Emotions are hard! They are supposed to be these helpful gauges that inform us of what we are experiencing, help us know how to react, and aid us in adapting to the challenges of daily life. However, it seems as if emotions are doing the opposite of their job. So much so, that we are often left asking the questions of “What is going on with me?” and “Why do I feel out of control and overwhelmed?” This sense of being out of control and overwhelmed is the result of our emotions influencing our thoughts and behavior.
Emotions can get confusing. Without the ability to curb and limit them, they can feel as if they are coming, going, and running amuck. This leaves us internally disheveled and makes it challenging to fully understand what is going on inside.
Without this understanding, becoming overwhelmed is inevitable. The overwhelm sensation arrives when stressors are high and the capacity to handle the stressors are low. Its important to develop a greater capacity. There Is Hope. There are coping skills and steps that can be used to calm you and provide relief in those emotionally overwhelming moments.
Here are some steps that can help increase your capacity for dealing with emotional stressors:
- Recognize: Acknowledge that something is going on within you. Recognize that you are in an overwhelming moment. This allows for action to take place. Without knowing there is a problem, how can you fix it? Ignoring the problem allows for it to grow and continue.
- Accept: Accept that you are feeling this way. “Right now, I’m feeling angry because this driver cut me off and that’s okay.” Telling yourself that you shouldn’t feel the emotion or rejecting the emotion creates a disconnect and permits the emotion to manifest in actions and thoughts. For instance, now the cat is being kicked and you’re thinking everyone can’t drive because the driver cut you off.
- Observe: See your emotions from a distance. Take the time to look at your actions, thoughts, and physical sensations (shaking, sweating, crying, biting fingernails, etc.) to help you identify the emotion. This distance allows one to see that these are characteristics of the emotion and not you. This makes it less challenging to recognize and accept the emotion in the future.
- Release: It’s time to let it go. Emotions can fluctuate second by second, minute by minute, and hour by hour. Holding on to one emotion gives it more power and control over your thoughts and actions than it deserves. Releasing can be any form of an outward expression. For example, writing, exercise, singing, dancing, cry, and cooking can all be ways of clearing the mind and releasing the emotion.
Releasing the emotion is the last step. It’s important to process and work through it before letting it go. Holding on to the emotion after the processing can become counterintuitive. It creates a higher chance of becoming overwhelmed.
Remember, these steps will take practice. Its helpful to give yourself sometime to lean and practice this method of dealing with those emotionally overwhelming moments. Practicing this with little emotional moments can be great in increasing your capacity.
Start Where You Are
Use What You Have
Do What You Can