In the previous post I listed some Don’ts when dealing with emotions. These include not suppressing or judging your negative emotions, taking unnecessary action, venting to anyone who will listen, and blaming the other person.
Here I will list a few Dos that help me to navigate the tricky waters of strong negative emotions.
DO talk to a close friend
When we are emotionally upset, we often don’t see clearly. We may blow words and actions out of proportion, refuse to see the good in a person or situation, and convince ourselves that our plight is worse than it actually is. We all have blind spots, and close friends are like mirrors that help us see ourselves and our situation more objectively. Venting also helps us to calm down and dissipate the raw strength of the emotions so that we can think more clearly again.
DO pour your emotions into a journal
While nothing substitutes a close friend, a journal has certain advantages. It will absorb all our emotions without getting tired, it is there for us any time of day or night, and can be referred to in future to see how much we have or have not grown. Strong emotions seem to have an energy of their own which can be safely expanded by writing as many pages as necessary until that energy is spent. It is the fastest way I know of transferring negative emotions out of my system into a safe receptacle.
DO sit still and let the emotions run through you
We humans have a great capacity to heal ourselves, and stillness and silence are great healers. Just as a cold will eventually pass if left to run its course because the physical body has its own immune system, our emotional afflictions will also pass if we allow the feelings to run their natural course. Just as the physical body needs lots of rest to fight an infection, our emotional self also needs rest to deal with emotions. When we stop the fretting and pacing and simply be still, healing begins.
DO observe each emotion without needing to act
Try to observe each emotion washing over you as a wave washes over a beach. The wave is not part of the beach, but is separate from it. Strong negative emotions too, are not who we are. Think of them as temporary visitors who will leave once their stay is done. This way of thinking helps us to detach from our emotions, and become a neutral observer. And as waves have their own natural rhythm and cannot be hurried or controlled, we too observe our emotions without trying to control or banish them.
DO give yourself time for healing to happen
Strong emotions may not go away after just one conversation with a friend, or one journal entry, or one quiet session in solitude while observing those emotions. Sometimes it takes a few sittings for the emotions to run their course. We need to be patient with ourselves and embrace nature’s timing and not try to fit healing into our busy schedules and give ourselves a deadline for feeing better.
DO celebrate when you’re done dealing with your emotions
In my experience it is very obvious when emotional healing is complete. When I was younger, I knew I was alright when I didn’t feel the strong urge to go running everyday anymore (running helped expand negative energy). Nowadays healing takes the form of a return of goodwill, often in a flood of strong positive emotions. For some people it may be waking up one morning and realising that you’re not angry or hurt anymore. Whatever the case, do celebrate by giving yourself a tangible treat. Celebrating the end of an emotionally traumatic period brings closure, so that we can move on in life with a light and happy heart.
This is Part 2 of a 2-part series:
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