Today is a difficult day already. I can feel my emotions all mixed up inside and I’m struggling to work through them and not become overwhelmed by their Intensity. I can almost visualize them all churning away inside of me, fighting to find their way out and I am challenged with the task of allowing myself to feel the emotion, yet not get swept away by them. It’s time to pull out some of the skills I’ve learned over the years to deal with this.
1. Labelling the emotions. Once everyone is gone for the day, I’m going to take some time and spend it looking at what I am feeling and putting names to the emotions. Right now, in the intensity, I want to just label everything as anger because I’m feeling irritated, but I know there’s other feelings mixed in there and for me it’s important to label each of the emotions so I can deal with them effectively.
2. Accepting the emotions. Feelings come and feelings go. I’ve learned to accept that having intense emotions is part of my illness and fighting the emotion only increases their intensity. Even though I don’t like the way I feel with certain emotions, I accept that I am having them and am learning to ride them like a wave.
3. Recognizing that feelings are temporary. Even though right in this moment I’m feeling unpleasant things, I know that these will pass. It might not happen as quickly as I would like it to, but it does happen.
4. Using mindfulness to cope. When trying to cope with difficult emotions, I use the skills I learned from mindfulness to help me deal with their intensity. I actually imagine myself putting the feelings on a little leaf and watching them float down the river…..as I watch them disappear around the bend, I can feel them ease up in my body and mind.
5. Not judging the feelings. When I can stop judging myself for having the emotions, I don’t feel so bad. I’m not a bad person for feeling the way that I do and I’ve learned to stop comparing myself to an ideal that doesn’t exist. I’m human and humans feel. That means I have the right to feel any way that I’m feeling.
6. Not acting out on the feelings. While I certainly have the right to feel any feeling that I have, I do have a responsibility to choose behaviours that are appropriate. It’s up to me to decide how i am going to react to the feelings. I’ve learned through my therapy that I can choose healthy ways to cope with feelings. In the past I would stuff the feelings, avoid them, or act out in ways that were unhealthy to me and my relationships. I have to make a conscious choice each time to not do that and I admit it’s hard work.
It might be a mixed up day but I owe it to myself to try my best to work through it. Part of me wants to just throw up my hands and write the day off and let myself be overwhelmed, but I’m gonna dig in my heels and keep working for something better.