“Emotions are like clouds in the sky, they come and go. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
In today’s fast-paced world, we often find ourselves caught up in a whirlwind of intense emotions.
Intense emotions – the stress of looming deadlines, the anxiety of an uncertain future, the frustration of unexpected setbacks – can take over our mental health, leaving us feeling exhausted and helpless in the immediate aftermath. .
In moments like these, our instinctive reaction is often to suppress these emotions or allow them to dictate our actions, leading to a cycle of reactivity and emotional confusion. Masu.
Growing up, I learned to be afraid of emotions. In my chaotic household, it often felt like there was no room for emotion. Feelings were either ignored, ridiculed, or punished. I adapted by suppressing my emotions and disconnecting from my heart.
I’m quiet, shy, sensitive, undisturbed, be the proverbial “good girl”, always entertaining, always performing, never complaining, saying no, never acting out. There was nothing to do. I felt disconnected from myself and had difficulty connecting with others.
I began to disappear into my own world. Convinced that there was something wrong with me, I lived in a constant state of internal anxiety and shame, seeking connection and fear at the same time. For years, I struggled with codependency, negative thinking, c-PTSD symptoms, one-sided relationships, anxiety, and anger that was so buried that I didn’t even realize it. I was living on autopilot. Although I was successful by external standards, I was emotionally confused inside.
It wasn’t until I became a parent that things that had been buried inside me came to the surface and caught me off guard. Parenting has been harder than I expected, forcing me to confront pain, trauma, and difficult truths that I’ve suppressed my entire life. I started to figure it out.
Living on autopilot, we become slaves to our reactions, blindly following the same patterns of behavior without pausing to consider the consequences. I know that I felt lost in a vortex of repressed emotions and disconnected from my true self.
But amidst the turmoil of my inner turmoil, I discovered a transformative path forward: mindfulness. This ancient practice has been a beacon of clarity for me in the midst of emotional storms, inviting me off the treadmill of reactivity and into the present moment.
By embracing mindfulness, I have learned to approach my intense emotions with curiosity and compassion, gradually unraveling the layers of pain and trauma buried deep inside me. In the process, I unearthed a treasure trove of resilience, wisdom, and love that lay dormant deep within me.
How to process intense emotions with mindfulness
Emotions are an essential part of the human experience and often manifest as physical sensations. Although they arise in response to difficult situations or perceived threats, our immediate reactions are often automatic and primal. But by developing greater self-awareness and empathy for our own emotional experiences, we can begin to navigate intense emotional situations with more clarity and resilience.
Step 1: Name your text.
Think about a recent situation that caused strong emotions in you. It may be a disagreement with a loved one, a work-related challenge, or a personal setback. Stop and ask yourself. What did you feel in your body at that moment? Did your chest tighten, your heart race, or your eyes water?
When my children were young, I struggled with anxiety. Between the lack of sleep, having to be “on” 24/7 as a parent, the stress of trying to make a living, and feeling lonely (I moved across the country), I was constantly frustrated. . As a result, they react to small things with great emotion. My body is always tense, my heart is pounding, and I start thinking, “I can’t take it anymore!” It ran through my head.
Emotions first appear as physical sensations. These natural reactions are beyond our control because they are programmed into our DNA. The good news is that these physical sensations are like emotional guideposts. If we pay attention, we can recognize what they are trying to tell us. And by naming what comes up, we can gain clarity and understand what is going on inside of us. It is an empowering first step towards mindful emotional processing.
Step 2: Inhale.
Mindfulness teaches us to pay attention. By doing so, we can be aware of what’s going on in our bodies with compassion and without judgment. That awareness is power, the power to respond from your authentic self rather than from your habitual self.
Think back to a time when you had a heated argument with a loved one. Your immediate reaction was likely intense and emotions running high. But what if you took a deep breath and paused in that moment?
When we are triggered, the primitive parts of our brain are activated first, long before our intelligent brain receives the signal. The amygdala (the reptilian brain) controls our automatic reactions, which rely on discipline, defenses, and coping mechanisms that we have developed over the years. By taking a few deep breaths, you can stop this response just long enough for your prefrontal cortex and intellect to activate.
