Recording: Learning to Process Your Emotions

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This audio talks about the difference between feelings and emotions. It also describes how to process your emotions.

 

Psychologist Will Meek has developed a simple 5 part process for people to manage their emotions. The

main process was developed by researchers Kennedy-Moore and Watson, in their book Expressing

Emotion (2001). The basic idea here is that when you are feeling something, you can pause and work

through these five steps to help you deal with the feelings in a constructive manner.

 

  1. Sensing

The first step is to scan your body and identify the types of sensations happening in your body. Is your

stomach turning? Is your jaw clenched? Is there a lump in your throat? Is your face flush? If you skip this

step it will leave you out of touch with your body. Remember, feelings are energy states in the body.

 

  1. Naming

Once you have the physical feelings down, it is important to accurately name the emotion. We have

many more emotions than what we use words for. It’s easy to mislabel these or use words that aren’t

very specific. We may say we felt “off” or “bad” but these don’t convey the exact emotion. When you

can be accurate and use the exact feelings like “guilty,” “anxious,” or “jealous,” you are more able to

accurately deal with the specific emotion.

 

To learn to identify and label your emotions download this Emotions List. 

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  1. Attributing

Once you have accurately identified the emotion, you can then determine what caused it. Emotions are

almost always caused by a trigger of some sort, even though the trigger may not be obvious to us.

Sometimes we seem to feel sad for no reason, but we may have been triggered by something we

encountered that triggered a memory or thought and that in turn triggered the feeling. Sometimes,

feelings are triggered but we don’t feel them until later when there is a time and place for it. In essence,

the feeling catches up to us and that can surprise us and feel like the feeling came out of nowhere.

 

Sometimes our feelings are an accumulation of many different triggers. This is the case of the straw that

broke the camel’s back. This is where a particular incident, which may have seemed fairly trivial, caused

a very strong overreaction in you but many other things may have contributed to it that made your

reaction seem so extreme. Maybe you had also been under extreme stress at work, and because of that

not sleeping as well. All these factors can play into having a strong emotional reaction over something.

 

  1. Evaluating

In this step we ask ourselves how we feel about having the emotion. How we answer this question will

depend on our comfort with certain emotions. For example, if we are brought up to believe anger is bad

or not spiritual, we will feel guilty about being angry. This in turn, adds another emotion to the feeling of

anger. Some of us feel more comfortable feeling sad than we do angry, or vice versa. We can often get

stuck in a particular feeling because we don’t want to feel the real feeling below it. This is often the case

of feeling angry, because underneath anger is often fear or sadness.

 

Many people struggle with feeling their more negative or powerful emotions. There is a place for all

emotions. Emotions aren’t good or bad; they just are. Each of them serves a purpose. Emotions are

messengers about what’s happening inside of us or out in the world. Without them, we wouldn’t have

an emotional compass in which to navigate our world.

 

  1. Acting

After going through the following 4 steps, it’s time to take action based on the information you have

received. We need to decide whether it’s appropriate to express the emotion and in what way. If it’s a

lingering emotion, we also need to think about how we’re going to cope with it. This is why it’s

important to have coping strategies in place to deal with your emotions. Emotional eating is often an

attempt to deal with strong or uncomfortable feelings. If you have no clear cut plan or other options in

place, you will wind up overeating.

 

*For strategies to deal with your feelings, refer to the Self-Soothing Pleasures list that is included in this module. You can choose something that you find soothing, or releases the energy, or if it is a lingering emotion, you can choose something that distracts you from the feeling.

 

 

To see how our bodies respond to and where we store specific emotional energy states in the body, check out the body map of emotions at the end of this post.

https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/early/2013/12/26/1321664111.full.pdf

 

©2022 -How You do Food is How You do Life – Catherine L. Taylor, howyoudofood.com

 

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