How to Weather Life’s Emotional Times

Allowing your emotions to blow through you can help you ride out their storms.

Posted Nov 21, 2017

Gary Knight (windy)/Flickr
Source: Gary Knight (windy)/Flickr

Emotions can overcome you like a hurricane. They can make you can feel unsteady, even threatening to whisk you off your feet. You may need to hold tight to something (maybe a beer or ice cream sundae?) to help you feel grounded. In fact, with such powerful forces blowing you about, calming the storm may be all you can think about. But willing your emotions to quiet down is no more possible than willing a typhoon’s winds to ease. Instead, the best course of action in both circumstances is learning to ride out the storm.

In an emotional storm, focus your attention on your distress. Observe the types of winds that are blowing – sadness, hurt, anger, or other upsetting emotions. In recognizing the forces for what they are, you can acknowledge and accept them. In truth, this is the only realistic response. Denying and fighting against them with the belief that you can make them disappear is as delusional as pretending that hurricane-level winds cannot affect you. And tensing yourself against them is like making your psyche into a sail that lets those forces blow you around in chaotic directions. Instead, when you accept the reality of these forces, you let them blow through you. The experience may not be pleasant, but it is not as devastating as you might imagine. You will survive—even appreciate the experiences as part of a full life.

So, how can you do it? How can you learn to stop tensing yourself against the storm?  Again, start by focusing your attention on the winds. Rather than simply feeling blown about by your emotions, look at them. Label them. Observe your loneliness, insecurity, or helplessness. Try to understand what has caused them. If you are unsure, at least appreciate the pain they bring you. Make note of your desire for them to stop.

Then you will need to do something that is probably against your instinctive response. It is not easy, but it is important. Rather than trying to actually rid yourself of your emotions, remain focused on the pain that they bring. Have empathy for yourself as you acknowledge the natural desire to make them go away. Allow yourself to feel compassion for the poor soul caught in this typhoon; that is, allow for self-compassion.

Bolstered by the warmth, validation, and comfort that comes with compassion, you will feel better able to continue toward a goal, or to just weather a particularly stormy time of life.

If you would like to learn more about this approach, check out this brief video.

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Making Change blog posts are for general educational purposes only. They may or may not be relevant for your particular situation, and they should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional assistance.

Personal change through compassionate self-awareness