Emotions are a normal part of life. Everyone feels sadness or joy, anxiety or excitement. But most people struggle with unhealthy emotions, like anger and resentment, which can have a negative impact on their life and relationships. Have you ever been told to just let something go, or to get over it? These are common responses from someone who might want you to process your emotions. But when we experience difficult or uncomfortable emotions, it’s never as simple as just letting them go. It’s important to learn how to identify your emotions, get comfortable with them, and process them in a healthy way to avoid feeling overpowered.
Process an emotion?
It’s so important for us to recognize what we’re feeling on a daily basis, and even more important. That we express what we’re feeling. You should confront the emotion rather than push it away.
When we don’t practice this expression of emotions, they can eventually explode on us. If we’re continuously put in situations where our needs and goals aren’t being met, those negative emotions start to bottle up. This pressure can actually cause us to have negative thoughts about the world, and about ourselves. So, if we learn how to process our emotions in a timely manner, we can interact with our world in a more positive way
How to process an emotion
- The first step to processing emotion is identifying that it even exists. No denial here! Recognizing that you’re upset, angry, or grieving is necessary to be able to move through the motions of processing what you’re really feeling.
- Once you’ve identified your emotion, you need to be able to sit with it. Getting comfortable with uncomfortable emotions isn’t easy, but it’s a crucial step to understanding your feelings.
- Next, you’ll want to try and pinpoint why you might be experiencing this emotion. Some common reasons people experience negative emotions include old triggers, unmet needs, boundary violations, old behavior patterns, self-judgment, or all of the above!
For me, I instantly feel fear anytime someone asks me “to talk later.” In the past, this “can we talk later” phrase has most often turned into a negative situation. Now I can confidently identify that I feel this emotion because of old triggers. When you have this ah-ha! moment, you’ll know you’re on the right track to processing your emotions.
- Now comes the hard part: Address the emotion. Try to act in a healthy way based on the information your emotion has given you. Maybe you need to create a stronger boundary, or maybe you need to work toward meeting that need or goal.
Addressing an emotion sometimes means going against what your mind or body urges you to do. If you feel like you want to go to sleep and not interact with anyone, go for a walk instead! It’s all about acting in a healthy way.
Try activities that help you process your emotions
One way to process unprocessed emotions is through activities that help you understand yourself better and learn how to deal with challenging emotions. For example, journaling can be helpful because it helps you reflect on your life and put difficult situations in perspective. Some other activities that can help you process your emotions are:
- Spending time outdoors
- Breathing exercises
- Talking to a therapist or counselor
Talk to people who are trustworthy and supportive
It’s important to talk with people who are trustworthy and supportive. Reach out to friends, family members, clergy, or counselors, or seek professional help. Talk about the feelings that you have without putting blame on anyone else for your emotions. It’s important to know that it’s not always easy to remove negative emotions from your life. But taking time to process them and releasing them is a healthy way of moving forward in life.