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Quiet Your Inner Turmoil with This One Word

Calm Your Distress By Getting to Know All of Your Emotions.

Source: GollyGforce/flickr

“I’m angry.”

“I’m sad.”

“I’m lonely.”

Source: GollyGforce/flickr

I have heard every one of these statements many times over in therapy. They all represent a starting point. From these starting points, it’s important to go on to realize your many other emotions. You may feel angry and sad and lonely and much more. People are complicated creatures who often experience a wide mix of thoughts and feelings that chase and trip over each other in a dizzying tumble. To quiet that inner turmoil, it can be helpful to identify and address all of your feelings.

People frequently try to cope with the intensity of their many emotions by focusing on one of them. They may try to avoid or tame an identified emotion, only to feel blindsided by another emotion. This can keep happening, resulting in a seemingly never-ending struggle with feeling confused and overwhelmed.

Instead, it’s often more helpful to fully acknowledge that you have a range of emotions. This can prepare you to allow for experiencing many different ones. This is particularly true when people’s emotions seem in conflict, such as feeling love and hate simultaneously. Open yourself to different emotions by following up your awareness of one emotion with this one-word question: And?

For example, when deciding to divorce her husband, Trish used this idea to challenge herself to be aware of what emotions she might be feeling beyond anger. “I am just so angry with him. And? I am sad and hurt. And? I hate to admit it, but I still love him.”

Often, as people become aware of one emotion, another one grabs their attention. If this simply repeats, they can get lost in a tumble of emotions. So, instead, after you identify your emotions, allow yourself to focus on, and truly experience, one at a time. As you do this, you may find that there are other emotions that you were not aware of at first. This is what happened to Trish, who realized after begrudgingly admitting that she still loved her husband, that she was frustrated and disappointed in herself.

After allowing for each emotion that you identify, pause. Allow yourself to be aware of – and accept – the varied experiences you’ve opened yourself to. If you become aware of yet other emotions, repeat the process of allowing for those experiences.

Repeat this process, stringing together your various emotions with the word “and.” As you do this, you are honoring each emotion, which will allow you to accept them. By encouraging and nurturing this acceptance of them, you will also find inner peace.

If you would like to learn more about this topic, check out this brief video:

Leslie Becker-Phelps, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice and is on the medical staff at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Somerset in Somerville, NJ. She is the author of Insecure in Love and consultant psychologist for Love: The Art of Attraction. She is also a regular contributor for the WebMD blog Relationships and is the relationship expert on WebMD’s Relationships Message Board.

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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.

Making change through compassionate self-awareness