How to deal with strong emotions
How to deal with strong emotions is a little bit of a strange topic for a Plastic surgeon to talk about. So why am I devoting a entire blog post to the topic of emotions?
My goal in life is to live my best life possible, and to help other women do the same.
Over the past four years I’ve accomplished a lot. My husband and I paid off all our consumer debt and student loans. I lost 50 pounds. And I’ve been working on growing my practice. I’ve done this with the help of numerous books and podcasts, and even a life coach. I love talking about some of the techniques I’ve learned (to the point where I’m starting a Podcast, which will go live at the end of May, 2018. If you’re reading this post after June 2018, you can check out the podcast here.) Learning to deal with emotions is one of the key tools I’ve learned, and I want to share that here.
What is an emotion?
I’ve commonly heard the terms emotion and feeling used interchangeably. A little internet research told me that there isn’t a real consensus definition. And there are multiple theories regarding what emotions are, and what creates them. So I’m going to share with you the model of emotions that I learned from the Life Coaching world:
An emotion is a vibration you feel in your body which is created by your mind.
So it’s a physical sensation, that is caused by your mind. Or more precisely, emotions are created by your thoughts.
You have control over your emotions.
Emotions are created in response to your thoughts. And you have quite a bit of control over what thoughts you think. Which means you have some degree of control over your emotions. In fact, even just being aware of your emotions on a conscious level can significantly change the way you experience an emotion. Often what we interpret as a physical sensation is actually an emotion. So you may interpret hollowness in your stomach as being hungry, even though you’re actually bored but not consciously aware of the emotion.
How do we deal with emotions?
Resisting the emotion is a very common response. We may try to suppress the emotion or distract ourselves from feeling it. In the self-help world this is called buffering. Examples of buffering include shopping, drinking alcohol, gambling, eating, working to avoid feeling the emotion. None of these behaviors are intrinsically bad, but when they are used to avoid experiencing our emotions, the net result is negative.
Experiencing the emotion is something many people are terrible at. But being consciously aware of your emotions allows you to fully enjoy the positive emotions while moving through the negative emotions more quickly. Buffering emotions, on the other hand, keeps you from processing those negative emotions (and from being fully aware of the positive emotions). The negative emotions don’t go away; you’re just avoiding them.
How do you experience an emotion?
- Try to name the emotion. This will bring conscious awareness to the emotion.
- Do a thought download. Write down your stream-of-consciousness (i.e. every thought that pops into your head) for 3-5 minutes. This will help you to access the thoughts that aren’t conscious, but that are affecting the way you feel.
- Take some time out to process. Often we try to avoid thinking, because we’re trying to avoid the emotion. Writing in a journal or taking some quiet time to yourself allows you to be mentally present.
Emotions can’t hurt you.
We are often terrified of feeling emotions. Which is interesting, if you think about it. If you knew you would have to feel terrified for five minutes, but nothing bad would happen to you, you could do that, right? After all, an emotion is just a vibration in your body. It can’t actually hurt you.
PS: Ever considered yourself to be an emotional eater? Take my quiz to find out today and then sign-up for my challenge. Learn how to get rid of emotional eating for good!
Dr. Greer is a Plastic Surgeon who practices in Cleveland, OH. Her passion is helping moms regain self-confidence by getting rid of sagginess, wrinkles, and stubborn fat. Read more about her at www.greerplastics.com.