Part of healing childhood trauma means learning to sit with your emotions. In fact, I talk about it a lot here on my site and across my other platforms. We cannot think our way through trauma healing. We cannot read our way through or talk our way through – we have to feel our way through. Everything else we use to help us navigate our emotions.
As I continue to heal and learn what it means for me to be emotionally present with myself, I realize the magnitude of my developmental trauma and just how important it is to learn how to feel, how pivotal it is to healing.
But What Does This Mean?
I can hear the collective “what do you mean sit with my emotions” as I type this. It’s not the easiest thing to explain. It takes awareness and mindfulness to learn how to sit with your emotions, and if I am honest – I didn’t have the capacity for this in the first couple years of my healing journey.
Still, I did my best to put together the steps I take as I teach myself to sit with my emotions and here they are.
#1 Acknowledge that You are Feeling Something
Just know it.
This is the most basic level of awareness. You know that you are feeling something, that it is big, and that it is uncomfortable. Right now don’t be worried about the details, just acknowledge that at this moment you are feeling something.
#2 Try to Identify the What and Where
Now that you have given yourself a moment to acknowledge you are feeling emotions, let’s take it a step further. On the most basic level what are you feeling: happy, angry, sad, scared, embarrassed? Try to identify what you are feeling.
Once you have given it a name, take a moment and try to name where you are feeling this emotion in your body. Do you feel it in your shoulders? The pit of your stomach? Maybe you feel it in your thoughts. There are no wrong answers here, only awareness.
#3 Make Space & Let Go of Judgement
TIme to spend some time with your emotions now that you have named them and connected them to your body. This may be uncomfortable, but it is necessary. Don’t turn away from them, let them flow.
Try not to judge whatever you may be feeling, honor its place in your healing journey. You are feeling a lifetime of suppressed emotions, your feelings make sense.
#4 Explore the Why
As you start to find your footing; aware of what you are feeling and where and expressing self-love as you make room for your feelings to flow – it is time to take it a step further and explore why you are feeling what you are.
Try to think of the activities leading up to your emotional overwhelm, is there anything that stands out as a trigger? Can you remember a time in your past, or your childhood, when you have felt similarly?
At this point in the process, it is okay if you are not yet sure of your triggers, or cannot pinpoint one particular thing. Sometimes, our bodies remember what our minds have blocked out.
#5 Practice Self-Love & Coping Techniques
The final part of this process is to practice some serious self-love while you use your coping skills until the emotions you are feeling pass. Read, journal, watch a movie, cook your favorite meal, get creative, call a friend, go for a walk – I could go on and on with the activities you can use to find pieces of joy while you process and move through uncomfortable things.
Learning to sit with your emotions is not an easy button to get over them, or to move past them quickly. When you learn to sit with your emotions, they teach you about yourself. They help you learn how to feel, process, and honor the things you feel.
In turn, you will learn to trust yourself and your process and you deserve that!
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