"I regret it when I suppress my feelings too long and they burst forth in ways that are distorted or attacking or hurtful."
So it turns out I’m a therapist who wants to talk about your feelings. I know that makes me a walking, talking stereotype, but I’ve made peace with that. Another thing I’ve made peace with is the full spectrum of our emotional life.
You see, as humans, we tend to relish in our positive feelings and tend to avoid the negative ones. Although this may work for a short time, continuing to avoid your less favorable feels can have dire consequences.
Let’s consider a quick example.
Have you ever been around a 3 year old that wants your attention? If you have, you are well aware of the tenacity of a young child who is in need of attention. If you ignore the child, what does the child do? Do they just give up and walk away never to be seen again? NO! The child gets louder, more insistent, more demanding, and so on. Your feelings are like the 3 year old. ALL of your feelings want your attention. They want your acknowledgement. When you give credence to happiness, joy, and excitement, but completely ignore and repress sadness, anger, and loneliness there is a price to pay.
Consider this: Have you ever been doing something and just snapped or lost your cool because of something small and rather insignificant? Chances are that prior to that moment, there were other negative feelings that came up and were ignored until that last straw and...kablooey!
Are you wondering what you can do to prevent this? Do you ever feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to handle your feelings? Don't worry, you are definitely not the only one. As a matter of fact, I find that most of us feel out of our depths when it comes to our emotions.
So, here's a helpful exercise...
I call this one riding the wave. The next time you feel a negative or uncomfortable feeling rising in you, lean in. Get quiet and still. Simply take a deep breath in, allowing the feeling to be there, then exhale fully and slowly, and accept your feeling as true. Now take one more deep breath, again letting the feeling be, and as you exhale slowly and fully release the feeling with your breath. Lather, rinse, repeat as necessary. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how simple, but powerful this can be.
Maritza Barrera, LMFT, CCH, QS
Maritza is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, and Qualified supervisor. If you enjoy her post, please like, share, comment, or whatever form of digital gratitude you prefer.