressed emotions will affect us mentally, emotionally and/or physically. I am learning more and more about how our thoughts and emotions can affect our physical bodies. Learning to respond with compassion and not judgment to our emotions is crucial to our emotional, mental and physical health.
When you realize you wouldn’t respond to your child, friend or even a stranger’s emotions with the judgment and avoidance you do your own, you can begin to allow whatever you’re feeling with love and acceptance for yourself.
The way we have been conditioned to respond to our feelings doesn’t change over night and therapy can help you learn these new skills.
Please contact me to discuss how I can help you respond to your emotions in a more positive, helpful way.