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What Do I Do With My Emotions?

by Claudine Sweeney
December 4th 2019

Emotions can run our lives if we let them. Even if we think we have a good handle on our emotions they never seem to go away and can even return with a vengeance. So what do we do with our emotions... More

Welcome to rise up and shine. We are two women at different stages of life who have overcome feeling stuck and are now living life fully with peace and joy join us weekly for a real raw and faithful conversation about our trials and triumphs bringing hope insight and weekly tips that you too can rise up and let your light shine bright. Hey Ashley, welcome back. It's great to be here with you today today, we're gonna be talking about emotions. We all have them, we love them, we hate them, that's part of it well and I found I can be controlled by my emotions and so it's caused me a lot of grief in my life and hardships and when I've really learned the tools that I've learned over the last year, it just gave a lot of freedom and peace in my life. So I'm so excited to share with our listeners today those tools that both you and I have learned in our lives just to have more peace and joy. And they are the tools that we help our clients with as well when they get stuck or feel frustrated or don't know how to shift from one emotion to the other.

So why don't we start by defining emotion? What are emotions? So when I looked up in Webster's dictionary, it was this really great line, it said emotions are a conscious mental reaction and I found that really fascinating because the word conscious we feel means that we can be in control. Like we know exactly this is the emotion I'm going to have when this circumstance happens, right? But it doesn't feel that way. No, it sure doesn't. It feels like I have no control sometimes of my emotions. I feel like they take me over until I learned how to manage them. I felt very controlled and enslaved by my emotions. Yeah, I did too. I felt like I was living by my emotions. I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster, to be perfectly honest. I just felt like there. I was always up or down up or down, and I did not think I did not believe that I had any control over my emotions.

You know, I mean, we hear that a lot, right? Especially as us women tend to be the emotional ones, but that we can be ruled by our emotions, but we feel like that's just reality of it. That's true. But in fact, it's not No, it's not true. And emotions, I believe are all God given and they serve a purpose. They help us to add joy and peace to the good times in our lives. They are messages telling us how we feel and they help guide and direct us. Yeah, absolutely. So, when there's a circumstance that happens and our emotions are all flooded, right? We're just feeling overwhelmed. We're feeling angry. We're feeling frustrated or whatever, that it's telling us something about how we're feeling about the situation and a lot of the times it comes from somewhere, right? They don't it's our brains programming and reacting okay, when this happens and I'm going to feel angry about it or when this happens, I'm gonna feel happy about it or I'm gonna feel disgusted, right?

All of those emotions. But they they are once we realize they are a tool in telling us how we feel about whatever is going on around us, it can serve us so well in our life. Yeah, that's right. I love thinking of emotions as servants. I think for so many years I was mastered by emotions and learning the tips and tools to let them be my servants and help me make course corrections in my life not to give into them but not to resist or avoid them either. So let's talk about some myths of emotions just talking with you and with other clients. I came up with four common myths about emotions. The first one is our circumstances dictate our emotions. And we talked about that on our previous podcast. But why you share a little bit more about that. Yeah. So I was really good at this. I would always blame my circumstances for how I felt. And it was as if I had no control of how I was feeling because I was trying to control my situation.

But learning that our situations or circumstances are neutral majority of the time they're uncontrollable my emotions I can control I can manage, I can be more on top of and choose essentially. That's right. And I think even listening that it takes us from the victim mentality. Like I'm a victim of my circumstances. I'm a victim of my situation to taking our power back and realizing that we're in control that we're in control of our thoughts were in control of our emotions and our behaviors. So that's the first myth. And I don't know about you claudine. But this is how I lived my life. I was the victim of my circumstances and I felt my emotions were a result of because what was happening, why someone else was acting up when my Children were being challenging or argumentative or why my marriage was in shambles at times, I felt like it was my and I was just the victim suffering all these emotions, right?

And I think a lot of women struggle with this. If you find yourself saying if only then if only he would change, then I'd be happy. If only they would obey, then I'd find peace. If only blank, then blank. You fill in the blank. But that is definitely giving our power away. It's being a victim. And it's a myth that our circumstances dictate our emotions. Yes. And I felt it was my responsibility to make other people happy, especially in my own family. I felt it was my responsibility. So if they weren't happy in a specific circumstance, it was my fault. I needed to do something which left me an emotional wreck, obviously. So claudine, what's the second myth? Well, the second myth is that negative emotions are bad and I think I spent a lot of time and I'm not alone in this and trying to stuff resist deny those negative emotions avoid. I just want to be happy. I just want to walk through the meadow, just smiling and peace and love and all that.

