Why Am I So Emotional?
This is a theme that repeats itself with my clients. Every few months there is a trend of my clients telling me they are so emotional and basically, they're over it. One client had a breakdown at work. Another client is barely holding it together. Another is losing her cool with her kids. All are asking the same questions. Why am I so emotional right now? Why can’t I get it together?
Here was my short answer: You are experiencing overwhelming emotions right now because you haven’t been giving them the attention they deserve and require.
Your emotions are like an early detection system. Your feelings are data that you can use. Your emotions give you information about what is important to you, what you need, what your values are, how to take care of yourself, etc. You can either listen to and consider the information this early detection system is giving you or you can ignore it.
I’m pretty sure you’ve heard some form of this before. Don’t stuff your emotions. Let your emotions out, etc. But I am betting most of you do your best to ignore that early detection system. Instead of considering the data it is giving you, because it might be uncomfortable or inconvenient, you push it aside and ignore it. Or, tell yourself it isn’t important.
What’s the big deal if I push down a little irritation, anger, sadness, or anxiety?
Well, over time, you end up pushing your emotions down over and over again. It adds up. It clogs that early detection system. Then, when there is a truly stressful situation in your life, you don’t have the emotional reserves to handle it.
What does that look like? It looks like your emotions coming out all at once at the worst possible moment. Like, losing it in a meeting at work. Or, not being able to stop crying as you’re picking up your kids from school. Or screaming at someone over something trivial.
What if you were to pay attention to that early detection system? When you feel something, feel it. Really let yourself feel it. It's been proven that emotions last, on average, 90 seconds. That's it. Then it's on to a new feeling. If you sit with you feelings, and don't avoid them or push them down, they move through you very quickly.
When you feel an emotion, put a name to it. When you feel a feeling (especially and uncomfortable one), name it. Am I angry? Am I irritated? Am I afraid? Give it a name.
Then, ask yourself what’s really going on. What is this emotion trying to tell me? What do I need right now? Do you need to go for a walk and cool off? Do you need a day off work? Do you need to eat? This might sound trivial but it isn’t. If you start to address your emotions as you have them and stop fighting them, they move through you. It’s when you fight them, argue with them or try to ignore them that things get tough. And, the more you deny your feelings, the longer they stick around.
Be curious about your feelings. Let them be a guide to what you need. A feeling only lasts a matter of minutes if you lean into it. If you fight it or try to ignore it, it will persist. Now go feel all the feels!