Emotions: 6 tips for dealing with your feelings
If you find it difficult to talk about your emotions, our 17 sayings about feelings can help you express them. You’ll also find valuable tips to help you better understand your own feelings.
Our feelings accompany us at every turn. They determine our behavior and thus our whole life. Sometimes they gain the upper hand, but you can learn to live out and control your feelings in a targeted way so that you feel better and retain your autonomy.
Basic emotions: the 7 basic emotions according to Ekman
Renowned researcher Paul Ekman conducted an empirical study and demonstrated seven basic emotions that are recognized regardless of different cultures. Thus, they apply to every human being worldwide.
This proves that not only can we all have the same emotions, but we also express them in the same way through our facial expressions. Each of us has these basic emotions:
Unlike mimic, we can express far more of our feelings with words. Even if a simple facial expression is easier for us, mixed emotions can sometimes only be expressed with words. There are nuances and facets that are difficult to describe.
Nevertheless, in countless interpersonal situations, it is important to express one’s feelings in order to form bonds and make one’s opinion known.
For this reason, we have characterized different types of feelings for you and will help you not only with how to deal with your feelings, but also with how to communicate them to other people.
Our complex world of feelings: there are 27 emotions
Our emotional world goes far beyond the seven basic emotions. Research from the University of Berkeley has found that we humans have a whopping 27 emotions. No wonder we like to talk about "emotional chaos" or an "emotional roller coaster," and sometimes it’s not easy for us to verbally express the different facets of our feelings.
The study surveyed 853 men and women about their reactions to more than 2,185 Web videos designed to stir emotions. The videos were silent and lasted five to ten seconds.
The following emotions emerged: Fear and anxiety, horror, disgust, sexual pleasure, romance, confusion, rapture, nostalgia, serenity, appreciation of aesthetics, desire/culinary cravings, awe/shock, admiration, happiness, adoration, amusement, awkwardness, satisfaction, excitement, interest, surprise, pain, relief, anger, sadness, and boredom.
In addition, there are an incredible number of adjectives to describe our feelings. These can confuse us, for one thing, because there are so many of them. For another, they can also seem inadequate because our emotional world seems much more complex than words could describe.
Differences and similarities between "feeling" and "emotion"
According to the James Lange theory, the terms "feeling" and "emotion", which are used synonymously by Ekman, have different meanings. In this case, the meaning of emotion refers to its Latin origin (lat. movere = to move).
Emotion here refers to motor reactions or movements of the mind, such as crying, laughing, slamming, trembling and so on.
Feeling, on the other hand, is understood as the mental reaction, the state of mind, such as the concrete feeling of being sad, happy, angry and afraid.
Despite their differences, they are often used in the same way because they also have some things in common: They are affect-driven, influence our behavior and thinking, and give us humanity and individuality.
For example, intense preoccupation with mood movements and states can help us interpret our own ego. Reactions in the form of emotions are identity-forming.
Do I get scared quickly and often? Do I easily develop romantic feelings? Or do I get nervous quickly? Can I quickly recognize and interpret other people’s feelings? Am I prone to aggressive outbursts or do I cry quickly? All of this tells us who we are.
For example, we could be fearful or fearless people, romantic or rational, confident or shy, empathic or unempathic, and aggressive or peace-loving.
In this article, because of the area-wide similarities between emotion and feeling, the two terms are used interchangeably.
The right way to deal with feelings: 6 effective tips
We all carry feelings inside us and can’t do anything about them, they just arise. Allowing feelings is essential for our well-being and harmony with ourselves.
But feelings can also be powerful and sometimes you have to defend yourself against this power with your mind. With some training and life experience, we are able to influence our emotional world in our favor and deal with it properly.
If we wouldn’t do that, our feelings could become uncontrollable and dominate all our actions. Because if we surrender too much to our feelings, it is difficult to get out of this spiral again and to master our everyday life.
We would be tempted to permanent affect, lose our rationality, and become unpredictable not only to ourselves but also to others. People with low resilience are prone to such ’emotional submission'.
