There are times that there is an unexplainable heaviness that can descend on us that leaves us feeling confused and unable to figure out why we are wrestling with such emotions. At a gut level, we can totally detect that we are off track and something needs fixing, but cannot figure out exactly what it is that needs to be worked on.
When something is feeling off, chances are high that we may be experiencing some form of being emotionally scrambled. The tendency can be that we just try to disregard these moments and fight through the confusion, but we don’t have to let this be our default setting when dealing with being emotionally scrambled.
Tara Brach, an American psychologist and proponent of Buddhist meditation, believes that a key strategy for dealing with difficult emotions is to, as she says, “Invite these emotions in to have tea with you”.
She clearly means that we need to sit with these emotions, in silence, and to genuinely reflect on them. The act of not pushing them away or ignoring them, can help us sort through our scrambled emotions in an effort to better understand them.
So, what can you do when you might be feeling ‘emotionally scrambled’?
Take 5, 10 or 15
It is so worth it to take 5, 10, or 15 minutes of complete solitude to reflect on the feelings you are having. Sitting with them or, as Tara Brach says, inviting them in to have tea with you, allows you to begin to separate and untangle these emotions so that you can better identify each one.
As these emotions are individually revealed, you can begin the process of prioritizing them in order of the impact they are having on you.
For example, during your 5, 10 or 15 minutes of reflection time, the emotions of frustration, anger, and jealousy might pop up for you. Now, you are in a perfect position to ask yourself these 3 questions:
Which of these three emotions stands out the most? Jealousy
Which of these emotions falls second and third on the list? Anger, Frustration
Chances are the the number one ranking emotion is what you need to get to the bottom of, so a final couple of questions you might reflect on are:
What is it within myself that is causing the jealousy I am experiencing?
What actions do I need to take in order to better understand myself and the steps needed to lessen the impact that jealousy is having on me?
Taking just 5, 10 or 15 minutes to reflect on our scrambled emotions is not only worth the effort and the time, we can also create actionable steps to better deal with these emotions and move forward in much more empowering ways. Better yet, take a few extra minutes to journal out some of these thoughts and the action steps you came up with. Journalling is an excellent way to hold yourself more accountable and to get things out of your head and on paper.
Emotional regulation requires us to put self-awareness into practice in our lives. Trying out the 5, 10 or 15-minute exercise is a great way to better regulate our emotions and learn from them rather than divert, deflect, or push them away.
Neila Steele & Andy Vasily