Our MSC group this week focused on how to deal with difficult emotions. Just the topic alone can activate the best of us. Just notice what happens inside your body as you read this blog. Maybe your stomach is feeling a tad bit queasy, or you can detect a slight tightening of muscles in your shoulders, jaw or someplace else. Facing into our difficult emotions of anger, fear, sadness and grief is not for the faint of heart. Many of us were raised with a narrow range of acceptable emotions. In my family, happiness was widely supported. Other more challenging emotions, not so much.
One of the most helpful techniques to begin to make space for the harder emotions is to begin to label them. Let’s say I have had a difficult interaction with a close friend and I am left feeling furious. Best strategy would be to internally say, “This is anger”. When we can label emotions in this way, we can disentangle our relationship with the strong emotion and at the same time get a bit more freedom and space around it. As with any new behavior, this one takes practice.
Give it a try! You might be pleased with what you discover.