In all my years of working with emotions and stress, this last year has been the most bizarre. However, no matter how strange the circumstances or how unnerving our experiences, we are still the same human beings with the same brains and biology, and the importance of understanding and managing our own emotions remains unchanged.
In the first lockdown I created a video of ten tips for dealing with anxiety, fear, overwhelm and other stress-producing emotions. As vaccine roll-outs and numbers going down create a light of hope, our emotions are no longer as fear-driven. However, after experiencing such a disturbing and for many, traumatic year, our resilience has been sorely tested and our emotions are just as, if not more stress-producing. So, the tips apply equally; they are all practical and they work. The video is still available on my Youtube channel here.
Regardless of which unpleasant emotions you may have felt or be feeling, consider changing your view of those emotions as negative, instead letting go of any judgment of your emotions.
To help with this, here are some statements to ponder and even apply, and for some, a few reminders to help you and your loved ones emotionally with the next months of 2021 – whatever those months may bring!
‘Negative’ Feelings Don’t Exist
Actually, there are no ‘negative’ emotions, because all emotions are ‘messages’ and meant to serve a purpose. Your fears and negative conditioning (from the past and often from childhood) are what judge your feelings as negative or unwanted. Whenever this occurs, you can feel disconnected and disempowered,
Through becoming open to exploring and understanding another view of your emotions, you can recognize how each “negative” feeling you experience is actually giving you information that’s meant to inform and guide you, often to make a change or to tune into someone else’s perspective.
Let Go and BE with Your Feelings
A typical way most of us try to deal with our negative emotions is to resist them - try to control, rise above, ignore, or somehow free ourselves from them- all of which are actually dissociating actions.
While it is natural to want to distance ourselves from what we don’t like, when we do, we also disconnect from the self-criticism or shame we subconsciously may feel about ourselves, which then leads us to begin justifying why we feel the way we do, including blaming others or external circumstances. Ironically, this will keep us increasingly attached to the painful emotion and can create an endless loop of distress.
You Can Choose What You Feel
However, once you identify and name what you feel, you can instead make the choice to breathe with it and allow the anxious ‘voice’ of that negative emotion to fully surface Then write it all down. By writing down the emotion messages, your inner critic will ‘feel heard’, which means the mental chatter will dramatically reduce and may even dissolve completely.
Listen to the Wisdom of Your Uncomfortable Feeling
Once you have allowed the unpleasant mental chatter to feel heard, your innate wisdom will have the chance to surface. Shift your focus to your heart area and breathe slowly, lengthening the exhale. Ask yourself: What does my inner wisdom want to say? What is my emotion trying to show me? Whatever comes to you, write it down. It may be something you can act on – in which case, do!
No Lockdown on Connection!
Moving through your own emotions in this way, makes it easier to reach out to others, (through whatever means you have in these strange times!), and there is no lockdown on emotional connection with others!
A silver lining that seems to have appeared from the gloominess of this pandemic, at least for many of my clients and I’m sure others, is an improved ‘work-life balance’ as many are spending less time working and travelling, and more time with family or finding ways to ‘connect’ (flowers, phone calls, even letter writing!)
Connecting with other people, -whether on screen with friends or loved ones, or just a smile with your eyes to the postman-, is one of the most important, healing, and helpful application of emotional mastery. From a neuroscience perspective, connecting with others (even just in a phone call) will release the neuropeptide oxytocin, also known as the ‘bonding hormone’. This downregulates feelings of distress even in ‘micro-moments’ of connection. Since our emotional health and ability to manage all the current stress is irrevocably linked to our immune system and ability to fight disease, …. well, enough said!
Stay safe and well – and may your connections become easier and easier!