How to deal with emotions

by talkbackty on Jun 7, 2011

I don't know about everyone else in the world but this is generally how I feel things emotionally:

Slowly.  And like a tidal wave.

See tidal waves aren't like what we see in the movies.  They are usually only a couple of feet high and yet can be propelled for thousands of miles from their origin point.  That's my emotions in a nutshell.  They are basically even-keel or comprehensible (like a 4 foot tall wave) and yet they are immensely powerful, and will sometimes overwhelm me like a helpless sun-tanner on the beach.  

Over the years I've attempted multiple coping methods to deal with my emotions and today I've come to surprise myself by how well they work.  And so I have decided to share.  Thanks Barney.

It's okay if you didn't understand the Barney joke.  

1.  Be present while feeling emotions.  I used to bury things.  (Like any real man).  Unfortanately, that often leads to bursting into tears in the work place and cursing Zeus, Odin and Captain Morgan.  The truth is that we should all be aware of what we are feeling, a kind of "control your emotions and not be controlled by them" type of thing.  It helps to speak the words out loud.  Say, "I feel angry, sad, upset, hurt, lonely, afraid."  This also works in good moments too.  Saying when you are happy, excited, thankful (especially to another person who is expereincing things with you) can be a real benefit.

2.  Breathe.  A few deep breaths increases blood flow while steadying the heart rate.  Especially handy if you are in one of those situations where testoserone and/or adrenaline has started pumping.  Neurochemicals don't travel in your bloodstream, however, the oxygen that often is required to have a bodily reaction most certainly does.  If you can control your breathing you are much closer to controlling your emotions.

3.  Move, dance, run, be physical.  Excercise is fantastic.  Try to be pissed off after running 2 miles (or your health equivalent of 2 miles), it's a lot harder.  There's biological reasons for this, but for the most part just know that it works.  I generally go in this order for small-medium issues (bad day, argument with someone): walk, dance, walk some more.  I dance.  It's a thing I do.  I'm not particualary good but I do it nonetheless.  The thing is most people are capable of dancing and don't.  I'd suggest giving it a try.  For really big issues (death, break-ups) I try and immediately exhaust myself.  The longer I stew in my own brain the worse I'll feel.  

Fantastic.  We've felt our emotions.  We've breathed to overcome the inital rush of physiological reactions.  And then we've gotten physical in order to help cope.  All those things help deal with immediate emotional responses.  But what about the things that seem to last and last.  Surely we can't just breathe and run our way out of emotions right?

Dont' call me Shirley.

It's less okay if you didn't understand that joke.

I like those things because it's universal.  I know those things will work for everyone.  The rest is how I deal with things because it works for me.  I think it will work for others but I'm not "others", so I don't know for sure.  

I will complete my thoughts in the next post.