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pROCESSING EMOTIONS

You cannot do anything to stop emotions from arising, but you can always learn new ways to process them.

TRY TO REMEMBER THE FOLLOWING WHEN FACING YOUR EMOTIONS

  • Emotions may arise suddenly. You can let emotions wash through you and just acknowledge them. Even though feelings of distress and anxiety might not disappear, you will still feel a bit better.
  • You can listen to your emotions – how they affect your mood and thoughts and how they feel like in your body.
  • You do not always have the opportunity to process emotions immediately as or after they arise. They can be awakened by things such as new situations and events or someone’s words, general aspect, gestures or voice. You can observe the emotion then or, if even that is impossible, return to it later.
  • It is never too late to process emotions you have not been able to face earlier.
  • Pay attention to emotions that will not leave you. What helps you let go of them (e.g. exercise, being outdoors, something nice to do)?
  • Listen to and value the emotions that help protect yourself, for instance.

GIVE YOUR EMOTIONS CONCRETE SHAPE

  • Talk about your emotions. The more you talk about them, the better you become at it. It also makes it easier to accept and understand your emotions.
  • Create characters for your emotions in your mind. Because emotions are invisible yet still very true in your mind, imaginary characters might make it easier to control them. Mental images hold immense power.
  • Do exercises related to emotions. You can increase your understanding of emotions with exercises such as drawing or otherwise visualising the emotions you experience. You could also keep an emotion diary.
  • Attaching emotions to things like music or exercising is very useful. Who would not have a trusty song they always listen to when sad/angry/happy, etc. Music awakens emotions and also helps deal with them. Exercising can give you similar benefits for processing emotions.
  • Do exercises with mental images: visualise such situations in advance that are sure to evoke emotions and place yourself in them. Go through different ways in which you could act in them and choose the one you think is best.

HOW TO ACT WHEN EXPERIENCING STRONG EMOTIONS?

  • Make a conscious effort to calm down: Focusing on your own breathing and calmly breathing in and out are in themselves efficient ways to calm your own agitated reactions.
  • Call a time-out: Step back and recognise your feelings but do not react yet. If possible, go to another place or do something completely different to calm yourself down. When your emotions stabilise, wait a moment and consider the situation. What happened? Why are you feeling the way you are feeling? What alternative ways to act do you have? Which one would be the best choice? How could you best express yourself? After having done this, act in your chosen way.

Sometimes emotions can get you stuck in a certain state and leave you emotionally trapped. If needed, you should ask for support for processing emotions from outsiders.