And that's not the reality of life. But I really did believe that if I was feeling something negative, there was something wrong with me or something wrong with my circumstance. And as we grew up, that was a belief that we formed in our own minds, right? I mean, I never had anyone tell me, oh, you shouldn't feel that way. But sometimes we do. For example, someone close to me addressed one of my Children and said, well, you can have this treat if you can change your attitude and be happy. And I love this person dearly. But I spoke to my child after that and I said, I love this person, but I do not agree if it's okay that you are upset, it's okay that you are not happy right now, that you're not feeling that way, right? But a lot of us don't do that in our own lives well. And that's where, you know, you have a step up on me with this emotional health tools, teach your Children. I was the one that would send my kids to their room and they couldn't come out until they were happy. And I have um one adult child that still spends a lot of time in their room and I just wonder if they don't come out until they're happy with them well, and that could have been their place of comfort, right?

One of the other myths, myths number three is if I allow these negative emotions, I will never move on. And yes, I think we've all struggled this one. If I really feel my anger, if I really feel my sadness, it'll never go away and I'll never move in. I think another good example is grief or lost because that seems to take a lot longer to move on from and to heal from. And we try to distract ourselves and not feel that because in reality we try to still function normally. We we still have a family to take care of. Some of us have to go to work. You know, we can't just stop everything and just wallow in our loss and our grief, but we can learn to distract ourselves or avoid those emotions. But in essence, they come back stronger and they'll keep rearing its ugly head, right, try to move on. But something will trigger it and then we'll just have this meltdown and then, okay, you know, trudge on, let's keep going.

Let's not deal with it, don't deal with it, but it tries to keep popping up and that's because it needs to be dealt with and it needs to be processed properly. Yeah, that's true and repressing. It just makes it actually worse. It intensifies it. Instead of dealing with it and releasing it. It sits there within us and get stronger and more intense. And then the vicious cycle starts where we have to continue to avoid and suppress and it almost takes more energy after a while to suppress it then to actually process the correct way, the healthy way and then move on. But I think many of us are just so afraid to experience those negative emotion because they're uncomfortable. We don't want to feel uncomfortable and that's where we've learned over time over our years, we have developed this belief that whether we've been told we don't feel that way or our own selves, we told our own selves don't feel that way because it's uncomfortable and everybody would rather be sunshine and butterflies and happy all the time.

But unfortunately that's not true and it makes other people uncomfortable. I think a lot of times when we feel sad or angry or frustrated, other people become uncomfortable because they don't know how to handle it. And so then it's again this cycle where okay I'm uncomfortable, but now I'm making my loved one uncomfortable. So I better just stuff it. So we're all just comfortable and I have a really good example with my two kids, they're very, very opposite. Just like my husband and I, my daughter is a lot like me in the sense where she's positive all the time and wants to be positive all the time and wants others to be positive all the time. And my son is more of a realist and he's very open with how he feels, which is great, but when he feels angry or irritated or just kind of moody, it really bothers my daughter because she's, you know, like me, why can't we just be happy? Like, you know, there's always something to be happy about and he just doesn't run that way. And so we've been teaching them fortunately, my husband and I are really on the same page with this parenting aspect as that he's allowed to feel how he feels, she's allowed to feel how she feels.

But it's to not expect someone who may be wrestling with that right now to be happy, We'll just be happy because it's uncomfortable for me to be around and we're teaching my daughter that if this is how he's feeling right now, maybe you can go read in your room, you know, I mean, he's working through it, but he's allowed to feel this way right now and if you feel comfortable, just know that it's not your fault. It's nothing that you did and you're not responsible for making him happy. Just let him go through this and it'll move, right, well, you know, in that segue right into one of the truths. One of the first truths of emotions is that they're all God given. They're all part of the human experience. And we are built to have all emotions. A wide range of emotions were made in the image of God. And he felt things he felt sad, he felt angry. He felt happy, felt peaceful. And so it's interesting that for me, one of the truth learning that all emotions were God given and they're part of the human experience helped me change my thoughts on emotions and it really helped me gain some control and responsibility of the way I felt.

Yeah, for me, I felt it gave me permission, it gave me permission to feel even the uncomfortable feelings. If I got frustrated, it was okay if I got angry, it was okay. It was how I responded that I had to be careful about, but it's okay to be angry. God never told us. Don't be angry. Said in your anger, do do not sin, right? And it's okay to be angry. So it was like, oh good. It's okay, I'm angry but let me control it, right? And that's huge. Even that because I do think that gets twisted, we feel like we can't be angry. But jesus was really clear. He didn't say don't ever be angry like you said. But he said in it, don't sin. It's don't yell. Don't scream, don't tear your loved one apart or road rage or any of that, the anger you feel, there's probably a boundary or something that's been crossed and it might be very valid. But what you do with it, how you respond in your anger, any of your emotions, that's our responsibility and what I've learned a lot recently is that if I do react in my anger then I'm the one that suffers as well as who I was angry towards.

