You Found Emotions: Now What to Do with Them? Part 2 of a 7-part blog series. Late joining this series? Catch up on Part 1!
As we noted in our last “You and Emotions” blog post, some people have a very easy time finding the emotions that arise in them, and some don’t.
If you don’t feel emotions easily, please take the time to read that first post in our series, because allowing yourself to find and feel emotions is a basic ability necessary to work effectively with emotions.
It may feel awkward to repeat the words “the emotions that come up (arise) in me,” yet when you work with emotions, I ask that you follow this format.
My daughter once had a pony that lived in our back yard. Chiquita was a lovely Arabian-Welsh mix, sturdy and cooperative. The time came, however, when my daughter was ready to move on to other pursuits. She thought of selling Chiquita. That thought saddened her a lot. A dear friend suggested “Think of it this way. Chiquita has brought you great joy and pleasure. When you sell her, you’re giving another child the opportunity to experience that joy and pleasure!”
The same is true with emotions.
Because emotions bring us messages and help us to navigate our lives, they are incredible helpers. When we turn them loose after we partner with them and follow their message, they are free to move on and offer similar incredible help to others.
Knowing how to work with the emotions we discover and feel requires that we know more about them. You have likely heard the phrase that “Emotions are energy, e-motions, energy in motion.” I agree wholeheartedly with this statement. Since emotions are energy, they follow the laws that govern energy.
Emotions cannot be destroyed or gotten rid of.
When emotions are blocked (or held inside of us), they grow in power.
Emotions constantly seek to move; when blocked, they seek a way out.
Whatever blocks the movement of emotions is known as a Resistor.
Resistance causes problems, such as heat build-up or increased pressure.
Emotions are “of the moment,” immediate, and have no memory.
There are many more.
For a more thorough discussion, please read my forthcoming book, Emotions in Motion. More information can be found on my website.
I hope this short list gives you the idea relevant to our conversation, that emotions cannot be discarded, need to move, grow in power when we don’t let them move, just “are,” and will appear in time as connected energy instead of sequential events, and they respond to resistance, such as us attempting to bury them, push them away, or hold onto them when we feel upset.
If that’s not what we want to do with emotions, what DO we want to do with them?
Knowing emotions are energy, it’s clear we want to help them keep moving! How do we do that?
- Look for them, find them in our body.
- Allow their expression—let ourselves feel
- Give as much time as the emotions need for full release.
- Refrain from evaluating the emotion. (no “bad” or “good” emotions!).
- Know & identify the message of different emotions (anger, hurt, fear).
- Determine the best ways to use that message to navigate your life.
- Navigate your life (to the best of your ability) as emotions suggest.
- Look for the “larger lesson” in the experience paired with the emotion.
- Create your intention to learn that larger lesson.
- Do what it takes to learn the lesson.
- Savor and enjoy “lesson learned” and the freedom that accompanies it.
- Be Grateful to the emotion and to yourself.
- Move on.
Does this seem like a long list to you? I’ve mentioned every little step, so you know just what to do. After you follow the steps for a while, they can become so easy you’ll go through them quickly. It’s a lot like learning to drive a car—at first nearly overwhelming, becoming a practiced habit.
In my next blog, I’ll share with you some of the messages that emotions are attempting to pass on to us. For now, it’s Find them, Feel Them, Accept Them, Give them Time, and Make no Judgments.
The only “negative emotions,” it turns out, are emotions held inside of us, over time. That’s when anger builds to rage, hurt builds to withdrawal, or jealousy provokes revenge. Anger, hurt, and jealousy, in themselves, are neutral; just messengers!
Another important piece about emotions is that they occur in the moment.
Even if we return in our mind to an angering incident in our past, the anger we experience is in the present time! Interestingly, the principle is this: The only time we have power is in the present; the only person we have power over is ourselves. In other words, emotions are perfectly suited to assist us in empowering ourselves.
We tend to think of emotions as an indication of weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Because they occur in the present and must be worked with, in the present, they help us build power in ourselves. Furthermore, working with emotions is not for the faint of heart, because they cause us to face facts in real time that we usually prefer to ignore or not face. Emotions and emotional work demand courage!
Remember: when we work with emotions, we are at our most powerful.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series on April 7th!
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Ilene Dillon, MSW, has dedicated her life to helping people resolve personal challenges once and for all, then design life to be what they want it to be. A Transformation Specialist, she has worked 50 years as a psychotherapist and 15 years as a coach. She is a global speaker, Amazon International Best-selling author (The Wellness Universe Guide to Complete Self-Care, Volumes 1 and 2), podcast guest, and plans to give her first TEDx speech (on Anger) later this year. Ilene is also the author of Emotions in Motion: Mastering Life’s Built-in Navigation System and End Manipulation: Stop Being Jerked Around by Toxic, Energy-draining People. With her little dog, Pi, Ilene lives and travels full-time throughout North America in her RV, writing, teaching, and speaking along the way.