January 4, 2021

3 Ways to Handle the Dark Side of our Emotions.

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It can happen without our even realizing it. 

We may desperately cling to something or someone we feel we’re losing, or push away something or someone we feel is getting too close.

An innocent comment can send us reeling, the potential backlash causing irrevocable damage. A perceived slight can turn us cold as ice, freezing out those who truly meant no harm.

The fight within us is fierce. We are filled with anger and hurt. We isolate, overthinking and obsessing. We rehash past conversations again and again, reflecting on each word. We are unfocused and preoccupied, not fully present yet completely lost in our minds. We are preparing for battle, loading the insecurities and fears while arming ourselves with resentment and bitterness.

Then, with one word, the war begins. Bombs are dropped. Shots are taken. Both sides taking cover, trying to shield themselves from getting wounded while continually charging the other. An explosion of emotions, leaving nothing but devastation in their wake. Nothing but carnage remains, both people lying wounded, barely alive, silently screaming and engulfed with pain.

There are some emotions that have a dark side, sensitivity being one of them. When it comes to being attuned to another’s needs or having empathy when called for, that’s all good. But when we allow our own sensitivity to consume us, we can turn into self-absorbed, paranoid, and defensive people, offended by the smallest word, gesture, or perceived slight. That’s when it becomes dark—and dangerous—to us and those we love.

When we mix that sensitivity with fear, hurt, jealousy, and other damaged parts of ourselves, we create a potent cocktail that is sure to poison not only ourselves, but anyone we come into contact with.

These heightened and dramatic emotions take on a life of their own. We lose sight of what it is we are even battling over because we see nothing but red—and that red is our ego on steroids. We develop an irrational fear of being abandoned, rejected, or hurt and this, in turn, can push those who truly love and care for us to reach the end of their rope. Then what do we, the wounded, think? “See. They left. I knew that I couldn’t trust them,” and woe is you.

Eventually, the dust settles and the darkness lifts. We review the wreckage and start to piece it all together, like investigators of a crime scene. Suddenly, things become clear—sometimes slowly, sometimes rather quickly—like the pain we inflicted, the damage we caused. And if we are fortunate enough, we get the opportunity to make amends and repair the relationships that were blown apart.

When you start to feel the rise of heightened emotions or irrational feelings, here are some basic and simple tips that can help you to regain balance.

Breathe.

It sounds so simple yet when you’re in the throes of an emotional upheaval, you forget to do what is supposed to come naturally. Take a minute to step back, breathe in deeply, and exhale the chaos you’re feeling. Now repeat. Again. And again.

Walk it off.

Whether you step outside to breathe in that fresh air or jump on the nearest treadmill, those steps you take can make or break your future. Focus on nature or play some good tunes, walking to the rhythm.

Clear your head.

You are breathing. You are walking. But clearing your head is the most challenging of all. Visual imagery is a great tool and I highly recommend it. Step out of your own fury and step into a place that soothes you. Maybe it’s the ocean or memories of a time past. It could be thoughts of the mountains or reflecting upon wise words that once made an impact on you. Just get out of the madness currently going on in your mind.

There is a dark side to our emotions but if we can step back and seek a way to calm the smoldering rage that threatens to erupt, we may just see the light.

~

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