Leadership, Personal Growth

Accepting and Acknowledging Feelings – Key to Peace of Mind and Health

Acknowledging and managing powerful feelings can be challenging, especially when you are going through a lot at once. Sometimes, it may seem like you have only two options to avoid being overwhelmed.

One option is to express your feelings in an immediate and visceral way. The other option is to deny your feelings and bury them in your body. When you deny and bury your feelings they will morph into unconscious anger or self-hatred.

Many people make the second choice. The truth is that there are many positive ways to deal with your feelings. Experiencing and expressing negative feelings does not need to constitute a negative outcome. Denying your feelings is not only unhealthy for the mind, body and spirit, it may also rob you of valuable information that you could learn about yourself and your life.

Burying your feelings can impede your short-term memory as well as feelings of joy. Acknowledging your feelings can help you better understand yourself and help you recover naturally from change, anger, stress, guilt, shame and sadness. If you have difficulty facing your feelings head on during times of emotional distress, you may want to explore ways to express them.

Instead of denying or burying your feelings-take a deep breath to give your brain extra oxygen. People tend to shallow breathe in times of distress. The heart rate goes up in an attempt to get more oxygen to the brain, which then is experienced as something horrible taking place. Even my heart is racing-you think, causing you to go into a reactionary cycle. Taking a deep breath brings oxygen to the brain, slows down your thoughts and stops the escalation of the autonomic system. When your mind and body are working together you can think clearly and decide the best course of action.

Writing about your feelings as a way to sort out what you experienced and what to do next is very powerful and empowering. This process may take time, but, in the end it is preferable to acting out or burying your feelings. Label your feelings in simple words-such as: ‘livid,’ ‘rage,’ ‘angry’, ‘mad,’ ‘sad,’ ‘hurt,’ ‘afraid,’ etc.

Expressing your thoughts to family or friends can be helpful. Although, sometimes family/friends have their opinions, such as: “Just get over it and move on.” Remember you are under no obligation to act on their suggestions. Expressing your thoughts to someone is the key to hearing yourself and avoiding burying or acting out the feelings.

Funneling your feelings into a creative outlet-exercise-walking, etc, or chores will help dissipate the emotional charge so that you avoid acting out or burying your feelings.

Simply accepting, acknowledging and speaking your feelings out loud to yourself can be a healing release. In releasing intense emotions, it is most beneficial to acknowledge the feelings, allow yourself to feel them, and let the feelings go. Those who experience and release their feelings without judgment also experience less stress.

While burying negative or uncomfortable feelings can numb the pain, it also may dull your ability to experience your positive and pleasurable feelings. You may become afraid to open up in the future for fear of getting hurt. The feelings you deny are not limited to negative feelings. Suppressing your happiness or excitement can be as unhealthy. In learning how to express your intense feelings in a healthy way, you are giving yourself the freedom to fully experience who you truly are.

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