Do you hate feeling emotional? Do you get embarrassed about it like I do?
The best thing we can do is accept all of our emotions for what they are, even though they can really suck sometimes. This post will show you why we should embrace it when we’re feeling emotional along with some practical tips for accepting and facing negative emotions.
Why I’m Feeling Emotional
I’m a sensitive gal, and I’m really quite embarrassed by it. I cry easily, like at the Derek and Julianne Hough dance tour, or at my bridal shower (not even the actual wedding day, but the bridal shower), or in the new Beauty and the Beast movie. My face gets puffy and I can’t talk – it’s so embarrassing.
And those are just the positive emotions.
Not only am I sensitive to emotions, but I’m obviously quite sensitive to stress. And while life is exciting right now, there’s a great deal of stress associated with all that’s going on (I’ll explain in this week’s TGIF post!). So when I broke down crying at the kitchen table recently, I couldn’t explain it. I just felt off.
Apparently, “highly sensitive people” is a thing to the psych world, and 20 percent of the population are characterized by this term. It isn’t a disorder or a flaw, but simply an innate trait among people. While everyone’s experiences are different, those classified as highly sensitive people have a sensitive nervous system that makes it harder to filter out stimuli and easier to get overwhelmed by their environment.
Sounds about right for me, remembering how easily I started crying when Kyle asked me what furniture in our house we should sell and what we should keep. Furniture is overwhelming, guys!
Thankfully, Kyle serves as my free therapist and can surprisingly handle my emotional meltdowns pretty well. (Seriously, love, consider being a life coach!) He helped me get past the “furniture” to the root of my emotions. His advice at the time was far from what I expected or wanted to accept, but, as usual, it made perfect sense.
Annoying, right? There was nothing about my puffy, swollen eyes and unexplained tears that I wanted to embrace.
But he helped me see the reality of the situation. While I’m excited about everything that’s going on, it’s still a major life change. My business and me are in a vulnerable spot, and there are a lot of feelings associated with that.
Feeling emotional is part of life, my wise husband said. And he’s right. I try so hard to shut down those expressive emotions because I get so easily worked up, but if we don’t let ourselves feel and experience the highs and lows of life, what’s the point?
He then reminded me that the times I cry in front of other people are the times he’s loved me most because he sees that I am genuine. Which brings me to another realization – every speech, movie, song, book, card, etc. that I love or have been affected by is because of the composer’s strong emotion behind it. Emotion is what causes change, causes people to take action.
I’m a writer. I’ve got to have emotion to be any good at my job. Why not embrace when I’m feeling emotional and go write it all down?!
Even if you’re not in the creative field, there’s plenty of reasons to embrace the times when you’re feeling emotional. It’s easy to want to avoid facing negative emotions, those that bring us tears, but doing so will only screw us up for the long run.
The Importance of Facing Negative Emotions
We hear all around from books, podcasts and articles how we’re in control of our thoughts, and we need to think happy and positive thoughts to be confident and successful. Knowing that we have control over our thoughts can lead us to get upset with ourselves when we’re feeling down, because – according to the amazing people we follow – we should be able to control this. Why can’t we just be happy? Why is it so hard?
Feeling sad, doubtful or negative is not necessarily a bad thing, and I so often forget this. Emotions are simply information. They tell us what’s going on within us and around us.
But our rational thoughts can make sense of these emotions. Based on our knowledge, values, goals and experiences, we can evaluate these emotions and decide what to do with them. Negative emotions are a normal part of life that we have to experience and work through.
Avoiding emotions and finding the quick fix doesn’t do any good. Here’s why:
For anything you want to achieve in life, you’re going to have to overcome obstacles that will undoubtedly bring you pain. If you’re unwilling to overcome those challenges, to face those emotions, you limit yourself to the walls of your comfort. The more you avoid it, the weaker you become and less able to experience life.
Without facing negative emotions, you develop a fear of any situation that may cause the emotion to arise. You deny the truth of the situation, which doesn’t solve any of the problems caused by it. Finally, you lengthen the anticipatory period, bringing anxiety to its brink and dreaming up every negative possibility.
When we fight the pain, we actually trigger other painful emotions, prolonging our initial emotional pain. By facing negative emotions we can prevent further emotional pain. This means sitting with our emotions, not judging, fighting or resisting them in any way.
What Does Facing Negative Emotions Look Like?
Sitting with it when you’re feeling emotional doesn’t exactly take the pain away, but simply letting yourself feel bad can prevent further negative emotions from creeping up on your existing pain. Here are a few tips for sitting with your emotions:
- Listen to your emotions. Hear what they’re telling you and understand why you’re feeling emotional. Don’t try to do anything with this information just yet; simply try to understand what’s making you feel this way.
- Accept the emotion for what it is. Instead of feeling guilty for what you’re experiencing, understand that there is a valid reason. It may be something silly or even something simple to work through, but first you need to accept whatever trigger brought you to this feeling.
- Note what the emotion actually means for you in the present. How does this feeling affect what you need to do in this moment? Examine the true consequences of the situation and how it relates to the task at hand. Surely, you can keep driving through traffic or cleaning the dishes no matter what the result of the situation is. Notice how much lighter it seems now?
I like to use writing to help me understand and accept these emotions. Forming written words out of my feelings helps me validate them and figure out ways to move through them.
Accepting and facing negative emotions eventually lessens the blow when you’re feeling emotional. You become better able to recognize, accept and work through the emotions again in the future.
Tip: As I’ve been feeling emotional lately, I’ve been getting a lot of use out of this essential oil blend. I apply it to my wrists frequently throughout the day. I notice that it helps relax me so I can further sit with, understand and accept my emotions.
Facing negative emotions isn’t easy, but you shouldn’t feel guilt or shame when they creep up. Next time you’re feeling emotional – whether happy or sad – treat yourself by sitting with your emotions. See what you learn about yourself and how you can embrace this sensitivity.
Are you emotional or highly sensitive? What gets your emotions worked up, and how do you react to those situations? Leave a comment and let’s chat!
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