We Are Our Emotions
Feeling overwhelmed by a breakup? Can’t stop crying? The more you try to put it out of your head, the worse it gets. You’re hurting, and you don’t know how to stop it. What you’re feeling is quite natural. We all hurt.
The range of emotions – love, anger, hatred, fear, jealousy, sadness, loneliness, surprise and more – are all normal. The ones that make us feel good are not the ones we worry about. It’s the ones that trouble us. Because of the pain we feel, we often try to suppress these emotions. However, the more we suppress emotions, or tell ourselves they don’t matter, the more we will hurt.
If an emotion troubles us, the first reaction may be to ignore it or pretend it isn’t there. For example, if we like someone, and they don’t reciprocate, we’ll sometimes pretend we don’t care. If we are jealous of a friend, partner or a person or situation in which we are not getting the attention we feel we deserve, we suffer. We hurt. We pretend it doesn’t matter. But it does. And by not addressing the hurt, we allow it to build up.
The emotion we know well is anger. Everyone gets angry. Anger by itself is not a bad emotion. It can motivate us to act. But action which turns to violence of any kind – physical or emotional - needs rethinking. Acting out of anger affects many parts of our life and can be very destructive. I will be doing a separate blog on anger because it deserves it.
How to deal with our emotions?
A useful practice is to sit or lie down in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and put your hands six inches above your navel, on your solar plexus (the seat of our emotions). Breathe in and out deeply. After a minute or so of this deep breathing, continue to breathe normally, and start by acknowledging the emotion. Name it. Say to yourself: I am feeling jealous. Bring to your mind the scenario that makes you feel this way. Revisit it. Ask yourself: do I really have a reason to be jealous? Am I not getting the attention I feel I need? Get in touch with that feeling. What is your earliest memory of feeling this way? Slowly let the emotions go. The breathing will calm you.
It’s important to remember that you will not always feel this way. Anger, sadness, grief, all pass. You will feel better, but only if you acknowledge it and in a deliberate way allow it to pass.
Many of the emotions we cannot handle are really triggers for what has happened in our past. As children, parents cannot fully understand what we want and need. We feel hurt and neglected. Our basic needs of food, home, etc might be well taken care of, but we may feel misunderstood and unloved. Parents, not knowing better, punish children and often withdraw love. This is hardest for a child.
Parents often come from homes where their emotional needs have not been met. How, then, can they meet their children’s emotional needs? As adults, it then becomes our responsibility to understand the nature of our emotions and to embrace them. You can too.