How many times has someone told you to control your emotions? That being upset, hurt or angry about things is pointless, and you shouldn’t be so dramatic? Has someone ever told you that emotions are weak, or that showing your feelings is a sign of weakness? I’ve heard countless times people who are upset excusing their emotions because they’re scared people might think them overdramatic, or too sensitive. We’ve all seen in movies and books when people are crying, or dealing with a troubling situation they are mocked, ignored or told quite simply ‘to get a grip’ or ‘cry yourself a river and get over it’. Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t agree with this response at all!
Emotions are normal. We are humans, not robots, and so experiencing life comes with having a range of feelings. What I’m trying to say is, emotions are an essential part of our lives. A machine responds to commands, and whatever else happens to it, with a ‘blank expression’ and just continues without really being affected in any way. You can’t tell whether it was upset about it, happy, or angry. People are very different, though. There is so much that happens in life, so of course, a wide variety of emotions that can be triggered from the roller coaster that takes us from one day to the next. We’re in a global pandemic for heaven’s sake, not to mention all the regular stresses we have to handle daily.
Have any of you seen the movie Inside Out? It’s a fantastic, touching film about the emotions in an eleven-year-old girl’s head as she copes with moving states and starting a new school.
*SPOILER ALERT – so if you haven’t watched the movie yet I’d highly recommend you go check it out now, and then come back here to finish reading 😊
What I loved most about the film was the way they portrayed the emotions in her head, but also how they interacted together. Joy was in charge, obviously. Fear, Disgust and Anger played minor roles but still seemed to be relevant, but Sadness was disregarded as not being important. It isn’t until the end of the movie that Joy realises that Sadness plays an important role and that it’s often because of Sadness that Joy can follow. The emotions then all learn that they can co-exist together, and one emotion doesn’t have to drive alone. They find out that when the emotions blend together, life seems to go more smoothly. Doesn’t that sound so relatable? When you don’t fight to have one emotion take the lead and instead accept them and let them all blend together in a beautiful kaleidoscope of feelings, everything really is much easier to manage.
So, back to the business, one of my core beliefs is that IT IS OKAY TO FEEL! It’s something I’ve always told my friends whenever they’re going through problems, and something I try to tell myself (even though it’s a lot harder to listen when you’re the one giving yourself advice). It’s probably my signature line of advice. Because, at the end of the day, it is okay to feel. Your emotions are a response to what you’re experiencing, and everyone will react differently. So, that means that you’re allowed to feel the way you do about a situation, and no one else can tell you that you’re being dramatic or overemotional, because you are different people. For example, I’m a lot more ‘emotional’ than my boyfriend is. Partially because I think his heart is encased in stone (not really but I know you know what I mean) but also because situations affect us differently. He isn’t bothered by other people. I am though, so if I have an issue with a friend or family member, you’ll definitely be able to tell when you look at me. That doesn’t mean that I am too sensitive, or that he is insensitive, it just means that we are different. This is why I always emphasise that it is okay to feel … because guess what? We’re human beings and having emotions are part of the package.
There are some toughies out there who might think that not showing emotions is better, and I’m not about to try and start an argument with how people choose to handle their emotions. How you manage your emotions is entirely up to you, but as with most things, some methods are more favourable than others. The reason why it’s so important to be okay with your emotions and allow yourself to feel them is because the opposite doesn’t usually have stunning results. Denying your feelings, bottling them up and not allowing yourself to feel them can actually make things more horrible in the long run and cause you more emotional distress. Please know that emotions do not make you weak, and they do not make you any less of a person – they are a natural response to different situations and just like all of us have unique personalities, we all have our own way with how we’ll respond.
Step one: don’t suppress them; accept them
So, how can you address your emotions? The key, for me at least, is to not suppress them. That doesn’t mean you have to broadcast it to the entire world, and you don’t even have to share it with your closest friends, but you should never try to hide what you are feeling from yourself. Try to first figure out what you’re feeling and then puzzle out how you came to be feeling that (i.e. you feel sad and disappointed because you failed a test that you studied really hard for). Once you know what you’re feeling and why it becomes a lot easier to move forward because you’ve identified the source of the emotion. However, please note though that being able to recognise your emotions and explain them doesn’t translate to blaming someone for how you feel. A situation involving other people may have sparked that particular emotion, but other people aren’t responsible for the way you feel – feelings come from inside you (just like that spicy burrito you had for lunch).
The crucial thing that I’m trying to push, though, and I hope I’m doing a good job at that, is that you need to accept your emotions as something that is natural and understandable. It’s like going to the bathroom after having two litres of water – it’s natural and understandable! 😊
Step two: find a coping mechanism
We all have coping mechanisms, even if you don’t quite realise it. It’s those little things that stop us from putting a fist through the wall when life gets too harsh and keeps our heads straight when the rest of the world is going crazy. Having a coping mechanism that works for you is key to getting through life, and especially when dealing with emotions. So, think about what makes you feel better when you’re experiencing negative emotions ….
