Tuesday, August 9, 2011

After a Breakup: Why Deal With Emotions?

Dealing with emotions is essential to your emotional, physical, and spiritual health. But many people don’t always want to face how they’re feeling. Here are a few reasons why:

You don’t think it matters.

You’re confused by how you’re feeling and don’t know how to handle it.

You know what to do, but you don’t want to go there.

You fear what others will think.

Or, you may feel like you will look weak or stupid, even to yourself.

Yet there is immense value in dealing with your stuff. While your relationship may be over, your life isn’t. It’s time to get some life back into your life!

In fact, identifying, expressing and releasing emotions are essential because the emotion itself isn’t that important. It’s what you do with it that matters. Left untreated or unexpressed, emotional pain can wreak havoc in your love life. You may sabotage a perfectly food relationship because of your own commitment fears. Or, you may withhold affection and trust because others have wounded you deeply.

The good news is you can get rid of emotional pain. In time, night will give way to day, and then a brand new day—your new beginning!

Identifying emotions
Tracy had been walking in a cloud of depression for weeks. Even the daylight felt dim to her. After her breakup with Daniel she felt like she was in a fog of sadness. But what she didn’t know was that hidden beneath her melancholy mood was a boatload of anger.

When she finally talked with a Christian counselor she learned that instead of expressing her anger, Tracy was turning it inward toward herself and it was leading to her depression.

As a child, Tracy had observed other family members getting extremely out of control with their tempers—it was actually rage, but she didn’t know that then. So she decided she would never get angry; she didn’t want to be like them. So she stuffed it all inside and thought she was doing the right thing.

Once she identified the emotion of anger, and learned that there was a range of emotions (like the range from a mere annoyance to anger to full blown rage) Tracy could acknowledge that emotion and learn to express it in healthy ways.

A social worker friend of mine uses tools like pictures or photographs of people that display various emotions to help clients identify and then work through their feelings.

Journaling can also be helpful. As you write about what’s happening in your life because of the breakup, certain themes may emerge. Even if they don’t, you can get closer to acknowledging how you feel and what could be causing you to feel that way by writing in a notebook or journal: “I feel __ when ___ happens.” For example, I feel hurt when he lies to me. I feel deceived because she went out with him behind my back.

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