Growing up, I was allowed to express only a few emotions. “Happy” was the preferred emotion in my house, but “sad” was permitted for a short time if I had a good reason. “Angry” was never allowed. For any reason. As an adult trying to unknot all of the issues in my life, I thought it was odd that I didn’t realize there was an entire range of emotions, both good and bad, but I’ve learned over the last year or so that my experience was fairly common.
Unfortunately, not being allowed to feel the range of emotions we are given means we have to do something else with them. For me, I stuffed them down with food. I have friends who use wine not to feel; some people use drugs. The fact is that our bodies and minds were created to experience emotions, both good and bad, and we have crippled ourselves by trying to eliminate the negative ones from our lives.
What if instead of trying to rid ourselves of negative emotion, we learned to process those emotions and experience them? What if we taught our children how to process an emotion as part of being whole? The truth is that negative emotions are certainly uncomfortable, but they are not as scary as we’ve imagined them to be. Allowing an emotion and being present with it is surprisingly freeing.
So how do you process an emotion? It’s pretty simple.