10 Pointers for Dealing With Emotions

Finding yourself easily irritated with people you care about?  Noticing that your emotions are much closer to the surface of your awareness than they usually are?  You’re not alone.

Here’s what I recommend:

  1. Don’t panic.
  2. Regardless of how it feels, understand that your emotions are your friends.
  3. Breathe through the emotion (don’t act on it) and make a pledge to yourself that you will take some time to explore this emotion very soon.
  4. Keep your pledge. Make it a priority.  It is.
  5. When it’s possible, sit down in a quiet place with a journal and write it out. Chances are, the up-welling of emotion is telling you about an unmet need or a wound from the past.  Either way, naming your emotion, identifying what it’s telling you about your needs and/or making connections between the present and some past hurt or shock will go a long way in helping you to hold up your end in important relationships, and stay in integrity with yourself.
  6. After you have taken this time with yourself you will be more clear on what you need, what you are and aren’t willing to tolerate or settle for, and you may now be in a position to share what you have learned with the person you were interacting with when the emotion surfaced.
  7. Keep your eye on the prize. In your heart of hearts, what do you really want here?
  8. Remember that the other person is not responsible for the emotion. They may or may not need to know about the effect they had on you.  What you share is entirely up to you.
  9. If you want or need something that another person may be able to give you, ask them, remembering that a true request may be answered with a yes or a no. Be prepared for either.  Your desire or need is still valid whether that person can help you or not.  You may need to ask more than one person to help you meet important needs.  The process of asking helps you get clearer about what it is you are actually wanting and needing.  There is no shame in asking or receiving a no or a lukewarm yes.
  10. Often what you need is completely available to you without anyone else’s help. Take these steps for yourself and it may just be the first time in your memory that anyone has demonstrated to you that you are important and interesting enough for their time and attention.  Bringing curiosity and calm to the situation increases the odds that you will successfully find words to describe your experience in a kind and non-judgmental way, which is generally all that is needed to process an intense emotion.  Each time you do it your ability to use your emotions to inform and guide you will strengthen.

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