Most of us have been in the midst of very strong, overwhelming feelings, which seem to shake us, which make us feel like we are on a roller coaster ride. Sometimes these experiences can be so intense, we long for a break from these feelings, trying to catch a glimpse of more rational thoughts.
There are numerous techniques which can help us to process strong feelings, which result in ultimately letting them go. It’s useful to become aware of the more vulnerable feelings you experience below anger or frustration. Try these steps to process your vulnerable feelings.
1. Recognise the feeling
When a strong feeling comes up, find time (then or later) to sit in a calm place and breathe slowly. Close your eyes and let yourself really feel the emotion. This may be quite painful to do. Notice what part of your body feels the emotion. For example, your shoulders may be stiff or your face muscles tight. Is there a colour or image you can attach to the feeling? It may seem sharp and red, or dull and dark like a big boulder. Give the name a feeling, for example - sadness.
2. Express the feeling in words
Say aloud to yourself (or to another, trusted person), “I’m feeling …” You might say, “I’m feeling sad about the divorce.” Or it might be “I’m scared about what will happen with the children,” or “I feel powerless to stop the conflict with my ex.”
3. Clarify the feeling
Still sitting calmly, wait to see what else comes up for you as you reflect on this feeling. What are some more parts of this feeling? As well as sadness, you might feel some guilt for having left a relationship, or for being the one left behind: “It’s crazy, but I feel guilty because he/she left me. That’s very confusing.”
4. Find links with past experiences or feelings
Ask yourself, “When did I first have a feeling like this?” Your anger might be protecting you from a deeper, vulnerable emotion such as rejection or abandonment. You might trace this back to the past. “I felt the same way when my own parents fought.” Let yourself feel the whole of this experience. Don’t analyse, just get a sense of it all. Is there a name for ‘all of that’?
5. Accept the feeling
Feelings are not good or bad; they just are. Remember that feelings are not facts. And they are not the same things as actions. You can let yourself feel whatever you do feel, then you can still decide what you choose to DO. You might ask yourself, “What would it feel like if it was all okay? What’s in the way of that? What’s in the way of feeling good, for me?”
-- Denise Reichenbach is an Educator and Counsellor with Relationships Australia Queensland, and runs regular courses.--
Denise's upcoming courses at our Spring Hill venue are:
STEPFAMILY REALITIES: Tuesdays, 7 Oct-11 Nov
RELATIONSHIP MATTERS: Wednesdays, 15 Oct-19 Nov
BUILDING BETTER RELATIONSHIPS: Mondays, 13 Oct-17 Nov