Vent, Reflect, Think Positive, & Resolve for Your Emotional Health
Getting cut off in traffic. Receiving that raging email. None of us like to have things like that happen. But when they do, how do you handle it? Do you smile and hope it all just goes away? While it might blow over sometimes, other times that’s just not enough.
When you are in a highly charged emotional state, you have to express your feelings. Otherwise they will soak into your energy system, causing more problems later and making it tougher to get them out. It’s kind of like spilling red wine on the couch. You better get it up right away or it is most likely never coming out!
On the other hand, losing your cool, having a tantrum, freaking out — whatever you call it — may leave you feeling worse, or having to repair damaged relationships. Fortunately, there’s an alternative to blowing up or bottling up your feelings: writing down your emotions with an old-fashioned pen or pencil on a piece of paper.
Writing down strong emotions on paper allows you to get them out of your system in a productive way. It can help you access thoughts and feelings, identify and release those that are troubling you, shift your perspective, and even resolve disagreements.
Here are some tips for using journaling to express and resolve emotions:
1. Write out everything that has you upset. You may not have a clear idea of what that is when you start writing, but once you start, you will be amazed at what you put down on paper. It doesn’t have to make much sense, be spelled correctly, or have the right grammar. Just vent until you feel like you are done. This may take a while, especially if it has been a while since you let things out.
2. Put the shoe on the other foot. After you get your frustrations down on paper, it’s time to shift your perspective. If you are upset with a person, think about their point of view. Whether you know the person or you don’t know the person, you can ask yourself a few questions to help you look at the situation a different way. Consider what they may be going through. If a trauma or tragedy happened to you or someone you love, it may be hard to understand why. Sometimes, there is no seemingly good answer. But if you can manage to shift your perspective, even a little, it can help you to let go and heal.
3. Identify the silver lining. Now it’s time to take a step further and ask yourself:
What did I learn from this situation?
If it happened again, what would I change about my reaction to it?
Did the situation highlight or trigger any of my traumatic or verbal inhibitory imprints (unresolved feelings) that I can work on healing?
Would I take any additional or different actions?
This helps you explore other outcomes mentally, while keeping track of your ideas. Remember, our problem-solving brain is activated when we write things down. This is where you put that to good use.
If what you are journaling about requires some type of action on your part, think out your resolution and write out what you need to do your journal. For instance, if you did not get a job you were seeking, what is your next step? You might resolve to research other options, send out more resumes or make a list of all the contacts you can think of that could help.
If what you are upset about requires making amends with someone, wait until the person is calm to approach them. Nothing goes further than an apology. If you have an awareness of why you reacted the way you did and it was out of line, help them understand why you reacted the way you did, such as, “I get angry when people are trying to be funny and jump out to scare me because I was assaulted. I’m working on healing this, but it takes time.” Letting them know you are aware your behavior was “off” and that you are working to resolve it moves people from a place of disdain to compassion for you.
If you feel someone else’s behavior was out of line and you feel comfortable talking to them, wait until they are calm and have a conversation if you feel it would be helpful. Sometimes, people aren’t aware of how they come across to others and may be receptive to your perspective. Keep in mind that some people are extremely wounded and will not react well to this type of input. Use your best judgment.
This simple technique takes some time, so you may choose not do it all in one sitting. That’s okay. You might want to just vent and come back to it later. But doing all the steps will help you to process emotions and situations better in the long run. So make a practice of journaling your strong feelings, and see how it helps.
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