How do you handle powerful emotions that hit you in such a visceral way that they wind up immobilizing you? It can happen to anyone at any time for a variety of reasons, so it’s a good idea to understand what to do when it occurs.
Say you’re waiting on a long line at the grocery store, and the clerk at the register is moving slower than molasses, and stops to chat with each customer. By the time they get to you, it’s all you can do not to chew them out for wasting your time. The anxiety builds in you until you just want to scream.
Or a friend was supposed to meet you at a restaurant for dinner, and she’s already 45 minutes late. You can’t reach her on her cell phone, and you’re worried she may have been in an accident. But when she arrives, she breezily shrugs off her extreme tardiness by saying, “Sorry I’m late – I’m starved, let’s eat.” You’re so upset and hurt that she brushed off your feelings, that you’ve lost your appetite for food – and maybe her company.
Or you’ve missed winning the long-distance race that you’ve been training for over the last year by just a few minutes. You’re filled with envy when the winner is rewarded with their medal, and you find yourself holding back the disappointment – and even some tears.
Change emotional channels
So how do you keep your emotions from running away from you? It’s difficult to keep a lid on emotions once they’ve built up into a bubbling cauldron of fury, anxiety, or despair. If you find another outlet for these extreme feelings, you’ll be better for it.
Even better is what you’ll discover about yourself once you use these new outlets. Pour your emotional energy into a passion. It could be an existing interest, or maybe something new that you’ve always wanted to try.
For example, every time you feel an overwhelming emotion building, subdue the feelings until you can get home… and then go to your garden. Prune and plant and nourish your plants and flowers as you mull over what’s just occurred, and consider your solutions. In the process, you may also discover that you’ve overreacted to the situation. You’ll find yourself calmer once you’ve finished your task and looked back at your work to discover a beautiful garden that resulted from your re-directed emotions.
The same holds true for other passions. Do you like working out? Go to the gym and take a high-energy class – spinning or dance or kickboxing. The endorphins that will kick in as you reach your workout zone will make you feel physically stronger, physiologically sound, and mentally healed. Your earlier emotional issues? Old news. As you leave your workout you’ll feel a sense of relief and newfound balance.
Use creative outlets
Perhaps you like to paint or play the piano. An observer can always determine the emotion of an artist by the sort of piece they create. Swift, harsh brush strokes were likely created out of anger, whereas gentle, detailed painting was done in a state of calm and focus. In music, presto-forte pieces are most certainly a result of some roiling emotions, but once they’re released into the atmosphere as fast-paced, loud rhythms, the musician has worked out their feelings.
It’s really a beautiful concept, when you think about it: you’re taking a negative emotion and turning it into something exceedingly positive.
Just remember to tell yourself, “I will deal with this calmly now, and in my own special way later.” And then do so – and reap the benefits!
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