Emotions Are Like A River

Last night I worked until 8:30pm running week two of our 15-week program to help our clients move out of poverty. That group went well and the discussions were lively and everyone seemed engaged. It was hopeful and informative evening.

Yesterday one of my clients asked to talk me and then shared that she had an insight into why she was struggling so much. She said, "My mother told me when I was a kid that I was not allowed to get angry. This morning I was angry and I realized I didn't know how to deal with that emotion." She then asked if I would help her to express her emotions in healthy ways. This got me thinking that I would guess 95 to 99% of us were never shown how to express our emotions in healthy ways. I know I was not encouraged to express my emotions as a child. Schools and parents tend to have us stuff how we are feelings. Only as an adult being trained as a counselor did I learn about what healthy emotional expression was.

Emotions are like a river; they need to flow. You could think of emotions as energy in motion. Stopping the flow means blocking your energy. If you block a lot of emotional flow you will find yourself overflowing or going numb from all the emotions that you are trying to contain. There are times to express how you feel and times when it is not appropriate. At inappropriate times at least acknowledge to yourself how you feel. At times when expressing how you feel is ok, share how you are feelings.

Here are some guidelines to Emotional well-being:

• Feel what you feel without judging. All emotions are ok, it's the behaviors/actions you take from these emotions that can get you into trouble.
• Let your feeling flow. Be aware of what you are feelings and acknowledge them as ok to experience
• Feelings are natural and part of being alive. To feel is to experience life.
• Feel what you are feeling and soon it will change to another feeling. Feelings come and go when you acknowledge them
• Remember old lessons growing up about feelings and replace the ones that limit your ability to feel what you feel (examples: girls don’t get angry, boys don’t cry.)
• Unexpressed emotions become tension in the body. Feel your feelings so you don't have to get uptight.
• Emotions are feedback. If you feel good then you are on the right track. If you feel lousy then you need to reassess where you are heading.
• Feeling responses are often learned. If you were told that anger is not ok to feel then you probably stuff anger inside as if it doesn't exist.
• A healthy expression of emotions is to say what you are feelings calmly and clearly. Anger doesn't feel so great but it can be expressed calmly and clearly.
• Others don't make you feel, your feelings are your response to your thoughts about the situations you are in. Taking responsibility for feeling what you feel is a positive thing to do.
• Closing down to any feelings makes you numb to all feelings. If you stuff your anger, you also block your ability to love.
• When feelings come up breath into what is going on and be with the experience. Breathing into feeling assists you in being more aware of your emotional state.
• An open heart is essential to emotional well-being. Your heart is the feeling center of your body and the infinite source of human love and compassion.

Today commit to feeling as fully as you can all your emotions. Real health is only possible if you are alive with the energy of your emotions.