Difficult emotions can be highly complex and tough to process. Difficult emotions are usually negative emotions such as anger, loneliness, sadness, jealousy, fear, rejection, or self-criticism. At face value, these emotions are hard. If these emotions are not processed, they can become destructive and highly harmful.
Negative emotions are a part of life and are impossible to avoid. Learning to process difficult emotions is crucial to living a happy and productive life. Processing difficult emotions is not a skill that comes naturally to all people.
Time, effort, and practice are required in order to process difficult emotions effectively. Below are the steps to take in order to process difficult emotions.
Before you can learn to process your emotions, you need to make sure you avoid behaviors that trigger emotional numbness. A numbing behavior is an activity that you take part in to avoid facing your feelings. These activities can be done unconsciously or intentionally.
Common intentional numbing behaviors include video games, streaming videos nonstop, marathon tv or movie watching, food, drugs, and alcohol. The most common unconscious numbing behavior is over-committing yourself, so you stay constantly busy.
There is nothing wrong with partaking in any of these activities, as long as they are done in moderation and as long as they are not being done to avoid processing your emotions.
Most people do not fully understand how, where, and why their emotions are coming from. Typically, we base our emotional reasoning on an in-the-moment judgment call or we brush the emotions off completely.
We often clamp onto general emotions, such as happiness, sadness, and anger. When in reality, the emotion of “anger” can encompass frustration, annoyance, betrayal, or upset. Why are you feeling this way? What triggered your emotions? Learning to identify and understand your emotions will help you process them effectively.
Emotions can offer great insight into our lives and can help to propel us forward. Emotions allow us to recognize what we may need at that moment and overall. If you’re noticing you are constantly checking your social media pages and you feel anxiety if you’re not checking them nonstop, this could be your emotions telling you it’s time to take a break from social media.
If you’re feeling more and more irritated by coworker's comments, that could be your emotions telling you there is an underlying issue that should be investigated and approached.
Once you’ve identified both your emotions and have time to determine what they mean, you need to express them. Expressing emotions looks different for every person. Some people express emotions by talking to a friend, some engage in physical activity, and others create art or music. In order to fully process your emotions, you need to let them out.
Remember, emotional outlets should always be a safe space. Engaging in numbing, harmful, or illegal expressions will only worsen the circumstance.
Difficult emotions can be overpowering, and overwhelming, and can turn even the most respected and successful person into a hot mess. Learning to process difficult emotions is no easy feat. It takes time, effort, practice, and determination.
Identifying numbing behaviors, identifying your emotions, learning what your emotions are telling you, and expressing your emotions are the steps you need to take to truly process difficult emotions.
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Hi, my name is Melissa Ebken, and I'm so glad you found your way here.
I am at home in the difficult spaces of peoples’ lives, willing to listen and to support those who work to grow themselves. I am a trained coach and have consulted with churches in conflict. Not your stereotypical minister, I embrace the Gospel with joy and laughter as I seek to help those around me grow in faith and understanding, always striving to leave people better than they came. An agent of wholeness, I create a safe space for people, especially those who have been marginalized, where they can understand how ridiculously loved and valued they are by God/Higher Power/Spirit, and to experience the difference that makes in life.
I started the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast to share the stories of people who have faced life's most difficult challenges, to inspire you to lean into and overcome your own. It's helpful to know that you're not alone in your struggles and to see how others have navigated similar circumstances. You can listen to it here.
Here's what I can do for and with you.