Learning to understand why you feel what you feel and how to positively address it.
“When our emotional health is in a bad state, so is our level of self-esteem. We have to slow down and deal with what is troubling us, so that we can enjoy the simple joy of being happy and at peace with ourselves.”
― Jess C. Scott
“Emotions are not problems to be solved. They are signals to be interpreted.”
― Vironika Tugaleva
So, we are a few days into 2018 and things are already in full swing – you’re back at work, the kids are back in school and the festivities of the Christmas season are a lovely but distant memory and with the rest of a new year looming ahead, you may find yourself both excited and anxious about what the new year holds. Personally, I am intrigued to see what 2018 has in store for me and as a rule, I have always looked forward to the start of a new year – especially now that I am an adult. I don’t know what it is about the start of the new year that always seems to excite me and make me happy – maybe, it’s the fact that each new year presents a fresh start. A brand new opportunity to start over, to leave the past in the past and to embrace the grab a hold of both the opportunities that the new year brings. Whatever the reason is, I am sure looking forward to what this new year brings, but as much as I am excited about this new chapter, I am also deeply aware that for a lot of people, each day in life represents a fresh set of challenges which have to be overcome. I know that sometimes when we are having a bad day, week or month, it can feel like we are starting to carry a heavy load on our shoulders – a load that only increases in weight as we start to feel worse and worse.
I have observed over time that one of the hardest things to do in life is to keep stable emotions when things go wrong. I mean, maybe it’s just me, but I have noticed that when things go wrong in my life, it has a direct and powerful link to my emotional wellbeing. A trying situation can sometimes find me being more irritable than usual, more emotional than usual and sometimes when I feel pushed to my limits, I find myself asking God the “Why me?” question. In those moments of deep pain and despair, my mind tends to lean towards scathing cynicism while my heart struggles to keep afloat in the raging storms of my emotions.
Is it just me or can you identify with the feeling?
The worst part of it for me is that for reasons that are still a mystery to me, I have always felt like when I am struggling with things on an emotional level then I need to keep that battle hush-hush and under wraps. No one needs to know what I am going through and I dread making myself vulnerable enough to confide in someone that I am not doing OK even though I look OK. I would rather portray myself as a strong woman and feign “having it all together” rather than acknowledge and accept a simple but powerful truth – I am a fallible human being.
Is it just me or can you identify with the feeling?
Instead of allowing others to be strong for us when we need someone to lean on, we would rather live in a lonely masquerade so long as we are perceived to have it all under control. But here’s the thing, living this lie takes a brutal toll – emotionally, spiritually and sometimes even physically. Living under the weight of self-imposed perfection can steal your joy and throw your emotional wellbeing out of the window and cast dark shadows on how you view the world and affect your ability to make it through the day. From your first daily interaction until the very last, you will be caught in the struggle of having to balance your raging and tumultuous private thoughts and emotions while trying to make life easier for the people you’re communicating with. Over time, keeping up this dual lifestyle can result in you finding it incredibly hard to focus on yourself and your problems.
So, what’s a girl to do? Well, here’s the thing: everyone has something in life which worries or stresses them out. We all have issues and baggage that we need to address in our lives if we want to live more contented lives. There comes a time in life when you need to stop making excuses and stop running from your issues and when you have to choose to be brave enough to acknowledge and deal with your emotional life so that you can find healing and wholeness. So, to help you out, in this post, I will be exploring some of the crucial elements we all need to address in the process of dealing with our emotional baggage. Now, if you are at all familiar with me and with my work, then you will know that I never walk to talk at you as if I have all of the answers or anything like that. I am no expert, nor do I have it all together, but I do just want to share with you some tips that I have found to be useful in my life that I think you may benefit from as well as your journey through your own emotional mindfield.
With that said, let’s dive right in
1.The Techniques You Learn: Have you heard the saying, “you cannot control what happens to you, but you can control how you choose to respond to it?’” Well, if you haven’t then allow me to not only be the first to introduce it to you but to also share with you why I find this saying so powerful. If you have been alive for any given period of time, it really won’t take you long to figure out that life is far from fair. Bad things happen to good people; things don’t always go as planned and sometimes, the people that we chose to call our friends betray us. In this life, it is a given that things will go wrong and when they do, it tends to take its toll on us. One of the most frustrating things I think any person can experience is the feeling of being incapable of doing anything in the face of things going wrong. That feeling of helplessness can cause us to feel even more distraught and if we are not careful, we can get caught up in a whirlwind of emotions that leave us feeling drained and empty inside.
As hard as it is to go through something like that, I have found that in my own life, one thing that helps to make difficult times a little bit more bearable is choosing to accept that all I can do in light of difficult situations to accept the reality that is staring me in the face and instead trying to calm the storms that rage outside of me, I can work at trying to calm the storms that rage inside of me. That is the key! Now, I am not saying that it is an easy thing to do, but I am saying that I think that this is the first important and crucial step in the long journey of learning to control your emotions. Learning not to live at the whim of your every emotion is a difficult but worthwhile undertaking that greatly involves learning to change the way you think about your thoughts – at least, this has been the case for me. I am learning that paying attention to my thought life and taking the time to think about what I think about does wonders in helping me keep my mind right and my emotions under control. I am not talking about becoming an obsessive over-thinker but rather, I am talking about being mindful of what you let your thoughts dwell on. Not everything deserves that mental energy that you expend on it.