Over time, this simple act of focusing on my breathing during waves of intense emotions helped me stay calm in stressful situations, allowing me to control my reactions. Often that was enough for me to regain perspective and respond as an adult rather than an overwhelmed child still trying to be seen and heard. Now, whenever I feel stimulated or ungrounded, I remember to keep focusing on my breathing. It always gets me to the other side.
Step 3: Remember that emotions are energy in motion.
Emotions are energy and are always in motion. We become trapped in our emotions because we disconnect from them, repress them, and pretend they don’t exist. Or we cling to them. We let them fester. They are not processed and released, so you cannot proceed.
Dealing with emotions starts with simply accepting them for what they are. We no longer fight them, get stuck, and run away from what comes our way. Instead, let the emotions come and go without adding to the story. If you practice this when you’re calm, you’ll know what to do when the time comes.
Just notice what’s going on inside of you and learn to tolerate it. Observe the sensations in your body, feel what comes up, and be compassionate towards yourself, especially when intense emotions arise. This is difficult work, so take small steps and take care of your body and mind every day.
Mindfulness teaches us to accept all emotions and increases our tolerance for stressors. We become more resilient and authentic. We begin to listen to our feelings openly, non-judgmentally, and with compassion. It brings about change.
Emotions are messengers. They tell us what we value and what we don’t want. For me, anxiety was screaming at me to start taking care of myself. I was so focused on raising children, working, and running my home that I neglected to express myself. The truth is, I was extremely frustrated, but once I accepted that, I was able to set boundaries and change what wasn’t working.
Think about the last time you felt disappointed or frustrated. Instead of pushing these feelings away, just allow your feelings to be present without judgment. Focus on your body. Where does that emotion come from? what does it look like? What does it need from you? Whatever happens, pay attention.
As you observe these sensations, you can journal about them or take them for a walk. Perhaps your body needs to shake it off or start dancing. Do whatever feels right to move that energy in and out of your body. By facing your emotions, you can allow them to flow through you instead of letting them stagnate and fester.
Step 4: Respond from your wise self.
Awareness is half the equation. The other half is action. And how you react depends on your state of mind. Mindfulness helps you avoid getting caught up in the chaos of emotional responses. You can no longer spin on autopilot. Instead, you notice, breathe what is, and tap into a higher perspective. Then choose your response based on what makes sense to you.
Ask yourself, “What is the best way to handle this situation?” Do you need to take action, assert yourself, set boundaries and ask for support, take a step back and regroup, or restore your energy and regain balance? Do you need to take care of yourself?
For me, overcoming anxiety has been a journey of learning to recognize when anxiety arises, breathe through the discomfort with compassion, and choose responses that align with my values and well-being.
I started prioritizing my health and well-being, whether it was removing myself from triggering spaces and situations, taking more time for myself, seeking support, or letting go of perfection. It wasn’t always easy and I had to let go of some things, but I slowly moved towards inner peace and integrity.
I also learned not to take things personally, recognizing that everyone experiences difficult emotions and that responding with grace is a sign of strength.
If you haven’t developed emotional regulation, it can feel like you’re navigating a minefield. For years I struggled with understanding and controlling my emotions. As a result, relationships, happiness, and overall well-being were affected.
But with mindfulness and consistent practice, I was able to break free from old patterns, heal past wounds, and cultivate emotional resilience and happiness. Intense emotions began to take over me and I became calmer and less reactive. I discovered the grace of self-compassion and learned how to ride the waves of big emotions knowing that they would eventually subside.
Emotions are a complex part of our lives, and mindfulness can help you deal with them more effectively. There’s no need to be afraid of them. It is possible to regulate our emotions and cultivate a more deliberate and graceful approach to life’s challenges.
By actively engaging with our emotions rather than reacting instinctively, we unlock a newfound sense of control and wisdom and develop a more harmonious relationship with our emotions and the world around us. can do.