Strong emotions can be hard to deal with and it’s tempting to act out or push them away. Here are some tips for when it all feels too much:

Sitting with the feeling

Fight the natural urge to escape it. Take a deep breath, and set a goal to sit with it.

Putting words to the feeling

So try to identify the feeling while you’re feeling it. Give it a name. Or, since most powerful feelings are a mixture of multiple ones, several names. For example: hurt, damaged, helpless and hopeless.

Remind yourself that this feeling is only just that: a feeling.

It’s your body telling you something. Don’t give the feeling too much power, yet listen to what the feeling might be telling you.

Let your tears out.

(This applies to you too, men.) All of the above steps work best when you don’t hold back. Tears are your friend in this process, not your enemy.

Recognize that no feeling lasts forever.

And the best way to get a strong emotion to pass is to accept it. If you fight or escape it, it will keep its power over you.

Picture the feeling as a wave washing over you.

You are not running away from the wave or swimming into it. You are sitting and letting it run its course.

Use your breathing to help you.

Close your mind inward and focus on your breathing. Say to yourself with your inner voice (while continuing to welcome the painful feeling):  As you inhale, you are breathing in strength, resolve and clarity. You are building your ability to tolerate this strong feeling that you are having. Keep repeating it over and over.

Most intense emotions need to be felt more than once and processed before they go away. After you have sat with the emotion, when you feel it lessening, it’s OK to put it aside and distract yourself out of it. But know that you will likely need to welcome it back again. 

Learn more

Once the moment has passed, it could be a good time to learn some skills to help make you more resilient.