Our emotions are always giving us information. They help us to inform decisions and are constantly providing us with what we need to know in order to survive. Our emotions can also be unfounded or reactive or out of control - making us feel like somewhat of a crazy person. Am I right?!
From an early age in school and at home we are taught basic skills such as how to tie our shoes and brush our teeth, but we are often lacking in our understanding of emotional management and regulation strategies, which is a skill we will use each and every day.
In our busy, technology connected yet socially and emotionally disconnected hustle vibes society, emotions are often brushed aside, not addressed or ignored. We are often taught that we shouldn't show emotions like anger and sadness and to pretend everything is A-OK all the time. Especially with social media constantly showing us other people's highlight reel - we can get caught up in thinking everyone else seems to be happy all the time - so what's wrong with me?
The truth is we need to feel and honor all of our emotions. If they aren't addressed or felt, they can built up inside of us, and over time can pile on and on and on until we inevitably reach a breaking point.
This is where a mindful practice comes into play. It teaches us how to dance with our emotions; to see and feel them and let them go when necessary.
Give these strategies a try to help surf those emotions waves instead of getting knocked over when the wave breaks.
Tools for Managing Emotions
1. Emotional layering: Tuning inward and identifying exactly what you are feeling in a given moment will help you understand where it is coming from, and how to move forward with the resolution. Let's say you are feeling uneasy about something. Close your eyes and place your hands on your heart and ask yourself 'what am I feeling right now?' See what comes up. Then ask yourself, what's below that. Continue until you think you've finally gotten to the root of the emotion. Often emotions are layered on top of each other so getting to the root will bring wonderful awareness.
2. Respond vs. React: We have all had those moments when something triggers us and we fly off the handle, jumping straight into frustration and or anger. Practice instead the art of responding. Taking in all the information about the situation as it is happening, process and pause and THEN respond instead of relying on that knee jerk reaction that can often escalate the situation even further. Having a regular mindfulness practice can help with this, I have been using this free app for daily meditation which has been really helpful.
3. Sit with your emotions: When those tricker emotions come up for you, try your best not to dismiss them before you have had a chance to fully acknowledge, understand and feel the emotion to the fullest. This may look like actually letting yourself cry when you are sad instead of swallowing back the tears, or releasing that pent up anger in a run or boxing class so it's not wreaking havoc in your body. Fully embracing your joy in high vibe moments like singing in the shower or smiling wide are great too!
4. Let it go: If emotions are like waves, then they are always coming and going. Emotions aren't meant to stay with us permanently so sometimes we need to allow ourselves to let go of what no longer is serving us and bring back the ease of the ebbs and flows of the waves. As weird as it sounds, holding negativity or being angry is almost like eating candy... it's addictive and once we let ourselves indulge, sometimes we want to stay in that state. Releasing when necessary is another helpful tool to support you in managing your emotions as they present themselves so they don't build up to the point of explosion.
Samara Zelniker is a yogi, wine drinker, pet lover and travel junkie.