Is now a good time to talk?

With physical distance being an essential part of life these days, emotional connection is beginning to appear just as important. The world and its people are feeling things we’ve never felt and battling what it means to be emotional. So, now seems like the perfect time to talk.

What are emotions, exactly?

Emotions are our body’s natural response to stimuli. They are primal and instinctual. They exist in order to send you messages, feelings. Although it may not always seem that way, feelings are on your team. They are waiting in your corner ready to keep you informed and safe. Imagine: You’re in the woods and come across a bear. Boom. Instinctually your emotions kick in. You feel scared and run. This situation highlights the important role fear plays in letting you know when it’s time to protect yourself. In order for feelings to work for you, they have to be felt (not just the good ones) … more on that later.

So, what’s important to know?

  • Everyone has the same general capacity for emotion. Unless diagnosed with something that says otherwise, we all experience pleasant and unpleasant feelings, and both are completely normal.
  • There are no “bad” emotions. Somewhere in time a message was sent out saying that any feelings other than the “positive” ones are bad. This isn’t the truth. In fact, this belief increases the frequency of “bad” feelings, because you don’t just feel them you end up judging yourself for it.Yes, there are feelings that are more unpleasant and harder to endure. But, during a time when you need support, calling an emotion bad is unnecessarily harsh.
  • Emotions can bring you more closely connected to yourself. I was once told that emotions are like directions on a compass; if you read them, they can tell you where to go. Feelings let you know what you like and what you don’t. They tell you what you need and what you are longing to pursue. Without reflecting on your feelings, you miss out on so many opportunities to learn about you and to give yourself what you need.

Imagine: You’re feeling down. We all know that feeling.

You ask yourself: What’s causing me to feel down? Possible answer: I think it’s because I’m feeling lonely. Now you have a direction. You can start taking steps towards feeling more connected. i.e. calling or going to visit a friend.

No feeling lasts forever. Because feelings are instinctual responses, they will change as all things do. There are some exceptions to this rule, but this usually reflects a feeling about a specific situation. An example of this is the loss of a loved one. When we lose someone, it’s sad. This doesn’t all of a sudden stop being sad, but the sadness will change.

So, how do you manage emotions in a healthy way?

  1. Notice when a feeling starts to surface.
  2. Name the feeling. Be as specific as possible.
  3. Identify if it’s a problem and if it’s solvable or not.
    • If yes, begin identifying small steps to solve the problem.
    • If not, give yourself space to feel. If you don’t have space right now, you can schedule some time later to feel (yes, schedule if you have to). During your time, be easy on yourself. Be present without judgement.
  4. Take a breath or two and begin the new moment.

I’ve found that what often causes people the most stress is how they judge themselves for having certain emotions. It can completely shift the attention away from the cause of emotion and we lose the opportunity to problem solve or seek support. Other people just like you have been trying to figure out feelings since the beginning of time. The most important thing I can tell you is this: being emotional and having feelings shows us we’re human. We’re all in this together.