How you manage your feelings has a massive impact on the quality and enjoyment of your life. A core component of counselling and therapy is to assist you to best manage your feelings and to enhance your ‘emotional intelligence’.
There are many approaches to working on feelings. I use a variety of therapies, techniques and tools according to what best suits each individual. Some popular options include, amongst others, breathing techniques, cognitive processing work, mindfulness techniques and relaxation and guided visualization techniques.
How do you usually manage your feelings?
Do you ignore, resist or avoid your feelings, or ‘push them under’?
Do you displace your feelings by blaming everything except the real cause of the problem? For example becoming furious with the police officer for giving you a speeding ticket!
Do you become agitated and express your feelings indirectly by slamming doors or dreaming up revenge fantasies?
Maybe you blow up, explode, or lose your temper.
Do you go into a misery tailspin with negative thoughts and rumination? Some people stew or ruminate for days over an upsetting incident while others can quickly move on without ‘taking it to heart.’
Do you express your feelings clearly and in positively empowered ways?
Do you take effective problem solving action?
Do you tend to be resilient and optimistic?
We are naturally wired to have certain responses to specific experiences, such as grief following loss, or fear in response to perceived danger. However, it is not uncommon for people to become ‘stuck’ in painful or troublesome feelings, along with a sense of being powerless to free themselves. This is commonly the case with depression for example. Many people struggle to ‘keep a lid’ on anger and frustration or feel trapped in overwhelm.
Importantly, the intensity, duration and broader impact of feelings are largely in our control, no matter the cards life may deal us.
Make Friends With Your Feelings
Instead of perceiving feelings as ‘undesirable’, negative or problematic, they can be regarded as very useful advisors and signposts. Generally, feelings carry important information and they will persist and even escalate, until you take notice of whatever needs to be addressed.
When you effectively ‘listen’ to your feelings, and effectively process what underlies your feelings, you will usually find these feelings lose their power and intensity. When you learn how to manage your feelings with understanding and skill, even the most entrenched feelings can dissipate surprisingly quickly. An insightful shift in perspective and understanding can dramatically loosen the hold of even the most potent feelings.
What It Takes To Effectively Manage Your Feelings
To more effectively manage your feelings:
- expand self awareness – journaling is a great way to assist this process
- increase understanding and identify needs
- learn specific skill sets. Core skills include the ability to recognize and accurately name feelings, to process information accurately, to express feelings appropriately and to respond effectively to your own and other peoples’ feelings
- develop and strengthen resilience and optimism
- develop assertiveness and problem solving skills
Depending on our perceptions, our interpretations about events and the nature of our self talk, we can wind ourselves up or calm ourselves down, become stuck or set ourselves free to move on.
You may also like to read my article on Journalling For Awareness And Understanding.