Did you know that ALL emotions are there to upgrade and help your life and relationships? Yes, even the uncomfortable ones! Most of us have a negative relationship with our uncomfortable emotions. We label them as bad or crazy, we suppress them, judge them, and feel ashamed because of them. This is a big problem! Our uncomfortable emotions are like notifications or messages others send us on our phone. If we never read and take action to respond to notifications, we may miss important and helpful things! If we do not create a process to block unhelpful ones, we may get overwhelmed and confused.
Today, I want to lead you through three steps to resolve emotions, and an example of how I applied them to resolve an uncomfortable emotion myself.
First, clearly label the feeling or feelings. Try using a feelings wheel (google it for dozens of options). Most people can only name a handful of feelings, but the more specific we can get the better we will be at resolving uncomfortable emotions quickly. The easy ones are in the middle, so start there, and branch your way out to more specific words. Think of this step like getting directions. Specific directions are always more helpful than vague directions, or saying: “just go north.”
Second, appreciate that the emotion is there. Again, this often requires radical self-kindness and gratitude. Be thankful and curious towards the emotion, knowing it has the potential to help you improve your life if you listen and find a resolution.
Third, explore the origin of the emotion, and what you need by asking specific questions. Here are my favorite questions: “Where did this come from and when did it start?” “Is it from myself, my conscious, from someone else, or from a situation?” “Is it based on objective truth a judge would see as concrete evidence, or assumptions and opinion?” “What do I need to resolve this?”
So, how do I apply this? A while back, I gave someone a gift at a party and left feeling uncomfortable. I labeled the feeling as “bad” at first. But, I take a moment to check the feelings wheel and realize I specifically feel embarrassed, and ashamed.
Where did that feeling come from and when did it start? The feeling started when the person I gave a gift to did not seem to like it. It came from her facial expression and a comment, where she said her daughter would like the gift.
Is it myself, my conscious, someone else or a situation? After reflection, it mostly came from myself. I assumed her comment and lack of joy meant she did not like it, but that is subjective. A judge wouldn’t see that as “evidence” because she never said she did not like it, and she thanked me for it twice. So, I am imagining I can mindread and judging her without any actual evidence. I am feeling I am not good enough, because I am judging the gift was not good enough. That judgment about myself is off. Objectively, a judge would not say I am the sum of the gift I gave.
What do I need? I need to recognize I am falling into self-judgment and unhelpful thoughts about myself. I am human. All humans have experienced giving a gift that others don’t love, it’s a normal part of life, by acknowledging this in myself, I become more empathic towards others in similar situations. I need to encourage myself: I will get through this, it doesn’t make me a failure to give a gift that is not loved. I need to stop judging myself harshly: others have told me they also find it hard to read this person and know what she likes, and some did not even bring a gift for that reason. I need to give myself kindness and appreciation: I spent a long time looking for that gift, and my heart was really good, and I can appreciate that about myself. I need to apply a non-judgmental attitude about her: I don’t know what she was actually thinking unless she says it, and that is not fair for me to judge her thoughts.
In this situation, I effectively resolved and transformed the emotion. The emotion of being ashamed was telling me I was judging myself, and being too hard on myself. It was uncomfortable because it needed to change. Even though a person triggered it, the force of my uncomfortable feeling in this situation was my own unhelpful thoughts, judgments and process. After giving myself what I needed, my emotion was transformed to feeling courageous, hopeful, proud I tried, connected to others that have felt the same, and free of resentment or shame.
Whatever the case for you, I want to encourage you to practice resolving your emotions! It can be challenging at first, like any new skill, but once you get some experience, you will find so much more peace and clarity in life! If you need help learning to resolve emotions, I would be happy to help you! You can schedule a free life coaching consultation on my Life Coaching Page!