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wundayatta's avatar

What do you do with your emotions when you start feeling them?

Asked by wundayatta (58599points) April 13th, 2010

I’ve learned from the addictions community that we use whatever we are addicted to in order to mask emotions that are painful to feel. If you stop using, you go into withdrawal, and you start feeling all those emotions, which can be extremely painful.

Anyway, it seems like most people think it’s better to feel the feelings than to mask them with some substance or activity that raises your dopamine levels. But what do you do when you start feeling that pain, wherever it comes from? What do you do? How do you deal with it? What is the advantage of feeling pain? Especially if the last time you felt that pain, it nearly killed you?

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19 Answers

RedPowerLady's avatar

The advantage of feeling the pain is you eventually move through it and put it (mostly) behind you instead of having it hover there forever.

talljasperman's avatar

When I failed out of university I started reading whole textbooks in one sitting… It comsumed my life… Now I just sleep 16 hours a day and watch tv while on Fluther…the pain from withdrawl ,the feeling, drove me insane… unless you belive that my delusions can be real? really can a person really relive the worst time in their life over and over in the mind? I choose not to feel it

phillis's avatar

I don’t hide behind much, so I usually feel my emotions full force. Disappointment can hit me hard, depending on the subject. Passion, such as with my husband, and anger, flares quickly, and anger is gone just as quickly as it came.
Laughter is spontaneous and full-bodied :)
But where I am at the moment can cause me to suppress until a more appropriate time. I don’t use drugs of any kind.

Ludy's avatar

I NEVER HAD AN ADDICTION PROBLEM STILL I don’t, can’t and want to show my emotions, but that makes me feel depresed sometimes, i don’t trust people period. what do i do when i have emotions? Talk about it on fluther! I know I know it’s pathetic

netgrrl's avatar

You know, the fear of emotional pain is worse than the actual emotional pain, right? The bottom line is, whatever we’re feeling, we are strong enough to feel. People who aren’t strong enough to feel it stuff it way deep down under denial and forget and end up needing therapy to get strong enough to feel it. Or at least it was very, very true for me.

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Winston Churchill

phillis's avatar

@netgrrl Damn. Awesome answer.

wundayatta's avatar

@netgrrl Some people kill themselves rather than continuing to feel that pain. About 20% of people with bipolar disorder end up successfully killing themselves. I’m not sure feeling pain is always the best thing to do.

liminal's avatar

For me, this speaks deeply to my childhood self-protections, that as an adult, are no longer needed. My growing up years were riddled with abuse and neglect. I learned quickly how to detach emotionally and survive. As I moved into adulthood, and what I would call healing, I found that I still carried all sorts of suppressed emotions. I have used food, self-harm, and other various things to hold my beach ball of emotions under water. For me, trying to keep my emotions under water wasn’t because I feared pain, but because I feared being overwhelmed to the point of incapacity.

Through lots of inter-personal work I came to the point where my fear, of living the rest of my life giving all my energy over to holding that beach ball under water, began to outweigh the fear of experiencing what letting go of the ball would bring.

Like netgrrl says letting go wasn’t as terrifying, painful, or overwhelming as I though it would be. My relationship with emotion is much more fluid now. While there are still times when I want to chase emotions away, those times are less often then they once were, and I know that they will pass and new ones will come. Emotions have become my guests instead of my enemies.

When I start to feel emotions I welcome them in, see what they have to tell me, and (when the time is right) I let them leave. Sometimes, if the timing isn’t the best, I have a picture of a shelf in my minds eye that I place them on and will attend to them later. When I stick to treating my emotions with gentleness and without moralizing them I find that they simply flow in and out of my life without overwhelming me.

SeventhSense's avatar

I repress them and hit myself repeatedly with a frayed rope until my back bleeds and I beg forgiveness from the elders…actually i just feel them.

netgrrl's avatar

@wundayatta Having family members living with bipolar disorder, I understand where you are coming from. But I have to suggest that people who decide for suicide do it because they are tired of the pain. They just want it to stop. I still think they best way out is through with therapy, whatever they need, but it’s best to work towards being strong enough to actually feel what we’re feeling. if that makes sense

escapedone7's avatar

I don’t know how to stuff anything. I’m a little bit like a toddler that way. I get sad and I cry, I get mad and I snip at people. I hide nothing. In fact I show my emotions so much I am trying to tone it down.

In therapy I am learning a huge variety of ways to deal with emotions. Dialectical Behavior Therapy has some great tips for emotional regulation . The mindfulness exercises and learning how to “radically accept” things we cannot change is also helpful.

Personally I like to pour out my emotions in writing. I have a locked blog and I just spill out poetry, writings, sometimes fictional stories where the characters symbolize people in my life. I also paint, play music that matches my mood or sing. (Sad songs say so much).

After a while I just let it go. I actually use visualization to imagine letting it go, like a balloon rising, a cloud floating away, a bubble meandering on the wind and popping. I just visualize letting it go after I allow myself to fully experience it.

netgrrl's avatar

@liminal Thank you for saying part of what I was trying to say. I lived through the repression part until I was nearly 30 – because I was afraid that if I let myself feel the pain, let myself feel the anger, well… I would just fly into a million pieces and there would be no putting me back together again.

I probably had one of the most well-planned, controlled breakdowns in history when I felt things really slipping.

When I finally did let go, it wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be. I asked my therapist at the time why I could finally do that, he answer was, you’re strong enough to feel it now. That’s simplistic, I know, but I think it’s true.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

For the most part, I feel them (without judging them as wrong) and if there’s any discomfort, I breath long breathes, deep breaths, calm breaths, slow breaths etc…breathing helps.

I know that they will pass.

I am getting more and more braver about facing fear-based feelings, as I know that they make me stronger everytime I face them. There is no way for me to fail. Even if I screw up, I don’t fail. Even if I fumble all over it, I don’t fail.

I am feeding myself one big carrot, but I seem to fall for it more and more!
I learned a lot of info from Guy Finley who has a great book and many YouTubes about psychological fear isn’t real.
This past year I have been facing one fear after another.

liminal's avatar

@netgrrl I hear you! I appreciate your transparency and admire your strength.

@wundayatta I agree that opening the emotional flood gates isn’t always the safest thing, particularly when psychological pain is coupled with uncontrolled biological factors (such as can happen with bipolar). It is hard to imagine somebody successfully facing deep soul aching pain without a strong support system, and hopefully that would include a qualified therapist and not just loved ones. I know I would have taken my own life with out one.

breedmitch's avatar

Up the dosage.

thriftymaid's avatar

Just feel them. All of the questions about emotions here are mind boggling. They are part of being human. You have them and feel them. This is not mental illness.

absalom's avatar

I lie on a bed or a floor somewhere until I fall asleep, then I wake up and write, then I delete what I wrote, then I participate mechanically in a non-threateningly enjoyable activity until non-mechanical participation levels so to speak ‘swell’ to acceptable/ normative degrees whereby I might be said to be actively ‘engaged’ with the surrounding world or at least my immediate environs in a ‘positive’ way, et cetera, which I think in some less specific sense is what everyone does and probably the only thing one can do besides, as others have said, just sometimes feeling things, provided these things that are felt are more or less innocuous with respect to self and others.

PoiPoi's avatar

Emotions can’t be kept inside, it will destroy you, if they’re not expressed. I solace my pain through imagination. I think of this pain as monsters and try to figure out how to defeat them. And I also talk to myself or someone who cares to listen. It clears my head and I feel my confidence is restored.

Aethelwine's avatar

I cry.

I end up with puffy eyes, but I feel lighter.

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