1. Become Aware of the Emotion You Are Experiencing. This seems simple and self explanatory, however, there are some people who have suppressed their emotions for so long, they may not know how to identify an emotion much less become aware of it. If you are one of these people, a place to begin is a feelings chart. Check in with your feelings daily using a feelings chart. Begin to become aware of the body sensations that arise in situations, and when you sense them, check in and ask yourself what emotions you are experiencing (using the feeling words chart if necessary). When you are able to identify and have the awareness of when an emotion is arising (rather than simply reacting automatically from instinct), the emotion will hold less power over you.
2. Acknowledge & Accept the Emotion without Judgement. Internalizing and repressing our emotions is no more productive than over-expressing them. When we internalize an emotion, it increases stress on our body physically causing symptoms like irritability, headaches, tension, and increased blood pressure. Furthermore, denying or judging our emotions can send us into a negative spiral of thought and emotion that only leads to nonproductive action that may not only impact our own lives, but the lives of those around us. When you acknowledge (give being) and grant acceptance for any emotion that comes up without judging whether it "should" or "shouldn't" be there, you then get to choose what's next regarding that emotion. This further empowers your choice in the matter of whatever you are experiencing in the moment. When you separate yourself from the emotion you are experiencing, and that gives you more power.
3. Put Your Emotions into Proper Perspective. Many times we either make our emotions mean something, or we get thrown into an emotion because we made an experience or situation mean something rather than simply looking at what is happening in the moment without interpretation or judgement. The next time you experience an emotion around some incident try this exercise: Look at "What is actually occuring" then look at "what are you interpreting that to mean" (either about yourself or the other person). You may see that you are creating a meaning around a person or situation without clarifying what really is so. This is something that is VERY common for us to do as human beings. We make everything mean something. Try taking the meaning out of situations and seeing them for what they are rather than making them mean something about you or the other person.
4. Communicate Your Emotions Honestly. – Once you've acknowledged, accepted, and put your emotion(s) into their proper perspective, then you are free to communicate them honestly bringing no blame, condescension, sarcasm, drama, or over-exaggeration to the conversation. The best way to communicate is to keep it simple. Try this thee step formula:
- Acknowledge the other person for being willing to be a safe space for your expression (even if you are not sure they are, you can create them that way for yourself in the conversation).
- Express what you are feeling, and why in just a few sentences.
- Ask the other person what they can hear or see in what you said. Then just listen. Agree of disagree, allow the space for dialogue, and as emotion arise, notice them, identify them, put them in perspective, and move forward.
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