941-462-4807 meg@megyounglcsw.com

motivation Last week we spoke about how to make 2019 a great year. However, before we get to 2019, we have to get through 2018. Between Thanksgiving and the New Year can be a very difficult time for many people. There are a ton of mixed emotions and all you want is to look forward to a new year.
Unfortunately, when we bury our emotions or otherwise try to deny how we are feeling, it can make the feelings a whole lot worse when they either bubble to the surface or explode to the surface.
Living life denying and burying our feelings can seem like a good idea, especially in a world where we promote happiness and “coping skills” to deal with feelings we don’t want.
The problem with denying our feelings or pushing them away is the rebound effect. It can actually make the feelings worse. Not only can the feelings be worse, but there is a reason for each and every feeling we have and they are all appropriate at different times.
Whereas you might be trying to just get through the holidays and push down negative feelings, it is not the healthiest way to live. You can feel each emotion you have and still enjoy the Holidays as we get ready to welcome a new year.
With just a few tips to help you understand and accept whatever you are feeling, you have the potential to have a very happy Holiday Season before the excitement of the new year.
Keep reading for 3 tips for handling various emotions at the end of the year
The biggest problem of pushing down our emotions is the rebound effect. When we push down our feelings, they come back with significant power. We cannot hold our emotions forever. Often the rebound effect comes out as frustration or anger.
Frustration and anger are much easier to express and deal with than sadness and fear. Furthermore, anger is perceived by society as more acceptable than sadness and fear.
As stated above, we live in a world that promotes happiness. There is a perception that anger is ok (as long as it is expressed without hurting anyone), but sadness and fear are not. We see so many commercials daily about beautiful vacations or where it is so great to retire to. There are several television shows that show “real” people having a great time looking for a new house in a beautiful neighborhood.
Side note: Our brain takes in information and stores it for the future. One potential problem is it does not store experiences as “mine” and “yours.” So movies, tv shows, and news articles that show the bleak side of the world are stored in our minds just the same as if it happened to us.
On the other side of that, we look at all the wonderful things others have in life and imagine how beautiful life could be if we lived here, or went on that vacation, and think why can’t my family be that great together? With this in mind, we think about all our stressors and can start to feel down about not having what we want. The brain then stores that as a potential problem as well.
When we push down our emotions, pretending they don’t exist, we set ourselves up for a more difficult time going forward.
Sure right now you’re feeling confused and thinking that you already live with intention. You may also be thinking that you’ve gone this long burying emotions, why is it really that bad?
Our body and brain are one. When something is off with one part of the body, it affects the entire being. So when something is perceived as a problem in the brain, the body also feels it and vice versa.
You’ve probably heard by this time that stress is a major factor is increased blood pressure, heart problems, and even dental problems as people clench their teeth causing TMJ or broken teeth.
Why is ignoring emotions bad? Because our body will also react. We will end up with various medical problems on top of emotional problems. From here it can cause problems with relationships, work, leisure time, and more.
It may be obvious that ignoring feelings is not going to be helpful to us in the long run the more we think about it in terms of the entire being.
However, what does it take to not bury emotions when we’ve buried emotions for so long? Is there really anything that can be done to change what we’ve done for so long? Like the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is it really possible to change a lifetime of doing the same behavior?
You must know that I am going to say yes to this! Not only am I going to say yes, but I am going to promise and guarantee that it is possible. With just a few tips, it is very possible to change behaviors that are unhelpful to us and live the life we really want to live, with intention and with balance.
Making these changes isn’t as hard as you think because we are not going to think of them as “coping” skills, but more as “lifestyle changes” and we are not going to go too far out of our comfort zone. If you have not read my blog about going out of your comfort zone, do so here. It provides some excellent information as to why changing a behavior is very difficult.
3 tips for handling various emotions at the end of the year
1. Allow yourself to feel the emotion and what it feels like in your body.
When you’re feeling anything, whether a happy or unhappy emotion, it is very helpful to identify what the emotion is and what it feels like in the body. We can mis-read our own emotions!
With my clients, we will often do this using the emotions chart. Many times emotions can be mis-read, even in our own bodies. It is also interesting to see that the same emotions can cause different reactions based on the situation. Furthermore, you may notice that different emotions feel the same in the body.
When we take time to sit with our emotions for just a moment, it gives us time to become intentional with our actions. It allows us to process what we are feeling and why, and allows the brain to digest what is happening, thus allowing for better instant as well as long term reactions.
2. Identify the feeling’s purpose.
Every feeling has a reason. Anxiety alerts us to potential danger. Sadness informs us that something is missing. Every human has a range of emotion and each one serves a unique purpose. If we deny or bury those feelings, we set ourselves up to missing something important and also prevents us from processing the situation to completion, setting us up for remembering it very strongly later on.
This can be one of the hardest parts of my work with my clients. Can you tell me what the purpose to each emotion is? Does it change based on the situation? Maybe the purpose of anger is different in different situations for example.
When I ask my clients to identify the emotion’s purpose, I’m asking them to sit with both the emotion and the situation causing it, which can be very discomforting. However, when my clients find the purpose of the emotion it is often a vey freeing feeling.
Adding this step to your life will make emotions much easier to handle. Knowledge is power; understanding something makes it a lot easier to deal with. Our brains can process things we understand better than things we can’t understand.
3. Decide if it is a helpful or unhelpful feeling in the moment. If it is unhelpful, make an intentional decision to come back to that feeling later.
Deciding whether a feeling is helpful or not in the moment can be a very difficult aspect of handling emotion. This is because when we are upset (angry, irritable, sad, anxious), the fight/flight response activates and the first thing that happens is logic is shut down. We are not supposed to think in danger, and the amygdala, which is the part of the brain responsible for activating the fight flight does not determine whether you are actually in danger or not; it just prepares you in case you are.
If logic is turned off, making the determination on whether the feeling is helpful or not is difficult because the brain will say “Of course it’s important!” We have to determine if that is reality or if it is the amygdala talking.
When you schedule a session with me, we create a script to help you determine if the feeling is helpful or unhelpful in the moment, thus making this tip easier.
These three tips are intended to be used together. They are all helpful tips, but when they are all used together, it is a powerful triad to helping let go of unhelpful feelings and utilize helpful feelings effectively.
I know right now you are unsure whether this will really work and whether it is something you want to try. Remember that behavior change takes a great deal of time as the brain holds our negative experiences in a vice grip and holds our positive experiences with child gloves. Why would the brain let go of the vice grip if it’s purpose is storing the experiences in order to keep you alive?
When you are ready to take control of your life and not let buried emotions bubble right under the surface or explode at inopportune times, these three tips, done together, is a small lifestyle change that will bring you the control you want and need during the holidays.
When you make this small lifestyle change, you have the potential to see huge results from it. You have the ability to gain control of yourself and your emotions, allowing you to make intentional decisions in your every day life.
The ball is in your court. Read my blog on getting out of your comfort zone so when you start making this lifestyle change, you will maintain the motivation and determination you need to stick with it.
Then, once you’ve read the blogs and you’re ready to take the next step, call me to schedule an appointment. Together, we will take you to the next level. You will meet your goals, you will make intentional actions and decisions, and you will find a sense of control in your life as you go through the holidays and into 2019.
Call me today at 941-462-4807