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Plant City Observer Thursday, Sep. 29, 2016 2 years ago

How to let emotions go

Mental health counselor Scott Toler gives his advice for managing emotions.

After the storm we experienced from Hurricane Hermine, I started thinking about events in life that compel us to make a fresh start. The winds from tropical storms cause trees to shed branches and limbs they no longer need. In response to painful events, we sometimes need to evaluate what works well in our lives, while discarding what hinders us.

It becomes easy to get stuck in a pattern of behavior that once led to satisfying outcomes. 

For example, if you once told people, "I do not want to talk about that right now,” as a self-protective measure, it could be time to disclose something painful that happened to you.

Fear plays a part in the reluctance to discuss troubling events. The idea that talking about something with someone may make us feel worse may be true in the short term. However, when we bring an issue into the open the painful emotions often lead to feeling better in the long run because we have released what was bothering us. 

The important point is that we let the emotions register with us, thus, bringing what we feel into an improved perspective.

Feelings make up emotions, which are electrical charges channeled through the neurons in our brains. Our bodies read these signals, and this accounts for the physical sensations making up a part of our response to emotions. Happiness may give us a lifting sensation, while anxiety may seem paralyzing.

Seen from this perspective, what we feel at any given moment seems less monumental. It frees us from thinking a negative emotion will last a long time, and we are reminded feelings are changeable and transient. After all, they are just feelings.

It becomes possible to distance ourselves from what we feel at times by identifying an emotion and then seeing it as just the byproduct of our point of view. Growing tired of feeling a certain way can lead to changing our response to what life sends in our direction.

When we realize we give someone a degree of control over us by reacting in anger or sadness to what they say or do, we regain control by acting in opposite ways. 

Just saying, "Thank you for your feedback,” in a calm, even voice might defuse personal interactions with someone that have deteriorated. This can help us shed the branch of an angry relationship dynamic.

It seems we live in a time when communicating in public situations or even smaller venues has been overshadowed with some negative emotions. Defending points of view becomes entangled with the need to be correct about what is being said.

Since the Constitution and the Bill of Rights provide us with the right to free speech, it may help us to focus on the satisfaction of expressing our viewpoints instead of having to prove the rightness of what we say.

This is just one way people can shed any emotions that have grown hostile and reaffirm positive feelings of personal peace. I am sure you can think of other ways, as well.

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