Change your mindset: feelings are not embarrassing or weak
When it comes to expressing extreme feelings, our sense of shame often gets in the way. We live in a society where being emotional on certain occasions is simply not conducive.
For example, a doctor would lose his professionalism if he started crying because of a moving fate.
Similarly, someone in a leadership position may not take out aggressive outbursts on his employees. In situations like these, our emotions are suppressed.
Because of public suppression, many people tend not to act out their feelings in their private lives either, considering it embarrassing or inappropriate. But one thing is certain: just because we suppress emotions doesn’t mean they go away.
If something is bothering us early in the morning, it will accompany our mood throughout the day. We find it hard to smile when we’re actually sad, and we get aggressive inside when we’re annoyed by something. That’s why it’s important to let out the emotions that have built up over a day or even a longer period of time.
It’s okay to cry or be angry sometimes. Talk to loved ones with whom you can share your emotions and who understand you.
Suppressing negative feelings permanently is unhealthy
The so-called negative feelings such as sadness, anger or fear are suppressed by many people with preference.
They either see no point in their emotional outbursts, are afraid that their mood will remain negative for too long, or are ashamed – even of themselves.
However, suppressing feelings for too long can also affect the body. When negative feelings can’t be talked about or physical reactions like crying can’t be acted out, our bodies look for another outlet.
You can read more about this in the chapter on alexithymia. Let’s get this straight: we can get stress-related illnesses like stomach and intestinal problems (e.g. gastritis, diarrhea).
We can develop sleep disorders and suffer from exhaustion, get heart palpitations and circulation problems, or even suffer from chronic pain. So give your negative feelings free rein every now and then so they don’t find another way to discharge themselves.
Focus on your emotional world
You’ll learn to deal with your feelings better if you become acutely aware of them. Sometimes not knowing what you feel is worse than not feeling anything at all.
There is then chaos in our mind and we don’t know how to organize our feelings and thoughts. In this case, it helps to focus only on your inner life and try to isolate individual tendencies of your feelings.
Even if you have mixed feelings, it is certainly somehow possible to describe your situation approximately in words. Even though it may not seem logical, you should try to verbalize or write down every little emotion. Talk to friends or your family, or keep a diary. Learn more about journal writing in the next chapter.
Let your emotions out in a diary
If you’re too embarrassed to talk about your feelings in front of friends or family, try journaling.
It can feel really good to have agonizing thoughts – no matter how horrible – written down. By doing this, you let them out of your thought prison, and you’ve also managed to create order in your mind.
Work with comparisons and lots of adjectives to describe your emotional state. You may also find it helpful to verbalize how you don’t feel.
Invoke figurative language, maybe even use colors, or compare your feelings to a song you’re thinking about. Think of a similar situation you’ve experienced before or seen in a movie and amplify it.
If you feel like using swear words, let them out too. Always hide your journal well or lock it with a lock so you feel safe writing and don’t suppress feelings again out of fear.
How to gain resilience after extreme emotional situations
After rain comes sunshine: by allowing feelings and perhaps getting into an emotional crisis, you have the opportunity to come out of it stronger.
The ability to learn something from negative life situations and to go over strengthened into a new phase of life is called resilience.
In a crisis, think about the critical situations you have already successfully mastered and put yourself back there. Surely you also believed at that time that you could never make it and yet you mustered the strength to do so.
Be aware of your strengths, think of previous successes and get the opinions of your friends. Let them distract you, even if all you feel like doing is sleeping and crying. Especially breakup pain can take a toll on you, and it takes a lot of strength to keep extreme emotions and affectations in check.
If you find that you can’t get out of your situation alone, get help from friends, family, or a therapist. Accepting help is difficult for many people, but it’s an incredible benefit to not have to go through your situation alone.
It’s not that you can’t do it on your own, it’s about making this process easier on yourself and getting through the situation faster so you can get better sooner.