A lot of people ignore the reasons for their feelings, instead choosing to act on impulse, following what their heart tells them. This sort of approach may make it easier to embrace your emotions, but it will also make it harder to look at them objectively. Whenever you feel something negative, it’s always worth looking for ways to understand why you feel the way you do. As you take the time to reflect on why you are feeling the way that you do, perhaps you may come to realise that you may be over-reacting or that you simply misunderstood something. What I am ultimately trying to say is that slowing down to assess your emotions often leads to gaining insight into yourself and helps makes you a more self-aware person, which is always a great thing.
Now, I do want to make a note here and say while I have spoken being mindful of your thought life, I do want to say that I am aware of the fact that sometimes, it can be incredibly hard for an individual to think straight due to mental illnesses. Illnesses like depression, anxiety, being bipolar and a whole host of others can greatly impair a person’s ability to be able to reason as they normally should. In this case, I advise seeking the help of a trained professional who can help you with what you are going through. Mental illness is a real thing that has to be dealt with so if you or someone you love are dealing with a mental health issue, please, I implore you from the bottom of my heart to seek help and begin walking the road to healing because you do not have to suffer alone!
2.The Time You Spend: You know how people like to say, “time heals all wounds”… Well, I am of the opinion that times heals all wounds depending on how you choose to view and use that time, and this is what I mean when I say that. Time is a very precious commodity and it is also a huge part of this process, so when you are embarking on the journey to learning to control your emotions, you will have to be very patient with yourself as this will take time. It takes a long time to be able to consistently live mindfully because learning to live mindfully of yourself and of others is something that you will find takes time, effort, energy and intentionality. There are no shortcuts on this journey and the results may take a long time in coming. It is not easy to build this new habit and the truth is, you may be tempted to give up after a while – especially if you are feeling frustrated because you feel like you aren’t getting any quick results. My advice to you is to hang in there and to keep persevering! Building good habits will take a lot of dedication and a lot of hard work, but you will see the fruits in due time if you choose to put in the work. You have to keep making a conscious effort to understand and control the emotions which are hurting you the most if you are ever to move to a place of emotional wellbeing.
If unforgiveness is something that is holding you back in your life, forgive, learn from the mistake (whether it’s your own or another person’s) and move on wiser and stronger from it.
If it’s anger, learn to find other ways of coping with what you feel rather than just venting what you feel with little concern for who you hurt in your rage.
Ultimately, what I am trying to say here is take the time to assess why it is that you’re feeling a certain way rather than just giving in blindly to your emotions because the more time you spend on your emotions, the better you will be able to feel (and cope!), and this can have appositively profound impact throughout your entire life.
3. Avoiding Escapism: When you’re battling tough emotions, it can often feel like hiding away from them is the very best option you have and for a long time, I used escapism as an unhealthy coping mechanism so that I could ignore deep pain rather than try to find healing from them. I know something of what it’s like to feel pain so deep and emotions so strong that they threaten to overwhelm you, and I understand why rather than dealing with those tumultuous emotions, one would rather seek escapism in its various forms – be it cutting one’s self, losing yourself in fantasy, taking drugs, procrastinating or any other form of escapism that you can think of. I get the appeal. But, here’s the thing, escapism is not really the ally you think it may be. Yes, it may provide you with some kind of temporary relief but in reality, escapism will only make your situation worse. I have found that it makes a person almost incapable of being able to face their issues head-on. It makes you feel like your problems to big to be solved and too overwhelming and daunting to be faced and all you can do in light of it is cower in fear and escape. Now, please don’t hear what I am not saying. I am not saying that you should avoid doing the things you enjoy as a way of relaxing and putting your cares from your mind for a while. Everyone needs some rest and relaxation and some “down time” and some escape. But, while this is this case, what I am saying is that you should avoid hiding from your feelings, as they are very important to you as a person. Feeling emotions is not the enemy but it’s how you handle what you feel that makes a huge impact on your emotional wellbeing.
4. The Power Of Support: It has been said that no (wo)man is an island and that saying is so, so true! Most (if not all) people can’t go it alone when they’re facing their own emotional minefield. Instead, you should be looking for support wherever you can, from the people around you to professionals in the field. A lot of people find faith-based options, like Christian counseling, to be some of the most useful, as these options are designed to lock into the things you already believe. When you’re looking for someone to help you like this, you should always make sure to read plenty of reviews to get an idea of the past success.
Hopefully, this post will make it much easier to see an end to the emotional trauma in your life. No one has an easy time of keeping their feelings in order, with some finding it much more challenging than others but I will say that choosing to work on your emotions is amazing long-term benefits that not only change your life but also the life of those who are close to you! So, as challenging as this journey will sometimes be, the rewards will be worth it in the end!