Feeling Your Feelings

I have never been the best at dealing with my feelings. I’ve been taking a lot of steps lately to improve this, but today I’m going to talk a lot about feelings and how to deal with them effectively so they don’t control you. Of course, as always, this is just what works for me. I hope that you can benefit from it.

Feelings suck sometimes. I think we can all agree on that. And I know that sometimes I myself am not very good at dealing with my own. Sometimes things come up in life that stress me out. And with them come an overwhelming amount of emotion, and there are oh so many options for just blocking it out altogether. Maybe there are people that always deal with their negative emotions in healthy and natural ways. But I’ve never met any of them.

Anxiety

When I’m faced with a stressful situation, I don’t always handle it as smoothly as I could. In my first post, I discuss how fear has been ruling my life. Sometimes it seems like my natural reaction to new things is fear and resistance. For obvious reasons, this sucks. It means that when things don’t go the way I expect them to, I have strong emotional reactions. It means that I’m a little too set in my ways. Sometimes it means that before I have any new experiences, I have to talk myself into them or have someone else talk me into them.

I like security and predictability in my life. I think that’s true of everyone, to a certain extent. It seems especially true for me. I don’t like the feeling of not knowing if things are going to happen the way I want them to happen. I like to know how my life is going to go, or at least my day. It’s nice to know that people are going to stick around in my life. I moved around a lot as a kid, and I didn’t keep many friends over the years. Maybe that has something to do with it. In any case, I have this image in my head of how my future will look. When something threatens that image, it scares me. Whether it’s my work life, or my personal life, or anything else, uncertainty makes me uncomfortable.

Coping

I know people who deal with stress in a lot of different ways. Some people drink or do drugs. Some people get absorbed in something else, like work or a hobby, to distract them from whatever emotions they’re avoiding. Sometimes they’ll lash out, or blame other people. I’ve done all of that. So I can say from experience that it’s often an awful way to try to deal with things.

My biggest escapes were weed, video games, and TV shows. I went through a breakup a couple years ago, and there were three things got me through that first month. Weed, Netflix, and Skyrim. Usually all at the same time. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Skyrim is a video game. One that I spent probably close to 100 hours on during that time period. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good game. I’m not against video games. But when you spend all of your free time on a game, and plan your day around it, it’s a problem. I also watched a lot of Netflix that month. It was comforting for me to have it playing whenever I didn’t have other people around me. I went through 40+ GB of data that month from the constant streaming.

Solutions

Luckily for me and those around me, I’ve been getting better at dealing with things as they come at me. Instead of spending days or weeks avoiding thinking about a certain situation, I’ve learned that it’s always best to face it head on. This might seem like common sense to a lot of people, but I know that there are still a lot of people out there like me who can always use these little reminders.

So the next time you’re overwhelmed and you don’t know how you’re possibly going to be able to deal with it, here is something you can do. Go somewhere where you can be alone, if at all possible. Somewhere at least marginally quiet. Don’t listen to any music. Don’t turn on a TV or a computer. Put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” or airplane mode or turn it off altogether. Take a deep breath. Hold it for a few seconds. Let it out slowly. Do this a few more times.

Now take a few minutes to think about what you’re feeling. Acknowledge it. Feel it. The more you push it away, the more it’ll be nagging at you. The second you face it and allow it to pass over you, you’re able to make peace with it. I’m going to leave you with a quote that I recently set as the wallpaper on my phone. I hope it speaks to you the way it speaks to me.

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
― Frank Herbert, Dune

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