The Not So Subtle Art of Controlling Your Emotions

I’m a highly sensitive, wears her heart on her sleeve, super emotional, empath – dare I add Leo? I often teeter between wanting to share my stories, myself, in the hopes of helping others and wanting to keep my thoughts, feelings, and emotions to myself, which in most cases, I do. I don’t always share personal things that are going on with me and try to keep my most intimate feelings to my very few, super close friends, some of which I’ve known my entire life. When it comes to close relationships, I can be extremely affected. Therefore, to protect myself, I limit my interaction with people who may not have the best intentions for me and my life, whether intentional or not.

I’ve felt physical pain from experiencing emotional trauma.I have become physically ill and if I was ever harsh to someone else, the same feeling ricocheted back to me and until I was able to either gain forgiveness or forgive myself, I felt that pain. So needless to say, when it comes to the emotional realm, I am an expert.

While I’ve let go and grown through a lot of unhealthy behaviors, when it comes to me navigating through my emotions, it’s not always easy. My entire adult life I was in a relationship where despite the ups and downs, I was able to in a sense shield myself from having to open myself up to too many energies, people, and personalities.

We always had each other and similar to the kid who told their friends their mom “said no” I was able to do the same as an adult and stay tucked away in my safe place at home, with a person who for a longtime felt like home, was home. As I’ve found myself in a new chapter in my life, and having to navigate life on my own, I can’t say I have it all figured out but I am trying and have come across some techniques that have helped tremendously, hopefully they can help you as well.

Be selective with your energy

Everyone doesn’t deserve your radiance, your light, your you-ness. Unfortunately, energy vampires, narcissist, and just down-right draining people are all very real and can be harmful to highly-sensitive people and empaths. People are drawn to givers, to lights, to amazing ass people. They love how caring, giving, and empathetic you are. Yet, typically they aren’t like this themselves which is perhaps the reason why they are so drawn to you.

They either want to embody your energy or drain it. As friendly as you may be, you have to have boundaries when it comes to people like this because if you don’t, they will literally suck you dry of all of your energy. Keep a small circle of friends. It’s ok to have associates but don’t go around just giving any ole body the title of friend and expect that they will treat you as such. People can be draining. The smaller the circle of people you have to give your energy to outside of work and familial obligations the better. Reserve as much of your energy as possible by leaving events when you feel drained, ending conversations where you feel depleted and cutting off people who only take and never give to you.

Create firm boundaries

I have a problem with saying no. I always have. Something inside of me just always felt like I had to say yes to things, to help people, to not seem like the bad guy, to be a nice person, maybe all of these reasons. I even found myself feeling a type of way when people close to me told me no. I would think to myself, well how could they say no to me? I never say no to them? I had to realize it wasn’t the person I was upset with, but myself for not having the courage to set healthy boundaries and simply say, “no” when I didn’t want to do something.

When you don’t have boundaries for yourself, why would you expect anyone else to have them for you? Unfortunately, the world isn’t always fair, when you don’t have boundaries you become fair game to any and everyone that wants to use you and ultimately it is you and only you that has to suffer the emotional consequences. When you go along with other people’s plans for your life instead of your own, you are betraying yourself a little more each time and building up more emotional warfare against yourself each time.

You get mad at everyone except the person you should be mad at, you. Start practicing the power of “no”. If you feel the need to explain yourself in the beginning, sure give a short and sweet disclaimer. If you feel the need to tell a small white lie, have at it. If you need to pretend you don’t hear the person and simply start running down the block, then run Forest run! Ultimately, you have to protect you, and if it means you have to get creative in doing so in the beginning, then do it. Trust me, it will become easier.

Other boundaries may include not consistently giving in when you’ve expressed your boundaries and they are continually broken. Be clear in your wants and needs with yourself first that way you are consistently changing or bending to appease other people. Once you are clear on them, express them to your loved ones and stand firm on them each time. Have healthy consequences when they are not met and don’t beat yourself up about having to separate from people who don’t rise to meet them. Boundaries are important. Your boundaries are important.

Develop healthy coping mechanisms

Healthy coping mechanisms can save you a lot of tears, pain and internal chaos. I won’t act like I’m not still a cry baby or nothing affects me because being triggered was what inspired this blog. Instead of drinking, smoking, sexing, sexting, I’m writing. Writing has literally saved my life. It’s second nature for me to write no matter my mood. If you turn to unhealthy mechanisms when you’re feeling emotional, it’s time to find a healthy outlet. First stop and think, how serious is this really?

