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Take a hard look at your emotions

Are you struggling to deal with your emotions? Are there things in your past that you canít or wonít let go of? Do you sometimes feel emotions that you donít know where they come from? Has your doctor suggested that you may need Ďa little helpí from a bottle of pills? These issues are common in our world today, but many of us are not aware of it, or are denial that we are having a problem. Just as there are multiple sources of dysfunctional thoughts and emotions there are multiple ways of dealing with them.

1) Notice the emotional pain without denying it. Ė This means taking a good look at it. Ask yourself why that comment, thought or memory hurt so bad. Do not try to say that it doesnít matter. Do not try to hide from it in the hope that it will just go away. If it brings tears to your eyes let them flow. We canít always do that in front of others, but pick a time and place where you can go back to that emotion and let your body respond naturally.

2) Express your feelings maturely. Ė If someone says something is hurtful ask yourself if your relationship is strong enough, and important enough, to say something to them. If so express yourself carefully. Your goal is not to punish them for hurting you, but to explain yourself in such a way that they wonít inadvertently hurt you again. If they keep doing it you have to ask yourself if you explained it well, if they are really dense, or if they are truly meaning to hurt you in that way. If it is a memory, or the relationship is not appropriate to speak up, then use the letter writing technique. Write a letter to the people in the past, even to your younger self. Explain your feelings. Then Ďsendí the letter by destroying it in some way.

3) Clear up any misunderstandings. Ė This sounds like a repeat of the last one, but it really isnít. We donít always hear what the other person means to say. This is a step where it is important to have some sort of give and take with the other person. You canít ask a bully to clarify themselves; it just gives them an opening for more abuse. You can ask a friend or loved one what they meant by something. Be open to their explanation.

4) Set new expectations and a plan to move ahead. - This can be done no matter what the relationship is. If a person typically says something nasty and cutting then begin to expect it. You can choose to ignore the remarks or to ignore and avoid the person. Just because we are related to someone does not mean we have to choose to spend time with them. There are some people that are just caustic to us. We can choose to limit our interactions with them. I am talking about siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins here, not spouses. If your spouse is being abusive you have more important problems than your tender emotions, those problems need proper addressing.

The key to these for steps is to identify the source of the pain. If someone makes a comment that brings back a painful memory the speaker or the words they speak may not be the problem. You would need to ask yourself if they are deliberately trying to be hurtful. The memory may be the problem. Some memories will always be hurtful. That is their nature. The key with them is to acknowledge the pain, understand its source, and move on. What we should not do is to dwell in that memory for extended lengths of time. Neither should we deny or run from the memory. The loss of a loved one hurts, every time we think of that loss. Denying that is like denying what we look like. We accept that pain, but donít dwell in it. We also need to be willing to accept that it is a part of our past, not our present or future. If you are feeling guilty of enjoying life after that loss you are not leaving that pain in your past, you are trying to carry it with you into the present and future.


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