On the wall in my office there is a list of emotions and feelings that I wrote with chalk on chalkboard paper. I’ve been in private practice for five years, and during each initial session with a client we review the feelings and emotions on that wall at some point. This wall of feelings provides some level of shock for clients because they discover feelings that they didn’t know existed. They realize good feelings that they didn’t know they desired and negative feelings they aren’t comfortable with saying out loud.
It amazes me that so many of us are walking around being being bosses in every way possible and still have no idea how we really feel. I mean…we know mad, happy, sad, upset, or “some type of way”. But to know that you feel insignificant or desire to feel adored just changes the depth of what you feel as a human. I am extremely grateful that as a clinician I get to help open up the portal of feelings, also known as the doorway to transparency and vulnerability.
It’s super scary to allow people to know how we really feel. It’s even scarier to find out why! Depression is excessively worrying about the past to the point of affecting our ability to stay in the present without constantly emotionally chewing on what could have or should have happened.
Anxiety is excessively worrying about the future. Worrying so much that we try to explore every worst case scenario possible. We can worry so much that those thoughts can start to physically create illness in our nervous system. These worries start to become a part of our personality and we teach these behaviors to our children. We assume it’s what we need to do to manage risks. And to some degree it’s true. Fortunately for us the future will be there when we get there, so there is no need to borrow worries from tomorrow.
I hear you ask, “Okay. So now what?”
Here are some suggestions. But you have to choose to try to do something different to help cultivate a healthier emotional lifestyle. It is not easy, but it’s definitely worth the try.
- Learn to expand your vocabulary about emotions and feeling words (Google can help)
- Use these new words to better describe how you are feeling in the moment. Knowing that you feel left out instead of mad can help you feel more understood, and it gives you more insight about yourself at that time.
- Learn ways to help you stay in the now. The past is finished and the present has not happened yet. Meditation, words of affirmation, talking out loud to yourself, writing, working out, yoga, talking with someone you trust, o,r my personal favorite, go to therapy.
- Breathe. Deep, long, intentional breathing. Breathe is life. Breathing creates such more in our bodies and minds than we actually think. Come back to your breath when you go too far in the past and too far in the present.
Have you ever felt mad or sad but after a walk or workout you feel better and think more clearly?
One reason is because feelings lead to healing, breathing helps us stay in the moment and motion helps evoke emotion. Know how you really feel and find ways to get that energy out of your body in healthy lasting ways.