We’re socialised to consider certain emotions as negative. We’re also then more likely to feel bad about them when we feel them. That doubles the problem, so where to start?
Every emotion is valid, including ones you’re experiencing for the first time during lockdown. It’s normal to feel things you haven’t felt before when something new happens, and the Covid-19 outbreak isn’t something any of us are practised at.
WHAT ARE EMOTIONS/FEELINGS?
A feeling tells you how to organise an experience emotionally. It can teach you about how you understand or deal with things in ways specific to you.⠀
Feelings can be an intense way to meet yourself in a difficult situation, but nonetheless you are meeting yourself. This is a point where people often get overwhelmed. You might not recognise the person you’re meeting. It is still you, and that element of who you are needs something in response.⠀
Learning to manage your emotions is hard, especially with ones that feel horrible or intense. The concepts I use in my work are holding (Winnicott), and containing (Bion) to support clients to learn how to tolerate difficult feelings in a sensitive, curious way.⠀
Emotions feel intolerable when they’re too big, and we feel like we’re disappearing beneath them. We feel lost in them, and can’t make contact with who we are amongst everything we’re feeling.⠀
MAKING DECISIONS ON WHAT TO DO
Ask yourself whether you can hold it on your own, or if you need help. Whatever you decide is okay. Know that feelings are part of the truth of your experience, so be open to seeing what else might be around. We might be feeling one emotion strongly, but usually there’s layers to what we’re feeling.⠀
Emotions may have elements of things you have experienced before such as loss, uncertainty, trauma, stress, anxiety, panic, and depression. Here it may be helpful to notice the quality of those feelings, and consider whether they are different or the same.
If you notice sameness, try responding to that feeling in ways you know already make you feel supported. If you notice a difference, it’s about trying a few strategies to see what’s a suitable response to that emotion.