How To Process Emotions–Especially Negative Ones
Over the last couple weeks, I’ve been doing a LOT of coaching on how to process emotions. It all starts out the same way—someone doesn’t like how they are feeling or thinking and want to change it. Innocent enough, right? Who doesn’t want to feel or think better!? But what they don’t see is how they are resisting the negative emotion.
What does it mean to resist an emotion? To put it simply, it is not liking how you feel and trying to change it—whether by taking physical or mental action. The problem when we resist an emotion is, it compounds upon itself—like the snowball effect. By us trying to change how we feel, we end up intensifying the very emotion we are trying to rid ourselves of. This is where the skill of allowing, and processing emotion comes into play.
In order to process an emotion, it really is a matter of diving into the wave rather than trying to dive or get away from the wave. In order to process an emotion, we need to be willing to feel it—not just acknowledge it’s existence, but truly feel it.
Remember, emotions are just a vibration in the body—they can’t physically hurt us. The worst thing that can happen is an emotion. This is part of why emotion drives all of our actions which create our results. The below exercise is one of the best ways I have learned to process an emotion. It will help you feel the emotion, but also help you come from a more observer point of view.
How to process an emotion:
1. Close your eyes and turn your consciousness inward
2. Visualize where the emotion is in your body
3. Describe the emotion in as much detail as possible
—Name the emotion (e.g., grief, shame, etc.)
—What color is it?
—What’s it’s texture? (e.g., smooth, hard, like tar, spikey, etc.)
—Is it moving or stationary? If moving, is it fast or slow?
—When you focus on it, does it change?
4. When you feel the intensity lesson, try introducing a new emotion to it (e.g., forgiveness, compassion, etc.) to see how they interact (stay in the descriptive mindset and repeat step 3 with the newly introduced emotion)
Some people, when they do this exercise, have experienced the negative emotion shrink. Some choose to bring in a higher power of their choosing to help clear away the intense negative emotion after feeling it. Do whatever feels right for you—there is not a right or wrong way to do this exercise.
There may also be times when the emotion doesn’t go away completely. That’s totally normal and okay. Let’s use shame for example. We’ve all probably done things we have shame around. I had one of the most incredible coaching sessions recently where one of my coaches coached me around shame. One thing she mentioned really resonated with me: what if you can forgive yourself and still feel a little shame as if it will never fully go away? This question was so profound to me. In talking with her about it, I realized I don’t want to fully release shame around this area. Sometimes a negative emotion is held onto because it still serves us in some way.
I share this experience with you because I want to show you that negative emotions aren’t bad. They serve a purpose, just like positive emotions (p.s. you can do the exercise above with positive emotions as well—it’s an amazing experience!).
If you are struggling with intense emotions, I can help. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me or schedule a free call.
Additionally, I would love to hear your thoughts about these blog posts—are they helpful? What are you taking away from them? What do you want to learn more about? Etc. Leave a comment or message me directly. I want to make sure I’m always providing value—yes, even with my free content—because this work is life changing and I believe everyone deserves what coaching has to offer.