Consult with a therapist
If extreme feelings are having a lasting negative impact on your daily life, you should see a therapist.
He or she can help you better assess your situation, and together you can consider how to work on effectively influencing your feelings.
Intensive behavioral therapy can make significant improvements in this case. It assumes that all behavior can be learned and can therefore not only be trained, but also untrained.
Above all, the feeling of fear accompanies many people at every turn. Every tenth person in Germany suffers from an anxiety disorder.
These include phobias, generalized anxiety disorders, and panic disorders (for example fear of flying, exam anxiety, fear of losing, height anxiety, place anxiety, attachment anxiety, and so on). Depending on its severity, this anxiety can negatively affect everyday life or even make it impossible.
When Feelings Are Intangible: Dealing with Alexithymia
It’s one thing to not be able to find the right words and another to suffer from Alexithymia. Alexithymia means coldness of feeling and is a recognized and diagnosable 'disease'.
Ten percent of the population deal with it. Affected people are not receptive to reading their emotional world or that of other people and are therefore unable to express or verbally describe feelings.
They are often perceived by others as cool and distant, which can have a negative effect on establishing social contacts.
Their emotional perception is disturbed, but can be brought back into balance with the help of therapy and intensive psychological training.
Emotionally cold people may have low emotional intelligence, but that doesn’t mean they don’t feel anything. They are merely unable to classify these feelings and describe them.
Inevitably, this lack of ability affects empathy in that those affected by alexithymia are unable to comprehend the feelings and emotion-directed actions of others.
The emotions, which are unclear to them, express themselves in a different way for them. Physical complaints draw attention to extreme feelings. They function as a valve, another way of dealing with emotions. Complaints include gastrointestinal problems, sleep disturbances, exhaustion, heart palpitations, or even chronic pain.
If you know a cold-feeling person, you should approach him with a lot of empathy and perhaps learn to develop a sense of his hidden emotions. Do not pressure him at all, and perhaps gently point him toward doing a trial therapy session.
Helpful in describing emotions: Quotes about emotions
If you have trouble expressing your emotions, sayings about emotions can sometimes help.
Be it because they address the fact that you have certain feelings and it is difficult for you to express them or be it because they deal with concrete emotions and can help you to find the right words.
It is one thing to feel something, but another to be able to describe it.
Sometimes you don’t have the trust in the person you want to talk about it with and sometimes you lack self-confidence.
However, if you want to have successful interpersonal relationships, you will not be able to avoid having to talk about your feelings from time to time. The following sayings about feelings will allow you to give other people, a clear indication of your emotions.
- "I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them."
- "The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think."
- "One ought to hold on to one’s heart; for if one lets it go, one soon loses control of the head too."
- "But feelings can’t be ignored, no matter how unjust or ungrateful they seem."
- "All the knowledge I possess everyone else can acquire, but my heart is all my own."
(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
- "Crying does not indicate that you are weak. Since birth, it has always been a sign that you are alive."
- "A person will be just about as happy as they make up their minds to be."
- "To have compassion for those who suffer is a human quality which everyone should possess, especially those who have required comfort themselves in the past and have managed to find it in others."
- "Where there is love there is life."
- Do not give in too much to feelings. A overly sensitive heart is an unhappy possession on this shaky earth."
(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
- "Social grace, inner discipline and joy. These are the birthright of the human being who has been allowed to develop essential human qualities."
- "It is a curious sensation: the sort of pain that goes mercifully beyond our powers of feeling. When your heart is broken, your boats are burned: nothing matters any more. It is the end of happiness and the beginning of peace."
(George Bernard Shaw)
- "There is no instinct like that of the heart."
- "Never play with the feelings of others, because you may win the game, but the risk is that you will surely lose the person for life time."
- "There could have been no two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison."
- "If you spend your life sparing people’s feelings and feeding their vanity, you get so you can’t distinguish what should be respected in them."
(F. Scott Fitzgerald)
- "A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone’s feelings unintentionally."