Feelings can define how we behave, how we interact with others, and how well we function. Many people struggle with bottling up their emotions, which the Kentucky Counselling Centre and many other sources say is unhealthy and can be detrimental to your mental and physical health. I know from personal experience how difficult it is to process and acknowledge your feelings. The goal is to acknowledge your feelings, validate your state of mind, and give yourself at least a tiny bit of peace.
Let yourself feel
What goes on in your brain can be hard to control. Intrusive, unwarranted thoughts can wiggle their way into your brain even when you are at peace. These thoughts are like cells, multiplying and becoming stronger until it is all you can think about. Unwanted feelings are difficult to deal with, especially when you’re not exactly sure why you feel this way. Some people may think that they do not “deserve” to feel the way they do, or that things “could be worse.” Denying your emotions and bottling them up may only make it all worse. From my experiences, I know that recognizing your emotions and allowing them to exist is healthy and may help in coping with them.
One way to acknowledge your feelings is to define them.
To achieve this, I use a tool called the Calm Feelings Wheel- it categorizes different emotions and narrows them down into words that are easy to explain. It is easily available online and there are different versions with varying words or categories to describe emotions. I have it saved on my phone so I can take a look whenever I need to. Using a feelings wheel may help to identify some of your emotions, whether just for yourself or to communicate with a loved one, and while it may not be the solution, it can definitely help put those feelings in a defined box so that you have an idea of how best to deal with them.
It’s okay not to be okay
No one likes being sad, or angry, or anxious, or embarrassed, or however you may feel. Feeling like this is normal though. Emotions are how we interact with each other and the world. Negativity is unwanted, but once it is present, it can be incredibly hard to escape. You might be feeling that no one will ever know what’s going on inside you, that your mind is too complicated for even yourself to understand. And that’s a valid way to feel. Being dissatisfied with your current state is not being ungrateful; it is only natural. You are allowed to be unhappy. Taking things one step at a time and prioritizing your mental health is key to be able to cope. Everything may seem like it is all happening at once, but take a breath. Go at a pace that you’re comfortable with. There is no rush to fix everything.
Everything may seem like it is all happening at once, but take a breath. Go at a pace that you’re comfortable with. There is no rush to fix everything.
There is always support
In times of crisis, you might be feeling very alone. This ties in to the thought that no one will be able to understand, or that you are a burden. You are entitled to your emotions, and it is true that not everyone will feel them the same way you do. However, reaching out for help can at least give you a little peace, and let someone shoulder the mental load with you. If you have friends or family who you trust, talk to them. Many of the chatters I talk to on ConnecTeen are worried about being a burden to their loved ones, and this is something I always thought as well. However, I reframe this thought by asking myself: “if my loved ones were struggling in the same way, would I want them to let me know?” For many situations, the answer is yes. Reaching out to a therapist or counsellor may also be an option. It is their job to help you sort through your situation, and no problem is too small for therapy. And of course, ConnecTeen is here 24/7 via calling, texting, and online chat. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need support of any kind, whether for yourself or a teen in your life.
Dealing with emotions can be confusing and seem very difficult, but there are ways to cope.
Taking it easy, practicing self-care, and using resources can be good ways to deal with the hardships you may be facing right now. Even just realising that you are in a tough spot is admirable on its own- know that you are already on track to process whatever you are going through right now.