How to Work with Our Feelings When They’re Bigger and Stronger Than We Want Them to Be
It’s not uncommon for Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs) to have strong emotional reactions to things. We may not be able to control our initial reaction(s), but we can learn ways to master how we choose to respond. I talk about a recent experience where I had a bigger emotional and physical reaction to a situation, and I share the tools that I used to move through this experience.
- Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) are deep thinkers and deep feelers. This means we are likely to respond more to things than others do.
- There is nothing wrong with having a strong emotional reaction to something
- We can learn tools to master how we choose to respond (which is different than the reaction that we have)
- When we find ourselves having a strong emotional reaction, it’s really important to name what’s going on
- This doesn’t mean we have to DO anything. The practice of observing what’s happening; identifying it, and stating what’s going on (naming it), is the first step
- To me, the word reaction is what happens automatically. I don’t have control over my initial reaction. It’s what happens internally. I don’t have to DO anything about my initial reaction
- What I do after I have a reaction is what I call my response. I have time to feel my feels, think about my reaction, and then I choose how I want to respond
- I share about having to go clothes shopping to buy some pants for a 7 day silent retreat I will be attending, and how this triggered an emotional reaction
- While shopping, I got triggered with body-image issues; my issues around spending money came up, and all of a sudden, sweets looked really appealing to me (because I was having feelings)
- In spite of mastering my emotional reactions/responses in other areas of my life, this was an area that I hadn’t had an opportunity to apply new skills to
- I found myself feeling tired, overwhelmed, discourages (in spite of having found what I needed—the shopping trip was a success, but my feelings told me otherwise
- Often we have expectations that we’re not even aware of. Then when something unexpected happens, we find ourselves upset, frustrated, disappointed, and we don’t understand why we’re feeling this way.
- When this happens, it’s not uncommon for us to go into self-blame—there’s something wrong with me; I shouldn’t be feeling this way.
- We also tend to negate our experience because we’re having strong feelings
- Often when we’re having uncomfortable feelings, the mind wants to make up stories to match our intense feelings, and this often begins what I call circling the drain. This is NOT a helpful place that we go
- We often judge our feelings, and THAT’S what makes us feel badly!
- When we can just allow our feelings to be, and curiously observe them, they are not as strong and powerful.
- When we judge our feelings, we feel worse, and we tend to stay in those uncomfortable feelings longer, and we continue to make up stories in our head to justify the uncomfortable feelings
- We can look with curiosity—what happened? What came up for you? What were your expectations?
- When we don’t name our feelings, the feelings can feel bigger than we are—that can be scary and overwhelming
- We are bigger than our feelings
- Feelings are just feelings—they come and go
- When we focus on the process—the actual steps we took (I went shopping; I tried on clothes; I looked for things; I experienced some body-image; I had money issues come up; I felt uncomfortable) and we emphasize what we DID and not the outcome, this creates a shift
- We may still be having feelings; that’s ok. The goal is NOT to get rid of the feelings. It’s to observe them; feel them; name them and honor them
- We CAN tolerate uncomfortable feelings
- We can also predispose that when we engage in certain activities, we may feel disappointed, frustrated, low energy etc. This helps to “prepare” us for feelings that may come up
- I’ve found it really helpful to “set the bar really low” so that no matter what happens, we experience success
- Many HSPs tend to have really high expectations, so we often feel frustrated and angry with ourselves due to perceived failure, when in fact, we just have really unrealistic expectations
- When you find yourself reacting, you can get really curious and think about how is it you think you’re “supposed” to be feeling, or how you want to be feeling
- It’s important to allow yourself a LOT of grace for where you’re at
- It’s temporary; you will feel differently later on. It’s just a blip on the radar
- When we fight the feelings/reactions/responses we’re having, it causes US more suffering
- It can be messy, uncomfortable and it takes a lot of practice to learn to be with our feelings, but there are so many gifts on the other side of the discomfort
- The more we practice, the more we get mastery over being with our feelings and moving through them
Patricia Young is a Life Coach in California. Patricia works with Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) helping them understand their HSP traits, and turning their perceived shortcomings into superpowers. Patricia is passionate about providing education to help HSPs and non-HSPs understand and truly appreciate all the gifts we have to offer. Patricia works globally online with HSPS providing coaching. We meet over a private platform (similar to Skype), and you can have coaching from the privacy of your own home—when the kids are at school or are napping; from work; in your pajamas, or when you just can’t face sitting in traffic or going out. Patricia also facilitates online specialty groups for HSPs.
Facebook group Unapologetically Sensitive– https://www.facebook.com/groups/2099705880047619/
Music– Gravel Dance by Andy Robinson www.andyrobinson.com