Life can throw a lot of unpredictable curveballs, and when those happen, it can be difficult to manage your feelings and emotions. Having emotions (even the strongest ones) are totally normal but learning to process and manage them is key to living a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
If you have trouble managing difficult feelings, consider these tips to improve your skills.
1. Learn how to identify the specific emotion(s) you’re feeling in the moment.
Identifying emotions is tough stuff. In the heat of a moment, you may think you feel one certain way, but upon further reflection, you realize you’re actually experiencing a whole conglomeration of mixed emotions! This is totally normal, though it can feel miserable. A great way to begin processing and managing these feelings is to identify each emotion.
For example, pretend your partner has made you incredibly angry because they promised to do something and then didn’t meet their end of the deal. Because they didn’t keep their promise, you have to clean up a big mess.
In the moment, you might feel like picking a fight with them because you’re so angry but take a moment to tear apart that anger and understand what else is fueling it.
You’re angry about them not keeping the promise, but you might also feel betrayed….someone you trust just let you down.
You might also feel a little sad because you thought you could trust them, but they showed you otherwise. Often, our biggest and most reactive feelings have a whole package of different emotions behind them!
2. Trade your negative vocabulary for more positive phrasing.
Often, people make managing difficult emotions worse because of the way they speak to themselves about them. Having tough emotions is normal and being kind to yourself is one way to manage them.
If you make an embarrassing mistake, you may immediately think to yourself, “I am the dumbest person ever.” This negative self-talk is only going to stir even more tough feelings inside yourself.
Instead, accept the embarrassment, but change your phrasing to be more positive and forward-thinking: “I made a mistake, but I will make sure I don’t do that again in the future.”
3. Don’t be afraid to reach out to somebody you trust.
When difficult feelings become too much to handle, it’s tempting to turn inward and try to fix the problems ourselves. However, this can be a dangerous move.
Hiding or suppressing difficult feelings and emotions can become a huge burden to bear alone. After a while, the balancing act of trying to keep difficult feelings tampered down can lead to negative side effects.
When your emotions and feelings become too big to handle alone, find a trusted friend you can talk to about them. Sharing your feelings with someone you trust can relieve some of the stress of those emotions from your mind.
4. Get comfortable with accepting (and even embracing) difficult feelings.
Unfortunately, life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. When things get tough, your emotions and feelings can be taken through the wringer, but this is totally normal. A good way to begin managing difficult feelings is to accept them.
Psychology Today explains that trying to brush difficult feelings aside to force a positive facade can be really damaging and dangerous to your health. Instead, learn to accept tough feelings so you can begin to process them more efficiently.
5. Find a way to keep track of your feelings and emotions.
If you’re trying to identify patterns and potential triggers for certain difficult feelings you experience, consider keeping a mood tracker or log.
Keeping a physical record can make it easier to understand how frequently and when you’re experiencing serious emotional changes so you can learn your triggers and prepare yourself for future encounters with them.
6. Find a healthy outlet to release stored emotions and feelings.
Managing your difficult feelings should never involve hurting yourself or others. Rather than moodily picking an argument with a friend or loved one, learn to channel difficult emotions into an outlet of some kind.