Some people like to vent about their issues in some way, shape or form. This could mean talking to a parent, a best friend, or even a pet or stuffed animal. Other means of doing this is to stand in front of the mirror and let the tirade out, or to spew it all out in a letter. Personally, my go-to choices are venting to my boyfriend or writing everything in a letter (which I then seal and put in a little box). This type of thing helps because it allows you to express how you’re feeling (besides just coming to terms with it in your head) and also come to terms with it. Plus, it is a way to release all the negativity you’ve been holding onto, much like letting all the air out of a balloon. You don’t realise how much it’s holding you down until you let it all out.
There are plenty of other great coping mechanisms. Unfortunately, binge-eating chocolate or other sugary junk food isn’t one of them. I know that’s a bit of a bubble popper, but it’s the truth. Eating all of that unhealthy food may feel great in the moment, but it’s only going to cause more problems in the long run. Sure, those cartons of ice cream helped for thirty minutes, but the weight gain, skin problems and unstable emotions from potential sugar cravings is only going to make your negative mood worse. I’m sorry everyone, but for dealing with emotions in this context, I’m taking chocolate as therapy off the table. It’s for your own good, I promise.
Better ways to cope include doing some form of exercise, even if it’s just a long walk. Why? Because exercise helps the brain release natural chemicals that elevate mood, and it can help release stress in general. If physical activity isn’t your jam (I totally get you if you feel this way because it’s still not my favourite thing to do either, especially if I’m upset), then try something more lowkey. Journaling is fantastic, so is reading, listening to music, having a hot bubble bath, or even playing with a pet. Honestly, I could go on and on about different coping mechanisms, but the truth is that you’re the only one who knows what works for you. So, if you don’t already know what your coping mechanism is, why not take some time to figure that out? See what calms you down, or puts you in a better mood, and if you test it out and it works, then you know you’ve found it! Coping mechanisms may not fix the problem, but they’re a way of helping us handle it – that’s why they’re so important.
Step three: don’t let them consume you/know when to ask for help
Last but not least, even though yes, it is crucial to feel your emotions and not reject their existence, it’s important not to let them consume you. By this, I mean don’t let experiencing your sadness take you down a long path of endless tears that consume you for weeks on end. I know this sounds challenging, especially when you’re in a tough spot, but you are stronger than those negative emotions. You have every right to feel them, but don’t let them drag you down until you can’t get up again. If, however, you do find that you’re really struggling to get past the negativity, you need to know that it’s okay to ask for help. Speak to a trusted friend/adult and see if they can maybe help you come to terms with how you’re feeling and move past it. Or, if you’ve been feeling all of this for a while, maybe consider speaking to a counsellor or therapist? That doesn’t mean you are weak or have let the negativity get the best of you. Still, sometimes we all need extra help and speaking to a professional who is trained to help you deal with harmful emotions will probably help you recover a lot faster.
At the end of the day, don’t judge yourself for what you are feeling because it’s normal to feel them! Let yourself feel all of those emotions in their full so that you can progress to moving on. They’re a part of you, so don’t condemn them – instead embrace them. I hate to come back to that awful expression I used earlier, but when you use it right, it does work. “Cry yourself a river and get over it.” Instead of thinking about that negatively, rather think of ‘crying’ as stage one. You need to cry yourself a river, because otherwise what reason would you have to build a bridge and move past it? Okay, that may have not come out as eloquently as I intended, but I mean it in a good way I promise. Crying is a way to deal with your emotions, it helps you let them out, and only once you’ve done that can you start to move on and recover. Embracing your emotions, as I’ve said repeatedly, is so much more healing than bottling them up. I’m going to now tell you what I’ve told all my close friends when they have troubles:
“IT’S OKAY TO FEEL!!”
Emotions aren’t a bad thing, and they aren’t something to be ashamed of, we just don’t need to let them consume us. Remember that you are stronger than your emotions, but having emotions is also what makes you strong. (Wow that was a good line … is that copyrighted? Maybe I should copyright it?). Just like in Inside Out, remember that all the emotions play a crucial role, and only when they all work and blend together does the magic happen. Thank you all so much for reading today’s post – I hope you all enjoyed it! Please don’t forget to hit that subscribe button, that little like button and share with all of your friends so our community here on Tall Blonde Tales can grow 😊 Now before I say goodbye for today, what are your coping mechanisms? Anything that I’ve missed out? I’d love to hear in the comments section!
Lots of Love
Blondey on a Mission xxx