Stop Ignoring Your Emotions, They Aren’t Going Away

It’s spring 2021, it seems as though most people are attempting to forget 2020 and run towards a life that feels more satisfying. An interesting observation is that 90% of our coaching clients are experiencing the same challenge: intense emotions that feel uncomfortable and won’t go away. It’s like 2020 opened the floodgates and out poured feelings, many of which had been rejected, repressed or ignored for a long time. Now it’s ride or die. You’re floating down the river, or maybe you are in emotional white water, the point is, it’s time to understand and face the feelings.

Emotions, or feelings are your spontaneous physiological responses to your interpretation of whatever your senses are taking in. (Often referred to as sensory data, this is the information you take in with your sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch.) We interpret what we experience or “take in” based on memories and stored data that includes beliefs, thoughts, judgements, assumptions and imprints from past experiences.

Emotions happen inside you.

We experience changes in our body when emotions are active. This can be a change in heart rate, blood flow and hormonal activity.

Six Basic Emotions
Across cultures we recognize six basic emotions:

Happiness

Sadness

Anger

Fear

Disgust

Surprise

If we go beyond the basics, other emotions include:

Annoyed

Anxious

Ashamed

Blissful

Calm

Cautious

Comfortable

Connected

Content

Disappointed

Discouraged

Eager

Elated

Embarrassed

Encouraged

Enthusiastic

Envious

Excited

Frightened

Frustrated

Glad

Guilty

Hurt

Irritated

Jealous

Joyful

Numb

Peaceful

Pleased

Proud

Relieved

Resentful

Satisfied

Scared

Terrified

Uneasy

If you are ignoring, and have been rejecting your emotions for days, years (or like some, decades), it’s important that you stop pretending they don’ exist and learn to “name” your emotions. First, do it for yourself only. Name it in your head or in a journal. The list above can help you to understand and acknowledge exactly what you are feeling.

In healthy people, emotions don’t just show up for no reason. They are indicators attempting to get your attention and send you a message. When we take in sensory data that we interpret as negative or threatening, we most likely will feel “triggered” into an emotional response that is unpleasant. If we interpret the data of a situation as positive, you most likely will experience positive and pleasant emotions.

Emotions are a reflection of experience and usually are rational and often, predictable. Also, if your emotions are not driven by physical or mental illness and/or distorted by alcohol or drugs, they will function as an accurate gauge of situations.

The better you know your body, the better you will be at picking up the cues it is sending you. Most emotions comes with internal sensations in the body. A well known example is someone feeling a sensation in their stomach when he or she is afraid, excited or exhilarated.

Emotions can’t be successfully controlled by ignoring or denying them. If you have unresolved or deeply held emotions that you have repressed or ignored, when triggered they may signal like a strong, loud alarm. This means your body is telling you this situation needs attention.

For most of us, 2020 was a year of disruption, confusion, fear and uncertainty. Our personal and work lives were impacted by the pandemic while waves of social unrest, discord and upheaval added to the “triggering” of deep fears and concerns about survival. When your most primal fears are triggered in your body for any sustained amount of time, it is going to have an effect on your life — usually in both waking hours and in sleep pattern interruption. Prolonged and repetitive triggering and stress in body can create disease.

Acknowledging the intense emotions are an important part of you gaining control and feeling better. This means admit they exist. Talk about how you feel with someone “safe” and objective. Finding the right resources and/or a professional to help you understand and transmute the intense negative emotions could be the most important gift you give yourself this year.

And once you start feeling free of anxiety and emotional baggage you will positively impact others. You can use your new skills to create a safe environment for relationships, both personal and work, to be trusting and fertile ground for constructive problem solving and decision making which is essential in times of uncertainty.

Illustration @dima_liner

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