Don’t Let Your Emotions Overwhelm You; Listen To Them

by Amanda Linehan on January 12, 2009

in Best Of

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“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”  – Dale Carnegie

Your emotions are intelligent.  If you listen to them, they will send you messages.  This is not advice we regularly hear.  Mostly, when we think about people who are emotional, we think of hysterics and out of control behavior.  But, feeling out of control only happens when your emotions are managing you and you are not managing them.

In order to manage your emotions, it is essential that you trust your emotions.  And trust begins when you believe that your emotions are trying to tell you something, and you listen to them.  Here is how to trust, and listen to, your emotions.

Feel Your Emotions

There is a difference between feeling your emotions and indulging your emotions.  Indulging your emotions means wallowing in them.  At that point, your emotions are managing you.  Indulging your emotions makes you feel as if you are sinking into them, your feet no longer have solid ground beneath them.  And, you feel powerless to stop the sinking.

On the other hand, feeling your emotions means you are noticing the sensations that they create in your body.  For instance, when I’m feeling sad my body feels heavy and sluggish.  Those sensations are how I feel my sadness.  But, though I can feel them, I’m not sinking into them.  I can feel my emotions while still maintaining a sense of my own self.

Identify Your Emotions

Oftentimes, when we feel a lot of strong emotion at a particular event or circumstance, there is more than one emotion at work.  Teasing out exactly what you feel helps you to know what steps to take next.  This is a part of why we get so overwhelmed.  When we can’t name our emotions, we feel overpowered by them.  We are just a jumble of feelings.

Listen To Your Emotions

Naming your emotions and feeling them in your body allows you, all at once, to pay attention to them without losing your sense of self in them.  Your emotions at any given time are one part of your experience, they are not the whole thing.

Listening to your emotions is simple.  Just ask “Why do I feel ( insert whatever emotion you are feeling).”  The answer you get back is the message you are supposed to get.  You will have to ask “Why” a few times to get to the root of the emotion.  Unfortunately, the root of the emotion my be unpleasant or painful, but it’s this awareness that will move you forward in your life and help you to grow as you should.

For example, you are working on a project at work and it’s not going as well as you would like.  You feel intensely frustrated and you ask “why?”.  You realize that since you started this job, you haven’t felt comfortable in it.  When you ask “why” again, you realize that you don’t feel competent in your role.  As you ask again, you realize that you often view yourself as not being “good enough.”  You can then take action on this belief about yourself because it is the root of your emotion.

Asking For Help

Asking “why” and receiving answers can get painful, but ultimately you will come to the root of the emotion and that root is what you need to take action on.  At some point in the process, if things become too painful or you feel stuck, it would be wise to seek out someone trained in helping people through difficult emotions.  You may not need this help, but you might.  Being self aware doesn’t mean you have to do it all by yourself, it just means you have to be committed to the process.  So don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it.

Listening to your emotions is not a self indulgent activity, it is an important activity for your personal growth and development.  Trust your emotions.

What are some of your strategies for dealing with emotions?  Feel free to answer in the comments section.

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