Our emotions are important messages – they tell us so much when we're willing to listen to them. When we ignore them, we experience higher levels of stress, anxiety, and general discontent.
A key characteristic of developing Emotional Competency is being able to create a deliberate pause between impulse (feeling) and response (typical ways we use to avoid the feeling). What if instead, we could simply sit with the emotion – allowing a space for it and just noticing it, while resisting the urge to act?
When we can practice noticing and allowing our emotions, we experience a choice point. As much as it may not seem like it at times, we can choose in that moment to stay with what we're feeling and not run away from it. Instead of numbing, distracting, or avoiding, we can take a deep breath and just notice what we're feeling, without getting pulled into what our mind is telling us about what is happening.
It's even helpful to name it, "oh okay, there's anger or sadness or disgust". You can also take note of what you’re experiencing in your body, "I'm noticing that my face feels flushed and my heart is beating faster". We can practice having those sensations and not getting swept away by them. We can practice putting a bit of distance between our core self and the thoughts and emotions we are experiencing.
Tolerating, and even befriending, our full range of emotions is not only brave, but so healthy. And the ironic part is that when we accept what we feel and allow it be there, instead of running and hiding from it, the feeling passes all on its own.
Keep in mind, navigating through our layers of emotions can be tricky business at times. Please take your time - baby steps are good enough with this type of self-work. Remember, our defense mechanisms were put in place, at the time, to keep us safe. But they also keep us distant from our authentic core emotions.
Once you start practicing a new approach, you may find more emotions coming up than you expected. Go easy on yourself and be sure to ask for support from friends, family, or a professional if challenging emotions come up for you. Self-compassion and healthy self-care are key components in navigating through emotions. Be good to you!
Also, please note that one size does not fit all and those who have mental health diagnoses or challenges in which their emotions are significantly debilitating may struggle with doing this practice. Often, it is not because of lack of effort, but that sitting with discomfort is simply beyond the scope of what they are able to manage on their own. In these cases, seeking help and support from a trained professional may be more helpful than trying to manage alone.
Interested in building your emotional competency? Learn more about Mindset Coaching
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Bobbi Beuree, Certified CAN Coach + Facilitator is located in Halifax, NS, and provides virtual, 1:1 coaching services grounded in Mindset Coaching.