I’m not sure about you, but I have a tendency to overthink things. I recently finished up the book Turtles all the way Down by John Green, and the main character, Aza, experienced thought spirals, a tornado narrowing in on itself indefinitely. While what I experience is not so dramatic, I easily related to that description. Sometimes, we can’t help but fall deep down into our mess of thoughts.
This past week, however, I’ve been working to intentionally tune into my thoughts and feelings in order to heal from the inside-out. This week has been packed with not only class and work assignments, events, and clutter, but emotional baggage after experiencing a few bumps in the road. More than once this week, I found myself triggered and tense with strong emotions. I knew it was time for me to sit down and work through these stored emotions in order to finally heal. In order to do this, I had to sit with my emotions to find the root of it all.
I have seen immense changes in myself these past few days by simply practicing a few exercises and being mindful of how I feel. While it’s never our intention to overthink, ignore ourselves, and do what we think we should do, I’m learning the importance in really paying attention to our emotions and what we want.
The benefits of tuning into our thoughts and feelings
1. We can be aware of what we truly want
When we tune into our emotions, we can become more aware of what we truly want. That stress, that building tension: bad. That fleeting flutter of joy or blossoming passion: good.
While sometimes we can’t always do things that make us happy in place of the not-so-happy things (such as writing that essay/finishing up that exam), we can still continuously reach for what does. We can work to fill the spare moments of our life with things that inspire us, drive us, and excite us.
This same goes for people. We can become aware of the people we want to become closer with, as well as the people who may be harming us.
2. We can notice any patterns/find the root of an emotional issue
Sometimes, the feelings we’re feeling or the thoughts we’re having are rooted beliefs that we haven’t cleared. Or, sometimes the reason we’re still having problems in a certain area of our life is because we, or someone else, is continuously doing something to stir up conflict. When we pay attention to what is occurring when strong emotions or thoughts arise, we can catch any possible patterns or false belief we are holding onto.
3. We can avoid repressing our feelings or releasing them in toxic ways
I’ve recently learned about different coping mechanisms. While I often choose sublimation (the healthiest coping mechanism in which you funnel your emotions into something productive) by writing my feelings out through a post or a creative piece of writing, I occasionally repress my emotions and tell everyone, “It’s fine!” when it isn’t.
Rather than ignore our emotions, pushing them deep down and releasing them in toxic ways, such as yelling at a friend or dwelling far too long, we can catch the thoughts and funnel them into something beneficial for us. Or, we can tap it through, meditate on it, or partake in any other healthy method to release our emotions.
How to mindfully tune into your emotions
1. Sit in silence and just observe
It’s rare for the majority of people to simply sit and observe their thoughts and feelings because we’re so busy racing around. This is why it’s so important to make time to just be. Are you feeling ok? Do you need something? What do you wish to do right now? Really tune in and ask yourself questions that you’d ask to a friend.
2. When you’re feeling a strong emotion, ask yourself, “When have I felt this way before?”
I get into funks sometimes. Earlier this week, I found myself climbing down into one, but caught myself just by asking, “When else have I felt this way?” I came to realize that when I haven’t had much social interaction, or don’t have anything planned that evening, I tend to fall into a downward spiral. When I realized this, I simply readjusted my thoughts to, “That’s silly–I’m very loved!” I thought about each person who loved me, and felt grateful for each one. I reminded myself how valuable alone time can be. And by doing this, I climbed myself out of the spiral again and again.
It’s easier said than done, I know, but by figuring out what the root of an issue can be, we can easily stop ourselves from sinking downward in the future.
3. Return to your breath
When in times of stress, return to your breath. Before sending that angry text, or lashing out, return to your breath. You are here, you are present, you are alive. By returning to our breath, we can also work on focusing on how we really feel. Are we angry, or… just hurt? Or, what is the best way to handle this given situation?
4. Notice any tightness or fluttering joy throughout the day, and take note of it
As I mentioned above in the first benefit of tuning into our thoughts, bringing awareness to what feels good as well as what feels bad can help us exponentially when it comes to being in tune with ourselves and our wants.
These past few days, I’ve felt this growing urge to play World of Warcraft. So… I’m going to give in and get that for myself. I’ve been feeling a tightness when I think about a certain person in my life, so I’ve been doing some healing through that. And by doing small things like this, I have never felt more connected to myself.
5. Allow yourself to feel your emotions
It’s important to really feel our emotions, because if we don’t, we may end up stuffing them deep down and in turn, literally exploding (okay, not literally but, you know). While it’s not always best to dwell and stay stuck in an emotion, allow yourself to experience it, and work through it, before moving on.
6. Label your emotions
One thing that has really helped me understand my emotions and work through them is to label them. When I’m sad, I announce that I’m sad (in my head, don’t worry), and when I’m mad, I acknowledge that I’m feeling mad. I also remind myself that not all feelings are bad, and all feelings are fleeting, and it’s perfectly okay to feel things that aren’t just happiness.
When you label your emotions you’re, in a way, separating yourself from the feeling. This way, you can work through the sadness without being stuck in the middle of it all.
I hope you enjoyed this post, and spend some time this week tuning into your emotions. I hope it goes wonderfully!
Probably sitting in silence or something,