Personal projects

Owning my emotions

I have always been an emotional person, but after going through clinical depression, medication and therapy, it seems that the gates are open and I produce small floods going right through the gates. I used to feel very bad whenever I would get emotional, because I tear up or I full-on cry, and people get uncomfortable. My inability to control the reaction to my emotions is only happening since after I started therapy.

Now, I want to make one thing really clear here, because therapy has been incredibly helpful to me, but the type of therapy I did was psychoanalysis, and with that type of therapy you don’t work through habits, you just go step by step through your life in order to understand why you are in your present state. That being said, although I can still feel the effects of the two years and a half of therapy and I still use the tools I gained there (questioning situations, thoughts, asking questions, being able to see myself from a different perspective), I am left with no tool for acting on my feelings rather than reacting to them. About a year ago when I realized I simply can’t control my tears and the tightness in my chest, I decided to make my peace with it and accept that that’s how I am, accept it as a part of my life from that moment on. I even invented a little story to tell myself about that:

Tears are my way of making more space inside of me so as to be able to feel more

While I love this story and I think it is absolutely true for me, I want to be more involved in the emotions I experience, to be more thoughtful as to what I invest energy in, which brings me to this project. It’s aim is to make me more aware of my emotions, choosing how I feel them and how attached I want to be to them. At the moment, it feels like I am getting lost in my emotions, so what I’d like to do is to take some distance and give myself liberty to feel but rein my emotions in, just enough that they don’t take over. The reason I am beating around the bush so much with this is because my biggest fear in this process is that I could become a hardened person, unable to feel her feelings, which is not my goal at all. I’ve been there and it created a lot of issues in my life. 

Here’s the general outline of my project:

Step 1: Notice when I am getting emotional under different circumstances (a movie, a scene in a series or a book, a story my friend is telling me). Observe what noticing the thought does to me

  • Is the feeling diminishing?
  • Is it growing?
  • Am I trying to control it?

Step 2: Ask questions about the situation

  • How is this story affecting me?
  • Why?
  • What am I gaining out of feeling this?
  • What am I losing because of this?

Step 3: Change the reaction. 

  • Think through the situation and choose the emotion you give to the situation. By now I’ll know if I absolutely feel like tears are warranted.

As a disclaimer to the above, I want to say that I really use tears to express most of my emotions outwardly and I came to think that maybe it’s time to review my attitude towards this, as it doesn’t seem entirely healthy for me to feel a bit sad when I see animals, babies, cute pictures, etc. That being said, I am going to post about the process as a way to keep myself accountable.

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