Part One – Expressing Emotion

I’m really excited to kick off this four-part article series on emotions! Read all four articles using the links below.

Part One: the importance of acknowledging and expressing for emotional healing, and how to express guilt, regret and shame.

Part Two: expressing sadness, anger and frustration.

Part Three: emotional health – what you can do to keep yourself balanced.

Part Four: emotion vs mood – long term considerations

Part One

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It’s really important that you allow yourself to actually feel your emotions. This begins with acknowledging that you feel a certain way – it’s doesn’t really matter why.

When you start to question why and whether it’s something worth feeling that emotion over, you call into question the validity of the emotion.

And the fact is – all emotions are valid!

 

Instead of resisting any emotion, the best way to dispel it is to enter it fully, embrace it and see through your resistance ~ Deepak Chopra

Emotions are neither positive or negative – they are simply an expression or an energy. When we perceive an emotion as negative, we tend to resist it, ignore it, suppress it. However, all emotions are valid and acceptable. They are apart of being human.

For a long time, I found a way of resisting the more uncomfortable feelings – sadness, pain, frustration, guilt, shame. I would sense a particular feeling was surfacing and felt extremely uncomfortable. So I suppressed the emotion by diving into food and exercise, which shortly turned into an eating disorder. Mind you, it was years later that I realised the eating disorder was very much around emotional resistance. I was convinced that I was simply just addicted to losing weight and had self-control issues as I struggled to resist “bad foods”.   (You can read more about my story here.)

However, now I’ve learned that once I acknowledge then express an emotion, I can release the grip it has over me.

Here are some common emotions which we resist and some suggestions for expression rather than suppression:

Guilt

This is a big one for me personally. I regularly struggle with guilt and it all comes down to the “I’m not good enough” thought pattern. I had to learn to know the difference between justifiable guilt and ridiculous guilt.  When I say ridiculous guilt, I mean the very regular and accusatory thought pattern. You know what I’m talking about – the “should have’s”. I should have worked harder, I shouldn’t have eaten that, I should have gone to the gym today, etc. When you are in “the guilt cycle”, it’s much more about negative thought patterns than actually an emotional issue. This is where mindfulness can help, as we learn to let go of the past and live in the present moment.

However, when you have realised that you have made a genuine mistake, hurt someone’s feelings or broken a promise, these may help you get back on track:

  • Acknowledge it and move on. Don’t dwell – it’s really a waste of energy.
  • Face up to it and apologise to the person you’ve hurt.
  • Do a good deed – you can’t change what you did in the past, but look for an opportunity to do the right thing and you’ll soon feel better.
  • Forgive yourself! This one is crucial – realise that you are allowed to make mistakes, and you will likely do so again in the future. Be kind to yourself.
Regret

Previously, I blamed myself for everything and would continually feel guilty about the past. However, I’ve learned so much on my journey, and I can’t punish myself today for mistakes I’ve made in the past – I didn’t have the same wisdom back then.

As human beings, we are doing the best we can in every single moment  – operating only on the knowledge we have in that moment. So again, forgive yourself and focus on the present.

Shame

Rather than attempt to discuss this complicated emotion, I’ll leave it for you to check out Brene Brown TedTalk on shame.

 

Be sure to keep an eye out for part two – expressing anger, sadness and frustration!

If you are still struggling with these emotions, I encourage you to speak with a counsellor or psychologist who can guide you through a healing process.

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