By Kristen Sohlman, HBA, RP
Normal emotional flow is like having the oil system on your car working well: everything keeps moving through the system. When part of the system breaks down or the filter gets clogged, oil stops moving through the system, and the engine overheats and might be damaged by the grit. Stuffed feelings are like having a broken oil pump or a clogged filter. When your feelings don’t circulate, you get emotionally “overheated,” and can result in damage to yourself and to others. Stuffed feelings can result in fear, anger, and substance abuse.
The experience of both “positive” and “negative” emotions are important parts of life. The acceptance of both positive and negative emotions is essential for good mental health. Stuffing emotions, both positive and negative, can backfire and diminishes our sense of happiness, joy, and contentment. Stuffed feelings can be associated with depression, substance abuse, anger, aggressive behaviour, cutting, poor performance, etc.
Acknowledging that life is dynamic and includes both positive and negative emotions is good for psychological well-being.
Emotional Regulation: What To Do
1. Acknowledge emotions (I feel _____)
2. Accept emotions (It is okay to feel this way)
3. Allow emotions to flow through (Feeling them and letting them go without bottling or avoiding them)
Emotional regulation is the ability to acknowledge and accept both positive and negative emotions and to experience them as they are happening in order to prevent them from becoming stuck within. Some of the benefits of having healthy emotional regulation include improved self-awareness, distress tolerance, self-confidence, decision-making, empathy, social skills, and relationships to name a few.
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