Do you ever wonder why it is that you can smell something, see a picture, or think of a place or person in your mind and be practically transported into an emotional vortex from the past? A vortex that brings back the exact emotion that you felt at the given time. Sometimes the emotion can be subtle and sometimes, intense. Perhaps the intensity of the original experience will dictate the degree of emotion that you feel. Emotions range from amazing to beyond painful. There are a rainbow of degrees that emotions can bring up for us.
Often the little details of a particular experience can be forgotten, but the emotion that the experience initially brought up will be remembered.....at times, forever. This is what you see when you observe someone talking about an experience that might have happened long ago, but still stirs up emotion and brings them face to face with the experience. This is also why some choose not to talk or think about something painful that happened. It hurts too much.
Question: What do you do when a situation, person or experience brings up tough emotions? What are we supposed to do with these emotions when they seem hard to handle?
I’m not going to act like I know the answer to this question, because I don’t. I also believe that the answer is different and unique given the person, situation and emotion felt. When tackling how to cope with “the hard stuff,” here are some ideas.
First off, I believe it’s really important to protect yourself when you’re coping with and trying to wrap your head around difficult emotions. Especially when they are fresh, like an open wound. Pushing yourself to see people or engage in experiences that are going to trigger these “difficult” feelings more than you feel you can handle can be harmful. It’s like throwing a little kid into the deep end of a pool before he/she can swim. Not a good idea. So, be mindful of the choices you are making for yourself when you are in the mist of trying to manage your feelings. Don’t push yourself to do things or see people because you think you “should.” Stay true to you and keep yourself safe.
If you feel that your emotions are bigger and more challenging than you can manage on your own: seek help. That sounds so cliche coming from a therapist, but it’s true. It might be professional help that you need to seek, and perhaps it’s not. Maybe it’s the support of close friends or family. Maybe it’s watching a marathon of self help media. Who knows, but my point is that it’s your duty to yourself to think about what you specifically need to do for your own self care.
Give yourself time, time to process what you are feeling. Time to feel IT. It’s common to have to go through a bit of a journey in order to cope and deal with hard emotions, so let yourself adventure with being kind and aware of what you need.
What I do know is that nobody can decode your emotions. They are yours and only yours to process. Others are there to help and support you, but you, my friend, will have to do the dirty work yourself.
You will get through hard times and hard feelings. It will take work and awareness on your part, but it’s not impossible and, often, can help you build some solid character.
*The above image was taken in the Salton Sea by San Diego Photographer, Shannon Bailey.