This week I'm talking all about emotions. It's normal for women after divorce to feel like we are on an emotional rollercoaster that we can't get off. Our emotions can feel heavy, hard, exhausting and by the end of each day we lay down on our bed feeling emotionally and mentally overwhelmed wishing all the pain would just stop.
In today's podcast episode I'll be teaching you the three typical ways we've been taught to deal with our emotions and why those never work. I'll also be walking you through my 3 step method of processing through ANY emotion (even the hard and scary ones) so that you can step off the emotional rollercoaster of divorce and instead live a rich, full life.
Things you'll learn from this episode:
1. What an emotion actually is.
2. The three ways we've been taught to 'deal' with our emotions and why those aren't helping you to feel less emotional exhaustion and overwhelm.
3. My 3 step method to processing through any emotion.
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If you want to live your life without feeling emotionally drained, overwhelmed or exhausted -you can. I can teach you how and work with you until this becomes second nature. Think about how free you will feel to live your life knowing that you can handle anything because you won't be afraid to feel the emotions that show up with hard, challenging situations in life. If you want to know what it would look like to work with me to make this a reality, then schedule your free consult by clicking here and let's get you to living an even better life than when you were married.
Featured on this episode:
Interested in the Divorce Betrayal Transformation? Learn more here.
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Full Episode Transcript:
Welcome back to Becoming You Again. I’m your host Karin Nelson. I’m a certified divorce confidence coach and this is the podcast where I teach you how to reconnect with yourself, create emotional resiliency and live a truly independent life, so you can have an even better life than when you were married.
Hello my friends, welcome back to the podcast. We are going to talk about emotions today and specifically I’m going to be teaching you at the end of this podcast my three step method to processing through any emotion (and let’s be real – what I’m really talking about here is processing through any hard emotion, but you can use this method for the easy emotions as well). So make sure you stick around to the end of the podcast so that you learn my three step method.
But first let’s just talk about emotions in general, and as I go through this podcast you’ll hear me say emotions and feelings and I use those two words interchangeably but emotions are something that is unique to humans, at least in the a more sophisticated, complicated way. If you were to Google how many emotions are there, you will of course as only Google will do for us, get lots of different opinions on this. Some articles say 27, some say 8, some say 6. There’s articles out there that say there is 25 or 20 and I saw one go as high as 34,000 different emotions. And I really don’t think that knowing how many emotions there are is as important as understanding what emotions or feelings actually are.
An emotion or a feeling is one word. It’s like happy, sad, angry, frustrated, joyful, peaceful, anxious, surprised, disgusted, something like that.
But we get confused sometimes because often when someone asks us how we are feeling, we will give a sentence of an explanation for how we feel. For example, when I’m coaching a client and they tell me about something that their ex said and then I ask them how that made them feel – they might say, “It made me feel like nothing I ever do is good enough, even after the divorce. I just don’t feel like I can every do anything right.” And this is where I teach my clients that everything they just told me isn’t actually a feeling, even though they said, it makes me feel like…. What they told me are actually thoughts and those thoughts will make them feel something inside their body – that thing they feel inside their body is an emotion. It’s a feeling. So I ask them again, when you think “nothing you ever do is good enough even after the divorce”, how do you feel? What one word emotion do you feel? They might come back with something like I feel unworthy. I feel inadequate. I feel shameful. Something along those lines. I always want my clients to see and I want you to see the distinction between what are our thoughts and what are our emotions.
Our emotions will always be caused by something that we are thinking. What we feel inside of our body, the actual emotion is a series of chemicals and hormones that our brain releases instantaneously after thoughts that move down into our body and shows up in certain different ways. The idea of learning to process our emotions which is what I’m teaching you on today’s podcast is learning that when we feel an emotion – we process it by getting out of our heads and getting out of the thoughts and the drama that our brain is continually creating and instead paying attention to what is happening inside our body when we are feeling emotions. Again, I’m going to walk you through this 3 step method of processing an emotion in just a few minutes so don’t worry. If it sounds confusing I promise once I walk you through it, it will make so much more sense.
All right, so no one ever really teaches us how to process through emotions and that’s why when we feel some of the ‘hard’ emotions they seem really scary and they seem hard and they seem heavy. There are three ways that are typical in society that we deal with emotions.
And typically if we haven’t learned to properly process through your emotions, then you’ll feel an emotion that is uncomfortable you’ll one of three things:
1. We’ll try and avoid it.
2. We’ll act out on it.
3. Or we’ll push it down and try and go apathetic.
So let’s talk about each of these so that you have an idea of what they look like.
