Have you ever seen that poster of different emotions that kids are given in preschool so that they can better identify how they feel? I need that poster. Adults need that poster.
Recently I’ve acknowledged that I often get so overwhelmed with emotion that I’m not able to think clearly. I can’t always identify what is specifically bothering me or what I need. It has made me realize I want a better understanding of my emotions so that I can grow and not feel so overwhelmed or out-of-control so frequently. As stated in the last blog post, the good news for me, and you if you relate, is that this is something we can get better at. We just have to start paying better attention to ourselves.
First off, we have to start paying attention to what our bodies feel like when experiencing certain emotions. These are clues that something is coming up for us. For instance, when we don’t notice the tension in our jaw, or an increase in our pulse, we may say something we regret before we have even given our minds a second to process what’s actually going on for us. Getting to know how you experience certain emotions is a crucial part of this process. It’s a beacon signal telling us to slow down, and get all the facts first.
Anger and frustration can be all encompassing emotions that can fool you because they aren’t specific enough; they require a little more examination. They are much more complex than “I’m pissed off” or “soooo irritated.” You can be angry and also: sad, disappointed, scared, guilty, hurt, jealous, anxious, embarrassed, worried, etc. Growth happens when you can look beyond the obvious emotion and see what’s really happening with the hidden emotion. This is where the good stuff happens. This is where growth happens.
The next time you feel anger surface, make a point to put a pin in that moment and re-examine what was going on later, especially if right then is not the time to process it all. Now I know I’m a self-care nerd, but I want to get better, so this kind of homework excites me, because it means that a healthier me is on the horizon. I want the same for you.
Over the past month, I’ve started unpacking certain scenarios where my emotions surprised me and I’ve discovered so much more hidden beneath that initial reaction. By honestly exploring what was surfacing for me, I’ve been able to see some old wounds that have needed some healing. Some of the wounds are nearly on the mend and others need a little more TLC. But the good news is they are no longer festering in the form of reactionary anger.
Now full-disclosure, I am dealing with this through the help of a therapist, and my own self-reflection. I have realized that on my own, I didn’t have enough tools. So if you need more tools, and I encourage you to reach out to a professional and seek guidance. You’ve got this.
Take care of YOU.