Top Three Tips to Manage an Intense Emotion
One of the primary tools that I work with women to develop is the ability to manage, work through, and improve their tolerance to intense emotions. It seems overly simple. But truly many of the impulsive, self-destructive behaviors that cause our lives to fall apart are rooted in an inability to work through intense emotions. When that emotion become intolerable we respond with drastic behaviors often behaviors that are self-destructive. It could be reaching for drugs or alcohol to numb the emotion, or lashing out in another way.
Think about the time you walked off the job, or blew up at your ex, or decided to cuss out a friend, likely prior to each of those behaviors there was an overwhelming and intense emotion.The key to improving self-destructive patterns is to improve our ability to tolerate our emotions. There are many many tools that you can explore to improve your ability to sit with, express and cope with emotions. The three tools I have outlined below are a great starting point these are great for a beginner who want to start the process of improving their relationship with emotions.
Here are my top tips to manage intense emotions:
- Name it: if you can label the emotion your are experiencing and then identify where you are feeling it in your body it can immediately work to reduce the intensity of the emotion. It is important that with this step, you take a non-judgmental stance. You are not your emotion, you are a person experiencing an emotion, and the emotion is neither good nor bad, it simply is.
- Separate yourself from your emotion: Take 3 deep breaths, imagine your belly filling up like a balloon with each breath. Slowly exhale following each inhale. Then remind yourself that all emotions are temporary and that you are not your emotions. What does this mean? You are not your emotions, your emotion is an experience you are having. You may feel angry, anxious or sad, but you are not that emotion. It will pass like all emotions do, you are the vessel that holds the emotion, and with time it will pass. Remembering this point can be very helpful when you are starting to feel overwhelmed, it will pass.
- Make a Win List. Start a list that identifies all of the things that have been going well for you lately, or as I call it, a Win List. Each win can be very small, for example I made my bed this morning, my email box is empty, or I was able to make that call I was procrastinating, I had creamer for my coffee. Every little win counts! When we put together a list of our wins it brings our mind to the positive things in our life right now. Drawing your attention to the wins we can be very helpful in shifting our mood. Notice the shift when you start to pay attention to your wins.
Try these three simple techniques to shift the emotion you are experiencing, let us know if you have another technique that works well for you! These may seem simple and they are, you do not have to start a complicated process to make a change. Each of these skills can make a difference in your emotional experience. Sometimes we need to start small to tackle our most challenging problems.