When we avoid our emotions it can look like seeking comfort from something outside of us. It’s like, I’m feeling this uncomfortable thing and I don’t want to feel it and so instead I’m going to eat some chocolate, or I’m going to go numb myself a little with a drink, or maybe I’ll binge that new show on Netflix so I can check out for a while, or oh this video game looks fun or how about some porn, or so many other things that we will use as a way to comfort ourselves in an effort to avoid feeling that uncomfortable feeling. Sometimes we do this subconsciously and sometimes we are consciously choosing to numb out from the emotion. This is something that is often taught as an acceptable way to deal with our emotions in society. So I want you to think about this. Did your mom ever take you to get a treat if you had a bad day or if you were sad she took you out to get ice cream to try to make you feel better? Mine did and I honestly used to do this with my own kids, before I knew any different. But the problem with this is when we try and cover up and avoid what we’re actually feeling we are essentially telling ourselves or telling our children that feeling our emotions, especially the hard, uncomfortable ones is wrong. We’re essentially saying life isn’t supposed to include those icky emotions. Life is only supposed to feel good and happy and if we feel uncomfortable, or scared, or we feel a hard negative emotion then we need to fix it as quickly as possible. And it’s just not true. That is why what I am going to teach you today is so important.
The second way that you may be dealing with your emotions is to act out on them. I’ve talked about this in previous podcast episodes but often when I’m teaching my clients how to process through their emotions they think that what I’m really saying to them is to act out on their emotions and there’s a very distinct difference. So let me give you some examples of what it means to act out on your emotions. If you’re angry and you throw something, hit something, stomp your feet, yell, scream, those are all ways of acting out on that emotion.
If you’re feeling disrespected you might tell the other person off, get up in their face yelling and pointing fingers, demand respect, commit road rage, try to control someone else in an extreme way, or take someone’s privileges away. Something like that.
You can see that someone who is acting out on their emotions is feeling the emotion and then following that up with actions that aren’t things that would be typically coming from their highest self. And here’s why, when we act out on our emotions we aren’t processing through them. What we’re actually doing is allowing our primitive brain to take over and revert to childish unintentional behavior. But when you know how to process through your emotions, which I’m going to teach you, processing the emotion is never an outside action – it’s an inside focus.
And then the last way that we typically have been taught to deal with our emotions is to avoid it altogether and pretend it’s not there. We think I’m just not capable of feeling this. It’s too hard. It hurts too much. It’s too exhausting and so we just want to pretend like it’s not there. We try to go apathetic, we try to push the emotion down and not feel it or anything really. We resist it and we wish that it would go away faster. Or we think I’m so done with this. I wish I didn’t have to deal with feeling this way. I wish that this would go away. I don’t understand why I continue to feel this way. It’s been here too long. Hasn’t it been long enough? And then we try and resist feeling what we’re actually feeling. But trying to avoid our emotions or resisting them isn’t helping them go away faster and it isn’t actually making us get rid of the emotion. All it’s doing is making that emotion stronger and making it stick around longer.
It’s kind of like, we’ll if I just don’t think about it or pretend like it’s not there then it will just go away. I’ll just ignore it and then maybe I can feel better. But that’s not what’s really happening. Right? The more we ignore it and pretend the harder that emotion tries to get our attention. And then we’re spending all of our energy trying to pretend that we’re not feeling what we’re feeling. We end up feeling emotionally and mentally exhausted and underneath all of that exhaustion and emotional overwhelm we are still feeling whatever hard emotion we’ve been trying to avoid. It’s still there. It hasn’t magically disappeared or gone away.
It’s like a dam in a river. If you let the water flow through, it does just that, it flows through. Right? But if you build a dam all the pressure builds up behind it and eventually the water will burst through. And so it’s that same way with emotions. If we just let them flow they’ll flow through us. They’ll move through us. But if we build it up and try and resist and try and pretend like it’s not there, they build up behind us and then they burst out, eventually.
So these three ways of dealing with our emotions aren’t serving us in any way. They are keeping you stuck. They are keeping you in overwhelm and feeling exhausted. They are keeping you from being your highest self and really creating a full, real human experience.
I want you to think about this. If you were willing to feel and process through any emotion that showed up – even the hard ones – your life would be so much richer. You would be confident. You would be willing to fill your life up with really worthwhile experiences because you wouldn’t be afraid of what you might feel as you experience those things.
What would your life be like right now if you weren’t afraid of feeling sad, or scared, or anxious, or rejected? You would apply for that job that pays way more money which would help you better provide for you and your kids. You would be willing to set boundaries with your ex that you follow through with because you’re willing to feel the fear that goes along with standing up for yourself. You would be willing to risk feeling rejection and being vulnerable for a chance at finding someone to love again. You would be willing to get to know yourself on a deep level because you would allow yourself to feel lonely in order to connect with yourself on a level that you maybe never even have before.
