4 Tips to Stay Grounded in Your Emotions
We sometimes forget that we’re human.
It’s almost instinctive to recklessly fall into the trap of emotional perfectionism, holding and containing our emotions so tightly, showing others a masked, false representation of who we are. Instead, we allow unexpressed emotions to internally wreak havoc on our systems.
It’s the agonizing pain in the pit of our stomach, a nagging heaviness, a lingering fatigue or the explosive rage that keeps rising to the surface. Then the inevitable release of emotion happens, prompted by a final straw. Now, we’re exposed. Our inner world is now externally on display for others to witness.
The idea that we can choose to acknowledge and feel through our emotions has been quieted, and for some, even silenced. For good reason, we fear the emotional labels they’re emotional, they’re so angry, they can be explosive, they’re always crying.
Have we forgotten; we all lose our cool.
Emotions are meant to be felt. They prompt us to inquire within, freeing us from outdated narratives around emotional suppression. When we recklessly choose to feel comforting emotions only, negating the discomforting ones, we create more suffering. In fact, a study from the University of Texas found that we actually make emotions stronger when we don’t acknowledge them.
It’s time we permissively ditch the notion that we have to hold it all together. Here are four freeing ways to ground yourself in your emotions.
1. Evaluate and Re-Define: What is your relationship with feelings? Do you welcome all emotions as an opportunity to clear what needs to be observed and released? Or are you someone that cringes at the thought of emotions or makes efforts to distract from the uncomfortable ones?
When you honestly assess how you engage with your feelings, you create space to boldly provoke and bring to the surface underlying messages that influence your current relationship with feelings. What messages have you been given? How have others responded or reacted to your emotions?
Identifying your relationship status gives you the freedom to re-define how you choose to engage with your emotions, detaching from messages that no longer serve you and allowing you to connect to those emotional parts that are asking to be seen and heard.
2. Distract with Awareness: We all have moments when we feel out of sorts and what we do in these raw, emotionally overwhelming moments matters. This is where we separate avoidance from distraction. Avoidance is when emotions get neglected without any intention of returning to or addressing the emotion. Distraction, however, is a deliberate time-out, taking space to move away from the emotion for a period of time, yet mindfully returning to face the vulnerability.
Bottom line, distraction is an awareness to retract, then return. Remember, distraction isn’t a one-size-fits-all, so be sure to jot down a list of different distractions you can use in these big feeling moments.
3. Match or Mismatch: This tip is the go-to for when distraction practices don’t immediately remedy the emotional overwhelm. First, connect with yourself by describing in detail how your body feels in the moment. Then, ask yourself, what is it that my mind and body need right now?
Typically, if the energy in your body is moving with a higher intensity, it’s best to choose an exercise that will match the moving energy, whereas a heavier or slower energy would require a practice that meets the lower intensity. For instance, if you’re experiencing a sluggish energy, a high intensity workout is likely not the best immediate match, yet a slower breathing practice such as alternate-nostril breathing could be.
4. Self-Validation: Often times, we look to external sources to validate our emotional experience, yet what happens when we don’t receive the response we were needing or hoping for? Take a moment to pause and check-in with yourself. How do you typically respond when your emotions are invalidated by others?
Here’s the hard and messy truth. You have the power to validate your own emotional overwhelm and experiences. After all, you know you best. It’s time to re-connect with your internal resources and step-up to be your own emotional advocate.
What do you want to hear? What do you need most right now? How can you best be supported? Once you’ve answered these questions, engage in self-talk using the words or phrases you identified and permissively give yourself the support you need.
Big breath in, deep sigh out. As you curiously tune-in to your emotions, remember every emotion has a purpose. Emotions are intended to expand and flow, even the discomforting ones.
Christina Trujillo Sieren, is an author, speaker, and mom of two. Christina is a licensed psychotherapist with a private practice specializing in high-risk adolescents and families. Her focus is on helping people choose their “edge” and embrace the unknown that lies ahead. She is the Founder and Lead Coach of Unapparent Parenting, INC., where she provides coaching to parents of teens. Christina supports parents to question mainstream parenting concepts and embrace the messiest of moments, daring parents to re-define their most authentic parenting blueprint from the inside out. Christina is the author of Parenting Teen Girls: A Positive Parenting Approach to Raising Health, Independent Daughters. For more information and to connect with Christina, visit www.christinasieren.com.