Anxious? Angry? Sad? Here’s How to Handle These Feelings Skillfully

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You may like to think of yourself as a rational being, but, in reality, your life is inspired by emotions. Emotions upset you, drive you, intimidate you, and inspire you. They motivate decisions, move you to action, or paralyze you in anxiety, stress, and fear. They are the basis of your finest memories and the bond that creates deep connections with others. In this guide, we’ll explore four principles for skillfully working with your emotions and three suggestions to handle intense feelings like anxiety, anger, and sadness when they threaten to overwhelm you.
You can feel anxious one moment, angry the next, and then have waves of despair flood through you apparently out of nowhere. Since they could take you on these wild rides, it’s natural to be somewhat wary of strong emotions – and do what you can to avoid them or keep them at bay.
You have seen what can happen when so-called”negative” emotions such as fear, anger, and sadness overwhelm you or others. You have memories of unskillful expressions of those feelings you wish you could forget. Images of emotional trauma are stored deep in your subconscious, warning you to be wary once you feel these emotions yourself or witness them in other people. Just thinking about these emotions makes you feel vulnerable.
In the face of vulnerable feelings, a more logical approach may feel safer. It’s easier to focus on your thoughts and not venture into the scary world of feelings. However, reason has its limitations. You may think you’re more rational than you really are. Even though you can rationally weigh alternatives or consider unique thoughts, the closing”Yes this” and”Not that” arises from what”feels right.” Even if you’re focused on thinking instead of feeling, in the end, your decisions and actions are based on your own”gut feelings.”
Because emotions are so powerfully connected to decisions and actions, as well as being linked to threatening memories along with your most powerful inspirations and interpersonal connections, it is important to understand how to handle them skillfully. Let’s explore four principles for relating to emotions in a mindful, intentional, and empowered way. Practicing these principles grows your Emotional Intelligence, which is a skillset for handling emotions well.
Four Principles to Deal with Emotions Skillfully
The only way out of an emotion is through it.
Though your first inclination when you are feeling overwhelmed by uncomfortable feelings, such as fear, anger, and sadness, may be to divert yourself, downplay the feeling, or run away, this just causes emotions to go underground, into your subconscious, where they are saved as tension in your body, eat away at your reassurance, and finally surface as sickness. Repressed emotions are the basis of compulsions and bad habits, in addition to the source of overwhelm and flareups in relationships. You want to address them.
Emotions arise to offer you specific details on what is going on inside you, around you, and with others-and this info will stick with you till it is acknowledged and heeded. Thus, it’s important to change your perspective from fear of emotions to viewing them as helpful guides. Emotions arise with information you need about your life and the ability to take action with this information. So, the number one principle of handling emotions is to stop ignoring them and listen to what they have to show you.
You can begin by paying attention to how you feel, in your body, right now. What are the sensations happening inside your skin? Especially, notice any areas of current discomfort, since these hold important clues to what you will need to know and do now.
If you’re not accustomed to checking in like this, you may not feel much at all or you may feel strong aversion to feeling distress. That’s OK. Stay with it. Stay current with whatever feeling or lack of feeling is there. Attention to feelings requires practice. It’s a real skill you can learn. Bear in mind, if you don’t pay attention to what your emotions are trying to tell you, they get stuck on repeat and keep cycling through you.
Mindfulness of what you feel changes your connection to it.
Mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose, at the present moment, without judgment. When extreme feelings arise, instead of immediately trying to do something about them, take care to witness, listen to, and feel them. This action of mindfulness brings new neural connections into your habitual emotional patterns which allows them to shift. You bring a layer of consciousness to your emotions which affects how they impact you.
Mindfulness releases you from being”gripped by” your emotions in a manner that”takes you over.” You get freedom and space within and around the feelings you”have,” by recognizing that feelings do not define”who you are.” They’re simply information about what is going on inside you, around you, and others.
Knowing that emotions are transient is reassuring when emotions run strongly or cycle repetitively. When you shine the light of awareness in your emotions, you can see what they have to show you, take suitable action, and allow them to release.
Once you’ve tuned into the sensation of an emotion in your body, inquire what message it has for you. What’s this feeling telling you about how you’re relating to a circumstance, to yourself, and with other people?
Given this information, what action would be helpful for others and yourself? Just notice what comes to mind.
Because we are not generally taught to comprehend the meaning in emotions, we often miss, ignore, or prevent their messages. When we do this, psychological energy builds into overblown high play to receive our attention. It’s as if our emotions say,”O.K. you did not get the message in my civil indoor voice, so I’m going to yell it in you.” You then feel extreme anger, overwhelming sadness, or anxiety that is through the roof.
When emotion has amped up to there, it can be useful to bring it down a notch to a manageable level. A few simple actions can help you do so.
Stop what you are doing, close your eyes, and focus on slow, deep, gentle breathing, in and out through your nose. Closing your eyes and engaging in this sort of breathing activates your body’s natural relaxation response, which helps dissipate the pressure, energy, and intensity of powerful emotions.
Feel the feeling of the emotion in your body.
Notice where the emotion is located inside your body. Feel the quality of feeling there. Noticing feelings as sensations helps you witness them more objectively, so you gain space from what you’re feeling.
Adopt the mindful perspective of a curious audience and query the emotion as if it is a friend who wants to tell you something important.
Remember that Mindfulness means paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment. With this attitude, ask your emotion questions, as if it is a friend who is trying to provide you valuable information and you’re a scientist seeking discovery.
When you follow these suggestions, you change your perspective and take the”over-the-top” intense edge off of what you’re feeling. Intense anger can downshift to a firm”no,” intense sadness can mellow into”letting go,” and high anxiety can settle into a motivating spur to action.
After a feeling has downshifted in strength, it is a lot easier to listen to it, feel it, and respond appropriately. You can take action to address the current situation.
The main point is that, as opposed to fearing the emotional intensity of fear, anger, and sadness, see if you’re able to move toward those feelings with a mindful, inquisitive attitude. As you do this, notice how they shift and guide you to what you will need to do right now.

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