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.

How To Build Trust With Yourself

Do you trust yourself? Most people will answer YES to this question (especially when they feel good); however, their behavior tells a different story. Look at the commitments you make to yourself. Do you keep them? I’m not talking about big commitments I’m talking about the little things day-to-day—diet; exercise; getting up when the alarm goes off without snoozing; doing chores; making plans when you feel good but then cancelling them when the time arrives.

Each time we make a commitment, even mentally, and then don’t follow through, we are programming our brain that we cannot trust ourselves/we’re not the kind of person who follows through or commit. Why is this such a problem? If we teach ourselves that we cannot be trusted with our best interests, we start to seek validation and confirmation from outside of ourselves. It may seem innocent enough, but this starts when we are young. We are taught that someone else causes our feelings. We are taught that we cannot be sufficient by ourselves. We are taught that other people know better than we do. We are taught to give our power away to others.

But the reality is, we are responsible for all our thoughts, feelings, actions, and results. We can choose not to take responsibility, but ultimately that just leads to a life of hopelessness and powerlessness. Imagine how your life would be different if you trusted yourself and took full responsibility for everything in your life? If everything was your fault, what would stay the same and what would change? What would you accomplish? What would you cut out?

When we trust ourselves and take full responsibility for our lives, we can literally create a full life where we can make anything we want to happen. I know this may sound too good to be true; but remember, not everyone wants to accomplish the same things. You get to decide for you. Here are a few things you can start doing right now to help you reprogram your brain so you can start trusting yourself again:

1. Make conscious choices
– It can be the smallest or mundane thing, such as brushing your teeth or having a glass of water. When you go to do it, remind yourself that you are making a conscious choice to do so and follow through.

2. Wake up on time
– Don’t hit the snooze button. Set the alarm at the time you want to get up, and then get up.

3. Remind yourself that at one time you wanted to do this
– We make plans and then the time comes, and we don’t want to do what we had planned. It’s totally normal. Sticking with the example of hitting the snooze button, remind yourself the night before that when the alarm goes off, you won’t want to get up but you’re going to anyways. Expect that you won’t want to do it and be okay with feeling that and moving forward anyway.

4. Courtesy of Mel Robbins–The 5 Second Rule
– When you don’t want to do something you have planned, count down from five to one. When you get to one, get up and do it. This psychologically helps the brain prepare for what is coming.

Trusting ourselves is a choice and a skill. It is something we should practice every day. Bettering this skill will literally start to change your life. If you’re ready to start building this skill and take control of your life, schedule your free session with me. I can help you.

Resisting Emotions

In almost all my client sessions this past week we have discussed resisting emotion and how the ego plays a role. We often think of the world as black and white, right or wrong, good or bad. This is a big reason we resist feeling a negative emotion—such as shame, guilt, insecurity, etc. What really happens is that we judge the emotions we don’t want to feel—it usually sounds like “I don’t want to feel this way” or “I shouldn’t feel like this” or “it’s stupid that I feel _____.”

What I want to offer you is that what we resist, persists. I first heard that phrase from a good friend who has helped me on my spiritual awakening journey several years ago and it has held true. What would happen if we didn’t judge our negative emotions? For starters, stress and burnout would absolutely not be as intense as they are. None of our negative emotions would be as intense as they are! That alone leaves you with more physical energy and mental capacity to live a more fulfilled life where you can truly connect with others, actively pursue your passions, and become authentic in every aspect of your life.

Typically, when we resist emotions, it revolves around our egos. If you’re familiar with the yin/yang concept from our eastern friends, everything has both light and darkness within it. We as humans are perfect examples of this (look at our politics, religions, entertainment, etc.). But one thing I love about the yin/yang concept is that there is always a little of each no matter whether you’re more yin or more yang. It’s balance.

If we take this concept and apply it to ourselves, what if the same principle applies to our egos? There is healthy egotism (confidence, philanthropy, etc.) and non-healthy egotism (overconfident, wants the spotlight for selfish gain, and judgement). Applied, this means that there isn’t a right or wrong (non-healthy ego), just action and consequence (healthy ego). When we switch our thinking to action and consequence vs right and wrong, the judgement of our emotions decreases significantly! Action and consequence are neutral whereas right and wrong are usually emotionally charged.

Helping decrease the intensity of the emotion will put you on the path to allowing it vs resisting it. Now it’s time to learn how to process the emotion. The next time you feel an intense negative emotion, follow these steps:

  1. Close your eyes and take a deep breath and slowly release (repeat 3-5 times depending on intensity)
  2. Give the emotion a name (stick to just one emotion)
  3. Where do you feel that emotion in your body?
  4. What does it look like? (color, texture, movement pattern, etc.)
  5. Continue to visualize it and try to separate the emotion from yourself so you are just the observer.
  6. Start talking to it (yes, this may sound crazy; but trust me, it works!) and ask why it’s there and how you can help move it along in processing it.
  7. This may be a short internal convo or may take longer—no matter the time it takes, keep going)
  8. As you continue that internal conversation, visualize the emotion transforming or flowing through and out your body. You may feel some physical sensations as you do this—that’s completely normal.
  9. Take another deep breath in and slowly release.
  10. Check-in with yourself. What did you learn? How could this processing experience help you gain more clarity
  11. BONUS: You can do this with a positive emotion as well to learn how to better create helpful emotions that drive you towards your goals.

A word of caution: since we know that our emotions are created by our thoughts, don’t try to change your thought when you have an intense emotion just so you can feel better. It will compound and the ego will double down on its judgement. This exercise is meant to help you allow and process the emotion so you can get to the place of creating your intentional thought/emotion.

I recently did this exercise with a client, and she described her emotion as swirling blackhole pulling her down to rock bottom. I asked her if she could see the bottom and she couldn’t. So, I offered to her that maybe there isn’t a bottom. As infinite beings made of star dust and all that, there is not ceiling to our potential, so why would there be a bottom? I then asked her to surrender and visualize herself floating in the ‘eye of the storm’ like she was in water. Then I asked her to then imagine herself floating upwards because she was the one in control, not the blackhole storm of emotion. She pulled herself out and felt SO MUCH BETTER! It was at this point; we could then talk about what she wanted to create for herself. It was an amazing session!

I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic of resisting/allowing emotions, right/wrong vs action/consequence, or anything else post related. If this is something you need help with, don’t hesitate to reach out to me on my socials, email, or through my website. Also, please let your friends and family know about this exclusive blog/newsletter–especially if they are a leader over a team (corporate, entrepreneurial, community, etc. who are stressed and/or dealing with burnout. When they subscribe through my website, I will send them 5 Reasons Why Leaders Experience Burnout and How to Fix Them for FREE.

Have a great week and I’ll see you in your inbox next Saturday 😊