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.

Listening to Yourself

Some say people who talk to themselves are crazy. I completely disagree. I think people who talk to themselves are smart. Why? Because this is how you get the opportunity to challenge unhelpful beliefs.

I’m not a huge fan of social media. It takes away time with the endless scroll. I love seeing what people are up to, but most of the time I’m so locked into the scroll of “what’s next” I don’t interact much. And I find myself having less and less desire to post.

But those who know about starting a business, social media networking can be a HUGE component to business strategy in providing value to customers ahead of time. For the last few weeks, I’ve been torn between two opposing concepts—being authentic and doing something even though it doesn’t feel good. I’m a fan of both those concepts, but it led me into a lot of decision fatigue.

I decided to bring the situation to one of my coaches to get coaching. The conversation led me to a few A-HA! moments:
(1) The path looks different for everyone (aka there really isn’t a right way to do something vs a wrong way);
(2) My focus needs to come back to my strengths;
(3) It’s not only important to talk to yourself but take the time to listen;
(4) I’m already doing a lot of things besides social media;
(5) I stopped trusting myself.

Because my focus was on finding the “right way” and how that went against my strengths, I wasn’t open to really listening to my own inner wisdom. Social Media isn’t my only platform to provide value to people—I have my podcast, this blog, one-on-one conversations, group meetups and coffee dates. Sure, there are things I can tweak to make better and ultimately create a bigger impact, but that doesn’t mean all of that work and connection has gone to waste.

After the coaching session, I sat and just listened at the thoughts running through my head. It was amazing to me how much more open my mind was to ideas and solutions. My self-talk became more positive, and I felt a spark reignite within myself as I remembered that I really can trust myself.

The next time you’re having a hard time making a decision or feel torn, I invite you to write out the thoughts going through your mind to get them out, and then taking a few minutes to listen—whether you believe it’s your higher self, Universe, or God(s) of your choosing—just listen. Listen with an open heart and see what thoughts start to run through your mind. Look for trends or patterns as they can give you even more insight as single thoughts turn into ideas, ideas turn into beliefs, and beliefs turn into results.

Do this without asking other people for their opinions or thoughts. Learn to trust yourself before you get results (this is what keeps you going), so that when you do get the desired result it’s just more evidence of that self-trust. It all starts with listening to yourself.  

100% Happy?

Who started the idea that the goal of life is to be happy 100% of the time? Whoever it was, needs a loving smack on the head. Yes, this thought, or concept is perpetuated through all forms of media, but it’s not realistic. Anyone who has ever chased after the goal of 100% happy always ends up disappointed.

Why is this the case? Well, it comes down to us not really wanting to be happy all the time. An example I like to use is when a loved one passes away–is this something you want to be happy about? Some will say yes “because they’re in a better place” or “they’re out of pain.” Both of those things may be true and may provide some comfort, but it doesn’t really bring you happiness about the passing. When someone we love passes, it can feel terrible! Grief, sadness, longing, fear, etc.

I bring up this example because I really want to reiterate that the goal of life is not to be 100% happy; but rather embrace the human experience of 50/50. 50% of the time, you will feel positive emotions–joy, elation, love, contentment, etc. 50% of the time, you’ll feel negative–fear, doubt, loneliness, etc.

When we accept the 50/50 concept, it’s a life changer! The more we remind ourselves that life truly is 50/50 and that feeling all emotions is the human experience, it starts to shift how we think about negative emotions. We don’t beat ourselves up because we “shouldn’t feel this way”. Negative emotions are part of life’s balance and we keep going. We become the non-judgmental observer of our own thoughts and emotions. This allows us to be kinder to ourselves while simultaneously still getting things done that we want or need to.

Emotions are like a painting, if you paint the entire canvas with one color, it’s not very interesting, is it? However, when we use multiple colors, we are attracted to it’s uniqueness and beauty. Does it make the painting look messy sometimes? Sure. But there can be beauty in chaos–just like a big thunderstorm. Or on a more fun note, like finding Waldo in the Where’s Waldo books (I loved these as a kid)!

Why is this the topic I chose for this week’s blog? Honestly, it’s because this last week has been rough. Full of confusion, doubt, rejection, and fear. These concepts I teach aren’t just “woo woo–let’s make life happier”; it’s about resilience and emotional fortitude. Did I show-up exactly how I wanted to show up this week? No. But I’m also not going to beat myself up over things I didn’t do or “should have done.” This week has been my reminder that it’s okay to not feel good–in fact, it’s okay to feel terrible. It doesn’t mean I’m a terrible person. It doesn’t mean my business is a failure. It doesn’t mean that I don’t care. You know why? Because I consciously and deliberately choose not to make negative emotions mean anything personal about me. This doesn’t mean my mind doesn’t offer up those thoughts–it absolutely does. But then I remember that I’m the one in control still.

This is what life coaching is about, my friends. It’s not about a magic fix or finding the missing formula or answer that flips the switch to make your life happy all the time. It’s about resilience, grit, and fortitude. Coaching is about me helping you broaden your perspective, providing more tools for your toolbox, and using those tools to help you create new habits so it’s easier to go through life. I can absolutely state from personal experience, that this work has helped me enjoy my life more. I can navigate through life on a different level and am so grateful for the opportunity to help others do the same.

We are stronger together. If I can help support you, don’t hesitate to reach out. Let’s change how we show up in the world, and then go out and change the world!