Most of us did not learn as children to manage difficult emotions. Yet being able to identify, understand and express our emotions is key to our mental health and having healthy relationships. Why is it so difficult to understand let alone express something that is so natural? Emotions are physical reactions with an energetic charge to them. We feel this surge of energy when we have any strong emotion, but we tend to suppress or act out the negative ones rather than identifying and understanding them.
In our western culture, we are often taught to suppress our difficult strong emotions and put on a ‘stiff upper lip’. Somehow the message is that these emotions are wrong or ‘bad’ and that we need to rise above them. Studies have shown that suppressing emotions actually endangers health and wellbeing, both physically and psychologically. Emotional suppression does not make the emotion go away; we internalize it causing more pain and stress or it erupts damaging to our relationships and self esteem.
What if we allowed ourselves to feel our emotions in real time? Emotions are energy and much like ocean wave there is a natural rise, peak and subsiding if we allow it to naturally pass through our body. We need to learn to identify, understand and manage our emotions so that we show up the way we want to in our relationships, work, and parenting roles. This is a skill and gets better with practice and self reflection. Mindfulness practices help to cultivate this ability, as does the use of researched based strategies such as Emotional Freedom Techniques otherwise known as ‘Tapping’.