What To Do When You’re Feeling Overly Emotional – 3 Steps to (Some) Calm

Written by: Jorinde Berben
Image credit: pexels.com

Yesterday was a strange day for me. I had woken up pretty well rested. I wasn’t in my pre-menstrual days nor do I have a lot of stressful stuff going on, yet, for some reason or another, I felt extremely emotional. The smallest adversity (I had put my daughter’s new dress in the drier) drove me to tears. When the children played too loudly (in my very narrow judgement), I became irritable. Overall, I just felt really sad.

I started looking for the reasons I felt this way. Was it because of the really stressful times right before the summer holidays? Was it because of the melt-down my son had earlier that morning? Was it because my house is a bit of a mess again? While my head was figuring out the story behind these feelings, they just got bigger and messier, until I realised this wasn’t going anywhere.

I took a deep breath (or 5) and then took a couple of different steps to approach my emotional state, which didn’t make the emotions magically disappear (although secretly I would’ve loved to take that pill!), but which did help me deal with them in a gentler way.

Here are the steps I took, perhaps they can be of use to you sometime as well:

  1. Acknowledge and accept
    Fighting how you feel is not only difficult, it also doesn’t work. Instead, I took a couple of deep breaths and let myself feel my deep vulnerability, my sadness, my sense of feeling lost. Was it fun? No, not really, but it did feel real. It felt authentic. It felt like honoring the part of me that needed to feel this way. If anything, it made me feel whole.
  2. Communicate and ask support
    I then told the people around me how I felt. In my case, that happened to be my mother, my daughter and my stepdaughter. The two girls responded in such a lovely way: ‘That happens to me, too, sometimes’, my stepdaughter said. ‘Maybe you just haven’t been sad in a while and need to let it out now,’ my daughter added. (There is such wisdom in these two sisters!) It made me feel less alone which already slightly tempered the intensity of the feelings. I also called my partner who listened with empathy (he’s a pro!), making me feel heard, supported and loved.
  3. ‘Does this feeling have something to show me?’
    When I didn’t look for the cause for my emotions, but instead asked what they wanted to show me, I got to very different answers. My emotions told me to take it slow that day, to respect my own boundaries and, above all else, to rest. They also told me that they are going to have to be around if I’m hoping to experience all the positive emotions in my life as well. Everything needs a backdrop against which it can be made perceivable. The depth of our sadness is also the height of our joy.

In the heat of the emotional state, I felt like it would last forever, but by the time evening rolled around, I already felt more cheerful, and when dinner was over, I felt joyful again as I went to sing in our a capella choir for the first time again since September.

I learned something about my emotions, yesterday. I learned that they are there FOR me, they’re not trying to sabotage me or make my life miserable. I also learned, experienced, that they need room to be and then move on. And I learned, above all, that it’s okay to feel what you feel. There’s no need for shame or guilt. It just is, and it’s absolutely fine.

4 thoughts on “What To Do When You’re Feeling Overly Emotional – 3 Steps to (Some) Calm

  1. Learning not to identify with emotional states while in the same time letting them be is an important skill. Looks like you’ve figured it out. Makes life a lot easier. I wish I had that wisdom in my 20s, early 30s.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. yes, sometimes it feels so real, like it’s what it is and is going to last forever. It’s hard to become perfect in this but it gets better the more we try. Kids and young people, I think, have a more difficult time. Teenagers, forget it 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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