Struggling with emotion? This is what you can do

She wished they understood. As she sits there, staring out of her window, she can feel her entire body experience the emotional pain that is seeping within it. She doesn’t know how to express herself to figure out the pulsating mood inside. She doesn’t know how to communicate the anxiety, the tiredness or the disappointment with what is. She feels lost and alone.

Her mind speaks a language that nobody seems to understand. A language she has spoken her whole life but there are only a very few around her that she might stumble across who are familiar with the same ways of mind. Some days she thinks to herself, they understand and maybe they will be willing to be patient, but the confusion in their voices each time they try to help her is clear.

She tries so hard to manage the emotion, the sadness, the tears, the lonely feelings that ebb and flow throughout her days. She tries to hide it, pretend it is all OK. She smiles, but people see through it. She wears her emotion and she doesn’t know how to make it so that it isn’t there. Emotion is for the weak, she thinks to herself.

She wished they understood. That they understood her language. That her being difficult is in fact a cry for help, a need to something other than what words that she is saying. They thinks she is immature, but she doesn’t know how else to be. They think she is attacking them, but she is struggling with the words to communicate how she feels. It isn’t their language. They get frustrated, annoyed and are becoming quicker to react. She is confused and unsure. The more they react, the more she feels lost. The more she feels lost, the less they understand.

When it comes to an emotional perspective, you have two individuals, sitting, trying to communicate, one speaking their language, the other speaking another. Both feeling exhausted, worn out, and misunderstood. They both sigh, and slowly, but carefully, they begin to walk away until they can’t see one another anymore.

As an emotional individual, I’ve always struggled to communicate how I feel effectively. I don’t know if it is something I’ve learned, or something I just am, but emotion is the language I speak and always have. I am an empath through and through, and it wasn’t until adulthood that I really started to understand that emotion is the language I speak. It is a complicated language though, because it doesn’t have clear cut words. It is a feeling, an intuition, a reaction. When someone feels something, it is a perspective, and sometimes can feel 10 times bigger than what it should be.

“Emotion is weak”…”Emotion isn’t logical”…”Emotion doesn’t serve a purpose”

Because emotion doesn’t have a language other than a personal experience, it is hard to attach some emotions to a tangible rhyme and reason. Expressing it means making something abstract and endless into a verbal language which is concrete and limited. Language is only as useful as the scope of what you are trying to describe. And, emotions, oh, emotions, they aren’t able to be described that easily for many of us. They can be intense and confusing. They can be unexpected and conflicting. There are so many of them and much of the time we don’t know where to start.

We are taught to that emotions are weak, illogical and that they don’t serve a purpose. So what do we do then? We resist them, suppress them, try to shake them off, and pretend they aren’t there, and because of this, we struggle to communicate them.

Many people right now might be feeling things that they’ve never felt before, and these emotions might be feeling pretty confusing.

Firstly, it has taken me, and is still taking me, a really long time to be open to my emotions. There are many occasions where I am not feeling OK, where I don’t even know how to express the emotion to myself, let alone explain it to someone else. However, over my years of learning, I’ve learnt to be open to the emotion by letting it happen and recognising it as part of something abstract, that I don’t necessarily need a meaning for.

I’ve learned a few key strategies in managing emotion that have helped me communicate what I cannot normally put words to, and allows me to see the emotion from a different angle, and in itself, lets the emotion pass by.

Firstly, acknowledgement. Acknowledging emotions can be fairly difficult at times, as we know we like to avoid them. But sometimes acknowledgement in itself can be enough to make ourselves a bit more at ease. Acknowledgement involves not telling yourself “I shouldn’t feel this way”, or “I don’t have a right to feel this way”. Acknowledgement involves respecting the emotion and letting it sit there the way it needs to.

Secondly, awareness. Being aware of an emotion takes you from acknowledging its existence to naming its parameters. Say, you might be feeling frustrated, acknowledging that you feel something allows you to notice what is there, and then saying to yourself “I feel frustration” provides a space between yourself and that emotion that allows it to simmer a little easier. Awareness might involve talking to a friend or a colleague about it, asking how they also feel, and resonating with each other’s feelings, whatever they may be, and recognising that they are valid in that person’s individual experience.

Finally, acceptance. As mentioned, we are taught to resist so much of what we think and feel. We are taught to avoid and disregard the things we don’t like, but acceptance can provide a profound impact on how you actually experience an emotion. For me, I use curiosity as a tool to allow acceptance to happen. I become curious of each emotion, and I begin to understand the purpose of why that emotion is there, or at least understand what made it arrive. By accepting our emotion, we stop resisting, and if we can stop resisting, we take away a lot of the unnecessary anxiety-induced chatter in our minds. We let our minds be at ease, and we can move on.

Emotions are a valid part of being human, and each one of us right now will be feeling something different. My message to you all is don’t hide them away, don’t pretend they aren’t there, and be open to acknowledging them, becoming aware of what they are, and accepting them as part of the process of being human.

Being Peer Support Service (lived experience peer support service):1800 151 151

Beyond Blue Support Service (online chat option available): 1300 224 636

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5 thoughts on “Struggling with emotion? This is what you can do

  1. I stumbled into this article in that special ‘social media down a rabbit burrow’ kind if way and I’m happy I did. Great to see these kind of discussions.
    The one thing I’d add is that whilst yes our experiences are ours, we experience pretty much everything in life in relationship with others. Even when sitting completely alone we are psychically relating to other people and other things. Being open to understanding our experiences of them includes working with others experiences which helps us work through them. Our emotions are shared. I think the comments section shows this.
    I recognise this takes courage. It’s good to see there are courageous people and organisations here.

  2. Thanks for this Camille. I loved it. Something as simple as putting our emotions, how we feel into words is so incredibly hard, confusing, we don’t all speak the same emotional language. Again, thanks for this.

    1. Thanks Harriet! Definitely, we are all experiencing different feelings and emotions at the moment, and it is really easy to shy away from them or to tell ourselves that those feelings are not valid. But, every person’s experience is different, and it is OK to feel whatever might come up in any day.

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