Do you sometimes feel like you’re at the end of your rope? Do you sometimes lose patience with your kids and yell and then feel badly?
It’s normal to feel different levels of emotional distress or pain in response to everyday experiences. It’s normal to feel sad when you lose something important to you or to feel despair when you lose someone important to you or to feel angry when something is taken away from you or to feel afraid when you face the unknown.
As we learn and grow, most of us develop the skills to tolerate emotional distress until it passes. But sometimes strong emotions can feel like they’re sweeping you away!
You can learn a lot about yourself from your strong emotions.
Being mindful of your inner experiences and not judging yourself is the first step to being able to create inner space to develop different behaviors and reactions.
Developing emotional intelligence and not avoiding feelings, but being able to feel, identify, label and accept emotionalism is a precursor to learning new emotional skills.
And developing emotional skills is the same as developing all skills: identify the skill you want to learn, learn the new skill, consciously practice and apply the skill and eventually your new emotional skills will generalize to your life, meaning that you’ll be able to use them under stress.
Instead of judging yourself when you’re emotionally reactive, and bringing up even more painful feelings, such as shame, try checking in with yourself.
Take a step back and check in how the emotion lives in your body and mind.
Take inventory and ask yourself:
- Where is the pain in your body? How can you reduce the body tension?
- Pay attention to your internal dialogue. Too critical? Call upon a wiser and more compassionate part of yourself.
- Pay attention to your internal language. What are you saying, and how are you saying it to yourself?
- Pay attention to your behavior. Are you screaming, crying, shaking?
- BE non-judgmental of your emotional state.
- The less you struggle with your primary emotion, and the more mindful and accepting of your emotional state that you are, the more you will be able to reduce the acute painful feelings, and self-soothe.
So remember pain and distress are part of life, the inability to tolerate emotional distress just leads to more pain in the form of guilt, shame, low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness.
Stay tuned for the next article, Six Emotional Skills to Increase Self-Esteem
If you feel you need some help in feeling emotionally balanced and increasing positive feelings, in my counseling practice in Wayne , and in my online work, I’m available to help you navigate your life issues and help you find a comfortable mix of mindful self-care and professional help. Please feel free to email or call me.