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Feeling Negative Emotions?

Continuing on in the theme of slowing down I want to talk about slowing down emotions, both negative emotions and positive emotions.  How can one slow down emotions, you may ask?  And more importantly what would be the purpose?  Emotions are a gift we have that allow us to truly experience life in all it’s fullness.  So of course slowing down and enjoying the feeling of happiness when you see an old friend, the feeling of excitement in planning a vacation, the feeling of accomplishment in seeing a long-awaited goal come to fruition has obvious benefits.

But slowing down and feeling the negative emotions?  That seems crazy!  Why in the world would I want to slow down the feeling of rejection I feel over a job I didn’t get, the pain I feel over a broken relationship or the anger I feel over what someone else did to me?  How could THAT possibly be beneficial?  There is a saying, “What we submerge only gets bigger.”  When we race through these emotions of guilt, shame, embarrassment, grief, anger, disappointment, frustration, fear or any other negative emotion you can think of, you miss an opportunity.   What opportunity could there possibly be?!

When we slow down and allow ourselves to feel these emotions, it gives us the opportunity to deal with them now and release them.  If we don’t deal with them, if we sweep them under the rug, if we “put on our big boy pants” and ignore them, we are only going to find they magically…..get bigger!  There is a time, after we feel our pain, to look for the positives, see how we can accept responsibility for a situation and even make a plan to do things differently next time.  But we can’t skip over this first important step.   I love acronyms and I came up with one to help me remember the process of slowing down.

Write it down

S.- Sit with the emotions

L.- Let yourself feel them

O. – One By One

W.- Write them through to release

Are you feeling angry over an argument you had with your spouse? Don’t just forget about it.  Sit with it.  Ask yourself, “What exactly am I feeling right now?  Can I name the emotion?  Anger?  Fear?  Rejection?  Frustration?”  Make a list.  After you have done that, write down, “I am feeling angry because….”  and write whatever comes to mind.  Do that with each emotion.  If it is a minor upset, you may find that you only have to write about it one time and it will subside.  If it is anger that has been submerged for weeks, months or years, give it time.  You may find that you will need to write about the same thing, over and over, until you feel it lifting.  But, rest assured, there will come a time when you are writing about it and the pain will no long be there.  You may even say to yourself, “This is so dumb, why am I writing about this?” and laugh.  Then you know your freedom has come.

You may think this seems nonsensical, but it works.  This small exercise has huge rewards.  It is fundamental in the release of negative emotions. Don’t allow the resistance thought, “This isn’t for me,” trick you into not doing it.  Try it and see for yourself.   Start with something small to test the waters and see how this process can work for you.  Type an email to yourself and file it in a folder labeled “Thoughts”.  It doesn’t have to be a traditional journal.  If I can help you in any way, feel free to contact me at 239-777-3241.  I’d love to work with you.