Life isn’t always a bed of roses. Especially when you’re trying to get your life in order and show up as your best self. You will get tested. Some heavy feelings can be triggered. And that’s fine. It’s ok to sit with your feelings and work through them. But what do you do when you feel overwhelmed by those feelings? How do you cope with heavy feelings and difficult choices?
Part of learning yourself is understanding firstly, what triggers you and secondly, how you cope with those feelings once they are there. It is important to know which words or actions trigger negative emotions in you. Once you identify the trigger, you will be able to identify the way you cope with those negative feelings. If not, you may not realize how one is affecting the other and therefore won’t be able to break the cycle. There are positive and negative coping mechanisms. Some people cope with issues by drinking and others by harming themselves. These are definitely negative coping mechanisms.
In the movie “For colored girls”, they also addressed promiscuity as a negative coping mechanism. The movie covers a lot of issues women face and is a must see.
Instead of those negative coping mechanisms that only make you forget the issues for a while but doesn’t resolve them, we should all incorporate more positive coping mechanisms. Learning to sit with the emotions and using the discomfort to help us grow as individuals. If you are like me, you don’t like to deal with feelings. I would probably “I don’t know” a therapist to death. (Just kidding)
But I have realized that understanding your emotions is much better than ignoring them. Just by acknowledging the feeling or feelings, it reduces the intensity of the feeling.
When I am going through a difficult situation or experiencing feelings I am unsure about, there are a few things that I do instead of running away. But before I got to that point, I had to figure out what makes me happy. I wrote a list of the things I like or make me happy. This doesn’t have to be difficult. On my list, I have a cup of coffee, a hot shower and a good book, amongst other things. You can also add more intricate answers, but don’t forget the simple things. This list will also help you to incorporate more self- care into your routine. Basically once you have your list, try to do 2 or 3 things every day.
Once you are aware of your coping mechanisms and also know some things you like, when you are triggered, you will be able to respond and not react to those negative emotions. If you can, remove yourself from the situation and take some time for yourself. The first thing I usually do to try to understand what’s happening and why I am feeling the way I am feeling is to journal. Write, write, write. Just get it out of your system. You can look for prompts online if you are unsure where to begin. The most important thing is being honest. No one else is going to read what you write so don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself. Writing allows you to clear your mind and can give you a better overview of what is happening.
Another great way to calm yourself and clear your mind is spending time in nature. If you can, go for a walk. The movement is good for your body and you get to change your scenery. For us living on an island, heading to a beach is also a great way to spend time outdoors. Chances are there will be something to remind you of the beauty of life during that time. Another quick mood booster is listening to music. Don’t get stuck on the sad songs too much but try to incorporate some feel good music. Play your favorites. Dance a little. Or a lot. Play songs that remind you of the good times. If a song is playing and it is making you feel down, change it! If music isn’t your thing, you can always watch your favorite movie.
Last but definitely not least, I pray about the situation. I pray to see the lesson I need to learn. I pray for guidance. I pray for wisdom. I pray for compassion. I pour it all out to God and trust that He will work things out for my good. And when I overreact or give in to the negative emotions, I pray for forgiveness. Having a relationship with God means being honest and reaching out even when I think I have messed up. His grace is sufficient for me.
Next time when someone triggers you and you feel overwhelmed, I pray you will do one or all of these things and feel a sense of calm. It’s not easy but you got this!