You know, I could react or snap at my Children and then send them off to school. They I can feel insecure about our last interaction and then I feel shame all day long I'll feel. Oh my gosh, I did not like how I responded and I sent my poor kids to school that way. They're gonna fail a test. Oh no, they're gonna have a bad day because of me. But I realized that as long as I can control my reactions, it's okay to be angry. But I need to choose another way to deal with it. Like take a break step away, breathe right and that's a second truth that our negative emotions can serve us if we don't allow them to master s and we feel these things whether it's anger or sadness or frustration, anything that we would term a negative emotion, we feel those and those can serve us, they can help us. Like I said earlier, course direct in our lives like I remember for me when my kids were young and if I, I was really snappy with him in the morning, it was usually because I woke up late or I hadn't planned, I wasn't organized, it was really on me and I had to learn.

I probably need to set my clock 15 minutes earlier so I can have my cup of coffee, I can have, the lunch is done, then I'm in a place where I not stressed out and um responding in an unloving way, which is how I wanted to respond. So it helped me make changes in my behavior so that I could control my emotions. Yes, and that is exactly what I came to find out is when I was getting stressed out every morning, trying to get my kids out to school, get ready, get up, get moving and out the door. I would run frustrated and rush and then that does something to them too. They're not comfortable with mom's upset at me, oh my gosh, I'm so sorry and they feel bad and then I come home and then I feel bad all day. But when I sat down finally and thought, why is this time of the day so stressful for me, why am I reacting like this? Why am I so irritated? And I realized I'm rushing because I'm not prepared I'm not waking up early enough, I'm not having my still quiet time with my coffee and my jesus and I'm not prepared.

I'm not planning ahead. I'm not setting them up for success. So my reaction towards them really should have been, hey mom, you know, something needs to change here. And that's where we talked about earlier. It's a message to tell us what's going on. How am I feeling? So I knew as their caregiver their parent, I need to be the one that's going to make changes to set us all up for success. Right? That's a great point. Another truth is that resisting emotions actually intensifies them when we allow ourselves to be aware and become comfortable being uncomfortable. That helps our emotions pass through. I like that. So I want to ask you if you have any example that comes to mind maybe even in marriage or in a relationship you have that you can share with our listeners just one. Well, we may only have time for one. Right? Well, I think for me, I was a major stuffer and kept a lot of feeling stuff down because I didn't feel safe or in some instances I didn't feel worthy speaking my truth.

So I would stuff disappointment and frustration and I would just keep it down there, whether in my marriage or with girlfriends and I just wouldn't talk about it. But meanwhile it would simmer down there. And I just thought that it was perhaps maybe um a righteous or spiritual thing to do, but in reality I was really doing damage to myself and those relationships because I wasn't being true to myself, it wasn't speaking my truth and I didn't give my husband or my girlfriends the opportunity to meet my needs in a way that was more beneficial for me. So I did a lot of stuffing and avoiding difficult conversations and it didn't honor or serve the relationships. And I think honestly it did me some damage, it did my relationship some damage. And it helped me really dig down deeper into some subconscious beliefs that I had, even about myself, feelings of lack of worth feeling of. I don't deserve any better than this.

And once I was able to touch on those, I was really able to heal. And then now I can express frustration, I can express disappointment. I can express sadness in a way that's healthy, not only for myself, but for those around me and I think even accept them. Yeah, accepting those emotions, those quote, unquote negative emotions and allowing them to be and just talking the truth that it's not bad. They're uncomfortable, but they're not bad. They're all God given they're serving a purpose. I need to listen. Yeah. And that's the first step in healing and dealing with our emotions is becoming aware of what we're really feeling. And for me, my go to emotion when I was younger in my twenties and thirties was anger and it was a really wise mentor friend of mine that helped me realize that I was sad. My go to emotion was angry and one day we were talking it through and she was trying to help me get in touch with it and she goes, oh you're hurt, you're sad. And I didn't realize I had such a hard time connecting my emotions and even labeling them or even becoming aware.

So you're right. Awareness is the first step in healing and dealing with our emotions. Just even knowing that we are feeling something like that for so many of us. That's actually difficult because we've repressed it and stuffed it for so long. And sometimes there will be a trigger that an explosion happens. You know, it's you stuff it for so long, but eventually it's gonna come out. You know, if there's so much pressure and in our family, we coined this term called scan angry. So instead of hungry, right, you can act irritable or for frustrated or angry when you're hungry. We also recognize that anger can emerge, but it's really out of fear. Anger is the reaction, the fear is the true feeling. And that's actually the primary emotions and secondary emotions where anger seems to be the one and only emotion we might be feeling. But if you dig deeper, then you will know there is another underlying root emotion there and sometimes that primary emotion comes and goes so quick that the second one pops up the anger and you think that's what I'm I'm angry.