Will this matter tomorrow? Will this have a huge impact on my life, my families life, my partners life? Will I be able to move past this? Categorize the level of whatever is ailing you emotionally. Take a second to try to move through the issue logically. If it’s something relatively small, and you know what’s small girl or guy. Ask yourself, do I really want to allow this to ruin my day? Do I want to have puffy dry eyes tomorrow from crying all night? Do I want to have a headache or hangover from downing this bottle of wine? Do I want to have to do the walk of shame at 6am cause after crying and downing said bottle of liquor I had forgettable sex with someone I met off hinge? I’ll answer that question for ya’ll, no, no you don’t.

I’m a naturally silly person. I find humor in some of those most darkest places I’ve been. I can literally be crying and see a glimpse of myself in the mirror and bust out laughing cause I look so crazy. Does laughter help you? Watch a comedy special. Binge your favorite movies, listen to upbeat music, dance around your house. Write out some goals. Have friends over. Spend the day reading a good book. Simply put, take away the power of the “thing” and place your energy on something that makes you happy. Now, if it’s a bigger problem, something life threatening, something career-ending, something you haven’t even been able to say aloud, it’s going to take much more work.

Talk to your higher power, God, the universe, the ancestors, heck your personal shopper at Neiman Marcus, just talk it out. Talk to a trusted friend or seek a therapist to help you sort out your next steps. Journal your thoughts and write out a plan for yourself. It doesn’t have to be a grandiose plan just something to healthily get you through the next day.

Unplug and unwind

Social media, television, music can all have an effect on the psyche. We consume so much daily without even making a conscious effort to decipher how it was affecting us. Have you ever listened to a sad song or watched an emotional scene on television and felt yourself become emotional? Have you listened to friend vent and after that conversation felt drained and uneasy? Emotional people can be highly effected by outside forces.

If you noticed you are becoming drained by something you are doing, stop. Social media have you comparing yourself? Take a break. Friend bringing you down with their problems? Gently explain that you love them but you really need to take an emotional break for yourself. If they are truly your friend they will understand. Taking breaks is great for your mental and emotional health. If you have to be on social media, simply post what you need to and get off or hire someone to temporarily take over for you. Where there is a will there is a way.

Get a hobby

Sometimes we become so wrapped up in our emotions because we don’t have anything else going. It’s work, home, relationship and that’s it. When your whole life revolves around working, sleeping eating and your personal relationships, you can easily lose sight of yourself and your personal goals. Get a hobby. Figure out what it is that you really enjoy doing if you haven’t already and do it often. Frequently do the thing that makes you happy and if you can, do it alone. Experience life outside of work, the people you love and your home life. Find a way to channel all of those emotions into something you enjoy doing. Pour yourself, your love, into creating, exploring, trying new things while you discover you.

Have the tough conversations

Here comes the hard part. What do you do when you’ve repeatedly expressed something is bothering you and your friend, significant other, relative, coworker, doesn’t seem to care? To be quite honest, that is something I am still trying to figure out. Now coworker, not so much cause I don’t have to really deal with too many people in working environments but if someone at my job was consistently affecting me, I would have a heart to heart with them and if what they were doing was fire-worthy, to HR I would go.

When it comes to people you actually love and care about however, for an emotional person it can be devastating when you feel like you aren’t being heard, valued or even loved correctly by someone you care so deeply for. If the issue is with a spouse or significant other, I would suggest having a heart to heart with them about your feelings. Explain how you feel to them the same way you would to a friend you were telling the situation to but be mindful of not placing blame.

Remember, the things we settle for are our responsibility. If it is a close relationship I would suggest seeking counseling or therapy especially if you know the person is trying but simply has their own demons they must face. If it is someone that has consistently shown you they aren’t a good person to have in your life, you need to really evaluate why you have kept a relationship with them for so long. Are you co-dependent?

Do you feel like you owe them something? Are you afraid of what your life will look like without them? Trust me, if it is someone that consistently puts you in a state of emotional turmoil it can only get better from here. Realize that ultimately, God has a plan for your life that doesn’t involve you being constantly put down, hurt or emotionally abused. Unfortunately, but maybe fortunately, you will need to let that person or those people go. It doesn’t mean you can never have a relationship with them again, but if they are someone who is consistently making you feel bad about yourself, why would you want to?

Empaths, highly emotional, and highly sensitive people, have to work a tad bit or a lot of bit more towards protecting your emotions than most people and from most people. While it’s not an impossible task, it is in fact a task. If I can do it, I’m more than confident that you can too.

What do you do to control your emotions?

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