Thursday, January 11, 2018

Loving your Emotions

by Catherine McLaughlin, MA, NCC, LPC

Emotions are defined as “a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others; instinctive or intuitive feeling as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge.” In other words, emotions are something that comes from within us, beyond our control, and naturally occurring. Despite what we may have been taught, emotions are not bad, wrong, or abnormal. Receiving this message can cause us to repress our emotions; to push them down or brace against them. Over time, this “emotional backlog” can cause issues. There’s nowhere for the emotions to go, but they have to come out. If you’ve ever had a clogged pipe in your house, then you know what happens next - the water just starts spraying out everywhere, all over everything. What a mess! 

And our repressed emotions don’t usually come out as what they were to begin with – they’ve morphed into something else. Health problems, intense anger, anxiety, depression… all painful expressions of the feelings hiding inside for so long. But there is a better way.

Feel your feeling – instead of shying away from feelings, as much as you can, allow yourself to feel them. This may take some work, as we have all received messages in our lives that some feelings are “bad” or “wrong.” Give yourself permission to sit with and really feel your feeling. It may be uncomfortable. But it will not last forever.

Acknowledge and name the feeling – what is it, exactly? Are you angry, or are you infuriated? Sad, or distraught? It is especially helpful to give your feeling a specific name. 

Allow the feeling to leave – when you allow yourself to feel and name your feeling, it should naturally resolve. Let it! Unnecessarily holding on to feelings can cause pain and suffering. 

By feeling, naming, and allowing emotions to resolve, we’re following the natural path of feelings moving through our bodies. If this is a struggle for you, or if you know you have an “emotional backlog” of your own, a therapist could help you to work through this process. We provide a safe place to experience the emotions and feelings that have been clogging up the pipe for so long. And we have lots of buckets to catch all the spraying water. 

Catherine McLaughlin loves working with people to identify and experience their emotions in order to feel like themselves again. She specializes in issues of adolescence, and working with artists and creatives. Contact her at 267-800-5073 or for a free 20 minute phone consultation or to get started in therapy today.

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