When you can learn to process through your emotions your whole life opens up to new possibility. So how do we process through an emotion? In the most simple terms we open ourselves up to it. Like I explained earlier in the podcast, an emotion is what’s happening inside our body. It’s a chemical and hormonal response that creates a sensation, a physical sensation in our body. So when I’m teaching my clients how to process through an emotion the first thing we do is take a deep breath in and then we let it out slowly. Then we name the emotion. Then we witness what it looks like inside the body. Where do you feel it? What does it look like? Is it a color? Does it move? Get as specific as you can – like you are trying to describe it to someone who has literally never experienced it before.
What this method of processing your emotions does is it takes you out of your head and it helps you allow the emotion to move through you. Emotions are like a tunnel – the only way to the other side is through it.
So let me give you an example of me processing through an emotion so you can have a better understanding of what this looks like. Let’s say my ex is a month behind on child support and then I get a text that he is going on vacation with his girlfriend and he won’t be able to take the kids for his weekend. I am thinking, what a piece of shit. He’s a month behind on child support but he has enough money to go on vacation and now he can’t take the kids for his weekend. Ugh, I hate him so much.
And because of all of those thoughts and what’s happening in my head I’m feeling angry. So instead of stepping into one of the three typical ways of dealing with that anger – I decide I’m just going to try and process through this feeling of anger.
So I take a deep breath in and I let it out slow. Then I say to myself, I’m feeling angry right now. And then I focus on my body and what’s going on inside. I notice that my cheeks are red hot. I notice that my throat feels tight and constricted. I notice that my heart is beating faster than normal. I notice that my arms and my hands feel tight and the muscles are clenched. I notice that my stomach feels heavy and it feels hard. It’s black boiling hard liquid that is somehow moving up and down my abdomen. And as I notice all of this inside of me, the anger begins to feel less strong. It’s still there, but it’s just not as intense. And I start to go about my day again, but then I have some more thoughts about his text and how incapable he is of being a good co-parent and a dad, and how I’m so mad at myself for not seeing it before and wasting so much of my life with him and I start to feel angry again. So I take a deep breath in and let it out slow. I remind myself that I’m feeling angry and then I get back into my body and I notice what’s happening. Oh, there’s my red hot cheeks again. Yep, my hands and arms feel clenched and tight. There’s that boiling black liquid moving up and down my abdomen. My heart is beating fast. Okay, it’s starting to feel a little bit lighter. It’s dissipating. Alright, I’ve got this. And then I go about my day again. And more thoughts come and the anger comes back in waves and I’ll continue to go through this process as much as I need to. As often as I need to.
The really great thing about processing through your emotions is the more you do it the better you get and the easier it becomes to move through the emotions. And it’s also really important to realize that emotions come in waves. It’s like often a big wave of a hard emotion will hit us and then we process through it and then the thoughts come back and we’ll feel the smaller wave and then the smaller wave and so on and so on and it gets easier and easier and feels less and less intense the more willing we are to get inside our body and notice what’s happening.
Processing through emotions takes practice. Because no one teaches us how to do this, it can seem hard at first. It can seem uncomfortable. You will get back in your head quickly and you will lose focus of what you are doing and that is all totally normal. When I’m working with my clients and I walk them through this process in usually our first few sessions and then with almost every single client we will go through this process together several other times as I help them and teach them how to get good at doing it on their own. So I don’t want you to get upset with yourself if you try this once and it doesn’t work out or it feels hard or weird or you immediately go back into your thoughts. That’s all normal. Just remember that the more you practice this the easier it will get and the better you will be at really allowing your emotions to be a part of you, which will only lead to a more richer life experience.
And of course if you want my help and guidance with this which I do with all of my clients and it is definitely easier to do with someone there guiding you through, asking you the questions, really helping you to identify what is happening inside of you, you can come work with me. I work one-on-one with clients and that opportunity is definitely available to you. You can click the link in the show notes to get more information about that.
All right my friends that’s what I have for you today. I will talk to you next week.
If you like what you heard on today’s podcast and you want to know more about working 1:1 with me, you can go to www.karinnelsoncoaching.com and schedule your free consult to find out more. That’s www dot Karin nelson coaching dot com.
Thanks for listening. If this podcast episode agreed with you in any way, please take a minute to follow, rate and leave a comment. And for more details make sure to check out the show notes by clicking the link in the description.