The first step in managing emotions (“Manage” in this sense means to handle with a degree of skill) is to learn to identify and tune into feelings–both ours and other people’s. The ability to recognize and understand our own emotions is particularly important if we are to allow ourselves to feel and express them. It is common to fall into patterns of avoidance or denial of feelings. If something hurts, we’d rather not feel it. It is usually our family of origin experiences–how we were taught by our parents—that determine our style of managing (or mismanaging) our feelings.
Feelings have to “go” somewhere. We can let them out appropriately in a healthy way, hold them in and stuff them, turn them in upon ourselves, or take them out sideways on other people. The later three are not healthy or productive and can result in stored up anger, resentment, and depression. Once you’re able to identify and tune in to how you’re feeling, it’s important to express your emotions–talk about them–use feeling words. Allowing ourselves to feel and then sharing feelings is how process life, how we grieve, and how we get close to people. Suppressing feelings, or denying you have them is incredibly problematic. The goal is to acknowledge them and deal with them in an honest way. Even if the feelings are negative or painful, it’s better to let them out in a healthy way than to hold them in.
When possible, express your feelings in a neutral, even tone. This is achieved by using “I” statements, such as “When you __(their behavior)__, I felt __(your feeling)__” or “I feel angry because…” rather than “You made me angry because…” The appropriate expression of feelings does not contain accusations or attacks.
Just as your own feelings are important, it’s essential to acknowledge and honor other people’s feelings as legitimate and valid as well. Although you may feel differently about a situation and/or completely disagree on facts, the other person’s feelings are real. If you invalidate their feelings, you are likely to intensify or aggravate the feelings. Allowing feelings to be expressed and recognized helps release them. So how do you feel? Here is a huge list of feelings words to pick from. Check it out.
If you live in the Baton Rouge Area, and would like to enter counseling to work on managing emotions, please call Baton Rouge Counseling at (225) 293-2913. If you need relationship counseling, check out our Marriage Counseling in Baton Rouge LA.
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