Be completely honest with yourself for a minute. If you’re reading this article, you likely already know what I’m going to say: when it comes to “turning off your emotions,” unfortunately, you can’t. What’s more, you shouldn’t even try.
Negative emotions are an inevitable part of life. As much as you can attempt to run from them, eventually, they’ll catch up to you.
What’s more, when they finally do, they’ll likely do more damage as a result of all that unresolved build-up! Instead of trying to turn off your emotions, you should make an effort to understand them, build a healthy routine of coping mechanisms, and learn how to redirect those negative feelings into something positive.
By making an effort now to take hold of your emotions, you can save yourself from a lot of self-inflicted heartache in the future. Read on to learn more about how you can transform your feelings by learning how to embrace them!
Understand Your Feelings
Emotions are tricky. As much as it can feel like they are just happening “to” you, they don’t. True, you don’t have a choice about whether or not these feelings occur, but that doesn’t mean you are left as a helpless victim, subject to the whims of your feelings.
With practice, you’ll find that you’re more in control of your heart than you might have thought. Before you can control your emotions, however, you have to understand where they come from.
The first step to controlling your emotions is to reframe the way you think of them. Try to imagine these emotions you are trying to turn “off” in a new light; picture them as water filling a bottle.
When you pour water into a bottle, there’s only so much you can take before the bottle fills, spilling over the surface to create a mess. You can try to stop the flow, but eventually, that water has to go somewhere.
This really only leaves you with two options: ignore the water and the mess it’s quickly creating, or handle the situation by redirecting the flow.
Negative feelings can leave you feeling overwhelmed, completely filled with the stress and anxiety these feelings bring. You likely feel a bit like that bottle, pressed to the limit under the pressure of all that water.
Whether you like it or not, those feelings aren’t going anywhere. They are as real and present as the water spilling out of the top of the bottle, splashing over the floor.
Don’t ignore your emotions. All you’re accomplishing in doing so is creating a mess. A mess you’ll have to deal with sooner or later anyway.
Instead, understand that these feelings are real, valid, and deserving of your full attention.
Come to Terms with Why You Feel the Way You Do
Sadness can take a physical toll on your body. If you find yourself feeling oddly achy, unable to sleep, or nauseous, there may not actually be a problem with your physical health. Your issues could be traced back to an emotional source.
Your first mission is to come to terms with what exactly is making you so upset.
If you’re trapped in an unhealthy relationship, make the real-life changes you need to correct the situation. If your job is causing you actual misery, it might be time for a change. Whatever the cause of your unhappiness is, you should start by ripping that weed up by the root before it infects the rest of your life.
Even after taking action in your daily life, these feelings will linger. If you’ve ever gone through a tricky breakup, you already know that, unfortunately, those bad feelings don’t leave the second your toxic partner does. After taking the appropriate actions to change your life, your next step should be to develop the coping strategies you need to heal.
Find Coping Strategies
The best way to control your emotions is to anticipate them before they happen and assemble a healthy toolbox of coping strategies. If you can decide when you’re feeling “good” how to best take care of yourself, it won’t seem as difficult to recover when you’re feeling worse.
Try out a few of these common methods:
- Journaling: Many people find that in putting their thoughts on paper (or laptop screen), they are able to take some of the actual pressure off their minds. If you don’t consider yourself a writer or the thought feels uncomfortable, try formatting this journal the way you would a letter. It turns the strategy into more of a conversation.
- Let yourself cry: For real. It’s not great to wallow in your sadness, but every now and then, it just feels good to throw yourself a little pity party.
- Talk it out: Talking with a friend is great. Talking with a therapist is better. Contrary to popular opinions, therapists aren’t just pals paid to listen to your problems. In many ways, they are educators, helping you learn which strategies work best for you.
- Exercise: It’s become a bit of a joke that people who suffer from clinical depression are frequently told they can “cure” themselves with exercise. Despite the cliche, there really is some truth hidden in the joke. Exercise creates endorphins, which trigger happier, healthier emotions. Even a simple walk in the outdoors can leave you feeling better connected to the world around you, serving as a reminder that, in the end, your sadness is a temporary “blip.”
- Take a shower: Preferably, a hot one. When you’re upset, a steaming, relaxing shower can go miles in helping soothe both your body and your mind.
What works for one person may not work for everyone else. It’s important not to get discouraged when trying out different strategies for making yourself feel better when you’re sad.
One Last Thing…
When you find yourself in a cycle of negative emotions, the best way to redirect those feelings is to take care of yourself, even when you don’t feel like it. When your appetite seems to vanish into thin air, force yourself to nibble on healthy snacks. Drink plenty of water; avoid drugs and alcohol. Rest as much as you can.
Imagine that a close friend entrusted you with the care of their child for an entire month.
How would you treat this child? Would you give in to whatever it feels like doing in the immediate moment? No.
You’d make it do the right thing for its own health and wellbeing, even if it pitched a fit. When you’re sad, treat yourself like that child.