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5 ways to process all of the feels

Emotions control our thoughts, behaviors and actions. We live in a society where negative emotions are perceived as “bad”. Well let me tell you a little somethin’ that I’ve learned about feelings: just because something is negative, doesn’t mean that there’s an element of wrongness.  a human has both positive emotions and negative emotions that work together as a unit to create balance in the mind. It’s like yin and yang, yo.  It’s what we do with them that matters most.

I grew up being parented by a generation who believed that was wrong to be sad, angry or afraid. From a young age, I was taught to push aside my biological instincts and act as though everything was fine.

Whenever one of these emotions came up I bottled them up and pushed them aside rather than face them head on and learn how to process them.  The more I suppressed emotions the more difficult I found to process them in a healthy way when I got older, especially when I was stressed out. I processed stressful times via destructive behaviors which fueled my insecurity, emotional eating, wreckless behavior, dumb decisions, and attention seeking in my young adult days.

It took me a long time, numerous failed relationships and a lot of really stupid decisions before I finally realized that being scared and vulnerable is okay. Being angry is okay. Being sad….is completely OKAY. Holding onto these negative emotions without processing them for a long period of time, however, is NOT OKAY.

Negative emotions are a form of stress.  Even though they can be present in a variety of forms, these emotions yield similar results. Stress is extremely important in our survival because it generates the fight or flight reaction, but chronic stress can actually take years off our lives. Living in a constant state of negative feelings including depression or fear can inhibit our ability to experience positive emotions like happiness and love. And plenty of scientific evidence points to the conclusions that happy people are healthy people, and healthier people live longer.

Suppressing emotions can be toxic to our minds and can poison our relationships with other people. These emotions have the potential to put up walls and suppress the ability to connect with another person’s heart and soul. Though not the only factor, this constant suppression of negative emotions can also lead to a life of mental illness. Like many illnesses and health conditions, however, there are many preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of mental instability and disease.

Painful experiences are a part of life. We have ALL had them. Some worse than others but we all can relate to what pain, anger, fear and sadness feels like. The only way we can truly appreciate happiness and love is to get through these emotions in a healthy way. Good and bad.  Negative and positive.

If I did a sufficient job at convincing you that negative emotions are normal, and that processing these emotions is imperative for healthy relationships with yourself and with others, then here’s a list of tips on HOW to actually begin process them.

1.) GET IT OUT.

Due to past experiences and unique characteristics, everyone processes emotions differently. The best way to process emotions is to get them out in whatever way feels most comfortable to you. Talk to someone about it, write in a journal, draw a picture or compose a song. Whatever you do, don’t bottle those emotions up and let them suck the life out of you.

2.) IMPROVE YOUR E.Q.

The emotional quotient (EQ) is the level of emotional intelligence an individual has. Emotional intelligence is the ability to monitor, identify and process your own emotions, and then have enough awareness to express them through behavior and actions in a healthy way. Improving your emotional intelligence requires tapping into our intuition to understand what our mind is really experiencing. Those individuals who properly identify, process and control negative emotions are less stressed overall and are able to remain calm in stressful situations.

3.) FORGIVE AND LEARN

Love your parents for what they gave you, don’t blame them for what they didn’t. All parents want the best for their children, and usually their life experiences depict the type of parents they will be and shapes their parenting skills. Your parents gave you the best that they had when they had it.

4.) ENJOY THE JOURNEY

Be patient, but keep moving forward. Understanding how our emotions are affecting our behavior is not an effortless task. This process requires a lot of self-love, self-awareness, and perseverance but having some insight regarding the cause of actions is crucial to developing long-lasting bonds with other people.

5.) PAY ATTENTION

You may not have control over how you are feeling, but you are in control of the intensity of that emotion and your consequential reaction. Take a good look at some of your destructive behaviors and patterns to see if you can pinpoint them to a particular feeling. Do you overeat when you’re sad? Do you drink alcohol when you’re angry or spend a lot of money when you feel insecure? If you can connect a particular emotion with an action, you can break the cycle by being aware of how that emotion leads you to the destructive outcome.

Many people are not taught how to control, process or express feelings so it’s important for these people to seek help in order to experience optimum health and maximum happiness. Professional counselors, therapists and coaches (like me) are trained to help you make important connections between your feelings and your experiences and your thoughts and behavior.

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