But yeah, you're angry. But it's more of a reaction out of your fear or your sadness. That's right. And you've just described the second step in healing and dealing with our emotions which is to reflect to really take some time and talk to ourselves and say, okay, I'm feeling angry, I'm feeling scared, where is this coming from? So actually you've just touched on the second step in healing and dealing with our emotions, which is to reflect to really take that time without judgment, but with compassion and curiosity to reflect on why am I feeling this? Is there something that triggered it? Is there something underlying that I have not dealt with um things even as simple as being dehydrated or lack of sleep? They're not all psychological reasons. Some of them are physiological. And I actually, about two weeks ago I had a really tough day. I was feeling so down and everything was going great. I really did some thought work and I explored my um day, my thinking my thoughts and I thought everything was great.

And yet I was so down, it was such a strange feeling. And then I had a large glass of water and I kid you not 20 minutes later I was feeling on top of the world. I had just gotten so dehydrated. So there are other reasons there's physiological and psychological reasons. But taking time to reflect to examine where is this coming from again without judgment, but with curiosity and compassion for ourselves. And the third step is really to allow it. And I think of the definition that emotions comes from the latin root word in there, which means to move out and emotions are energy and they're meant to come and go. And it reminds me of that quote emotions are like waves, we can't stop them from coming, but we can choose which ones to surf. And it also reminds me of a metaphor. I've got a lot of beach metaphors today, I think it's time for a trip. But anyway, but um I think about trying to keep a beach ball down underwater and that's what we do with our emotions.

We try to push them down and honestly, if we just released it and let it go, it would pop up and then it would rest still on top of the water. But we use so much energy to keep them suppressed to keep it push down for whatever reasons and our emotions are meant to move their energy and their meant to move through our bodies and whatever we feel it's not gonna last forever. Even though it feels like that on some days it feels like I'm never gonna be happy again. I'm never going to feel peaceful again. I'm never gonna feel joyful again. I've been there where I thought that this depression, the sadness, this anger is never going to leave me. But there was a lot of resisting going on and once I released it and allowed them and didn't judge it. It didn't define me. They were just transitionary feelings. They came and they left when I let them leave, that is where I was able to heal. So one of the things I've learned over this past year in my own journey is how many physical ailments or disorders or diseases can come about over time by suppressing our emotions and not allowing ourselves to feel them.

And when I was going through a class last year, that was one of the key takeaways for me was that this is a matter of life and death really and my health. And if I'm not acknowledging my emotions, if I'm not aware of my emotions, if I'm not labeling my emotions and if I'm not just sitting and being with my emotions, it will affect my health overall. And even my lifespan when I learned about that, it was really eye opening because I may not live as long just because I suppress my feelings and I don't acknowledge my emotions, I don't process them in a healthy way I stuff them or I avoid them. I distract myself a lot. So I don't have to feel. And now that I have a family and kids and a house to take care of and it's a lot easier to distract myself because I have a lot of responsibilities on my plate and I could just push push push through and we think it's the strong thing to do?

Just don't let us don't let it get us down. Just keep going, keep going. Which that's what many of us were trained to believe. But we didn't know back then what we know now. We know a lot more research now and science behind stuffing our feelings that it gets literally under our skin and causes unhealthy cells and can cause disorders and diseases. I mean linked to so many things like dementia Alzheimer's you know and O. C. D. A. D. H. D. All these things just by repressing our emotions and not dealing with them. Yeah that's so true. And you said it disease. I mean that's dis ease when we're ill at ease. And honestly if we allow our anger, frustration or sadness to just pass through us which is they're meant to do, just pass through it, feel it learn from it. And then of course correct then um we wouldn't suffer this disease and we do a disservice to ourselves and our loved ones when we don't show up authentically anyway.

And we were never meant to do that. I believe, you know, God gave us emotions to feel them to give us a fullness of life to experience all the benefits. Joys, blessings, hardships, trials of being a human. How can we experience joy and happiness and peace when we don't experience the opposite. So both of them are there for a purpose. And how can we really appreciate love if we never experience sadness or loss even and how can we experience peace and joy if we don't experience disappointment? That's right. It's a balancing act in essence and that's where the full life comes in. If we were always happy, then happy would become boring and it wouldn't be enough, right? And we don't want to be those were not even close to being those, so we don't have to worry about that. So it's really important to understand and work with our emotions to be able to release them and process them because our emotions direct our behaviors and when we want to go after our goals in our life, whether it's more loving relationships or financial security or great relationship with our Children, whatever it is, we need to make sure that our emotions are there to serve us and that we're not mastered by them.

But we'll be talking about that more in depth next week on our podcast about our behaviors and how we can channel those behaviors to get the results that we want in our life and live life to the full friends. Thank you so much for tuning in with us today. We hope this episode has brought you one step closer to living the life you love until next time. Remember the world needs who you were made to be

What Do I Do With My Emotions?
What Do I Do With My Emotions?
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