A lot of times, we tend to set aside what we really feel in fear of hurting and offending other people. We forget all about them and ignore them for as long as possible.
However, when those emotions catch up to us, we often end up with a total meltdown.
Research has proven that suppression tends to cause more harm than good. Negative emotions can drag you down, especially when helplessness kicks in.
It leads to depression, anxiety, anger, loneliness and a slew of new problems to deal with.
Your risks of serious mental and physical problems drastically increase, the longer you bottle up your emotions.
It’s a destructive habit. But, like all habits, it can be broken.
Here are a few steps to guide you on how to release pent up emotions and how you can live a more positive, healthy, and happy life.
Step 1: Check in
Figure out how you feel, why that rude comment from your coworker upset you or why driving in rush hour makes you feel annoyed, and get to know what makes you tick.
Accepting and understanding your emotion will allow you to truly know yourself. This, in essence, will help you live happier and healthier.
Admit that you have emotions and that how you feel matters, rather than setting your emotions on the back burner. You may think that showing your emotions can make you look weak. In reality, however, it’s denying you have emotions that does.
Vulnerability isn’t a curse. It allows you to connect with others, to love and to experience what it really means to be alive. Allow yourself to open up and you will notice changes.
Try this: Take the time you need to think. Recognize your emotion for what it is, then choose how to react to it.
Step 2: Prioritize
You don’t want to care about what other people think. You probably even told yourself that you don’t have an inkling of concern about their thoughts.
It’s simply not true. Everyone cares about what others think.
The trick is to prioritize what you care about and, most importantly, whose opinion matters.
Brene Brown, the author of Daring Greatly and Rising Strong, said it best: “When you don’t care at all what anyone thinks, you lose the capacity to connect. If you are defined by what people say, you lose the courage to be vulnerable.”
If you reach one extreme or the other, you’ll notice a total shut down. You’ll produce little, motivation will slip and you will wind up minimizing your impact.
Try this: Write down the names of a handful or people that matter to you. You can arrange the names in descending order or you can just list the people that matter the most and equally divvy your attention between them. Either way, what’s important is that you know whose opinions matter.
Do you really care what the grocery store clerk or your mailman think? What about your mother? Husband or wife? Children? Friends? Coworkers? How about your boss?
Make your list and ignore what everyone excluded from the list thinks.
Step 3: Know how to release pent-up emotions and take action
Express your emotions in calculated reactions by doing something. This is not the time for procrastination or excuses.
In step 1, you should have decided how you would like to react to specific situations or scenarios. For example, by keeping your cool or expressing your emotions in positive and proactive ways.
Although it’s easier said than done, letting your frustrations out in beneficial methods can actually help keep you from hitting your breaking point.
Doing is achieving. You can do all the planning in the world but you have to back it up with action. The time is now.
Try this: Let out your emotions with a hobby. Write, listen to or create music. You can pray or even meditate. All of these activities have countless studies that prove how valuable they are, especially in dealing with emotions.
You can also practice gratitude. It can help build better relationships, networks, career prospects and even belongingness.
Hundreds of studies have demonstrated how expressing gratitude can change lives. Its benefits include getting better sleep, having more energy and being happier, healthier and more resilient days when something unexpected pops up.
Step 4: Speak up
There will be times when you’ll feel something is out of your control, but keep in mind that you’re never helpless.
Speaking your thoughts will allow you to feel like you —your ideas, dreams, goals, challenges and accomplishments — matter to other people.
Ever wonder why a dream vacation is more exciting when you’re telling your best friend about your plans? Or why you feel more proud about winning first place in the 4k-mile run when you celebrate your accomplishment with loved ones?
The answer is simple. We need someone to care.
Try this: Talk to your friends, family or even pets. If there’s something bothering you, get it out of your chest. Knowing how to release pent-up emotions isn’t that hard. You just got to know how to voice your concerns, desires, and emotions. If you’re not sure why you feel so crappy, talking things out can help you figure out the real issue.
Talk to nature if there’s no ear available to listen or, for some reason, you’re too embarrassed to tell a real human. Just drop that emotional burden and move on.
Step 5: Never stop learning
Increasing your emotional competence doesn’t happen overnight. You must learn and work daily to better yourself and improve your life. Keep in mind that there’s always room for improvement.
Never stop learning how to grow and better yourself. The moment you do, it’s when you stop truly living.
Life is a magical mystery and it should be enjoyed with a smile on your face.
Emotional competency doesn’t mean you must only feel positive emotions. It also involves understanding how to better manage your emotions and why it’s a never-ending process. You must learn to make your life easier despite it being ever-changing.
Try this: Read constantly. Keep up with your favorite self-improvement sites, authors and publications. Find writers you can relate to- perhaps with the same struggles even- and learn from them.
Humans love to share what they’ve learned, so be open to listening to those around you. Even if you don’t entirely admire their opinions, you’ll still learn.
Finally, remember that it’s okay to feel your emotions, that some days you don’t have to be happy and that you can take control of your life. But, don’t take things too far to the point that you won’t go out of bed or shower for a week.
Don’t let your emotions take over or linger. As much as possible, don’t dwell on your problems. Address them right away and do something constructive to make the situation better before you react.
You have the power.
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Author: Brit Haines
Brit Haines is a Kansas City native, freelance writer, and creator of BeWrit, where she helps busy self-improvers conquer the one thing we all struggle through (no matter our differences): life. Check out her blog for actionable personal development tips and follow her on Twitter @be_writ to brighten your day.