Over the last few weeks I’ve experienced some intense emotions: grief, fear, anger and frustration. I could feel the tension in my body.
It’s hard to do, but I continue to learn to try not to make sense of what is happening with my emotions in the very moment that I am experiencing them.
If I do I will just try and look for evidence to confirm what I am experiencing and further reinforce whatever intense emotion I am feeling.
This is definitely not helpful if you want a better quality of life and feel less stressed – or at least have a healthier relationship with stress.
By trying to understand your emotions in the moment, you will also probably end up feeling overwhelmed and experience other secondary and tertiary emotions. Feelings like being anxious about feeling anxious which can potentially trigger a vicious cycle of anxious responses to anything that life throws your way.
Psychologist Paul Ekman suggests that this is because we are in a refractory state. In this state our thinking cannot incorporate information that does not fit, maintain or justify the emotions we are feeling. He says if we stay in this state for too long it starts to bias the way we see the world and ourselves.
Can you relate to this?
For example, you wake up feeling a little off, you’re not so nice to your partner and you find they are stand offish. You take this personally, and then you go to work and suddenly the very project that you were so excited and inspired to tackle, seems to have so many problems and issues that now you find yourself thinking that this project is unrealistic! And you don’t have the drive nor the motivation to see it through and yet you need to inspire your team to get on board and get it done. And because you stay in this too-hard-to-do bias then the whole day feels heavy, tiring and draining.
It’s normal and we all go through it. But what differentiates those who stay in a refractory state and those who move through it faster?
Those who tend to move through it and let emotions dissolve or be integrated quicker:
- are more emotionally attuned
- know not to overanalyse what they are feeling
- stay focused on the bigger picture and their why
- use the power of their logical mind to stay present and grounded
- take time out to just be
- don’t make rushed decisions.
So, what should you do instead, when feeling overcome with intense emotional energy?
- Be present to what you are feeling. Name the feeling. If you don’t know the exact feeling that is ok. As long as you can give it something e.g. a ball of fire in my chest. This is important because the process of naming and even locating a feeling in the body helps with accepting it.
- Bring your awareness in to the spaciousness and the quiet in which the feeling sits in. Imagine the space which embodies and holds the feeling. Focus on that.
- Breathe into this space. This is a powerful reminder that no matter what is happening there is this presence, space and peace in which the intensity sits in. And this is reassuring because it brings us back to the core of who we are.
To continue to support you in this process of integrating emotions in your body you need to create a lot of space for them. Don’t hold others responsible for what you feel. Take that responsibly into your own hands and make time to be in the spaciousness of your emotions.
And this is part of the process of becoming more of who you. More You.
Giving our emotions space is something that you can learn more about at The Empowered Woman Live Retreats. Gift yourself the time and space to understand more about you, your mission and your purpose. Come and join a group of like-minded women at the next retreat in May. I would love to see you there.